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Te Aroha McKain inside her Hikutaia greenhouse, where she grows, harvests, and packages microgreens. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Small greens pack a big punch

A Hikutaia woman on her own health journey has established a side hustle that will provide a more flavoursome and nutrient-rich alternative to salad.
Te Aroha McKain has started her small business, Mana Microgreens, from her home in rural Hauraki, growing, harvesting, and packaging microgreens.
The greens are young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs, and though more commonly found in boutique stores or garnished on top of fancy dishes, Te Aroha is bringing microgreens to the forefront of healthy eating.
“People just see them as a garnish, but they are more than that, they are a superfood,” she told The Profile.
“They are better than salad, they are packed with nutrients and flavour, and they’re convenient.”
Te Aroha said microgreens were the ultimate fast food, and could be used inside a sandwich or a wrap, a salad, soup, or a smoothie.
Among the greens she has growing in her greenhouse just outside of Paeroa are mustard greens, basil, parsley, kohlrabi, bok choy, and pea shoots.
Once harvested after around 10 days of growing, the greens are washed in a diluted apple cider vinegar mix and left to air dry.
Te Aroha does not use any chemicals during the process and said her business’ ethos was to provide a smarter way to eat.
“I’m on my own health journey with gut health and low iron levels, and I did a lot of reading and found that the only people who provide microgreens locally are up the Kauaeranga Valley,” she said.
“Within the Hauraki area there’s nothing that provides this locally, and I know most of the restaurants get their stuff from Tauranga or Auckland. I want to be able to provide the local nutrition,” she said.
Mana Microgreens came to fruition after Te Aroha stumbled upon the Rebel Business School, a 10-day course that inspires and assists its attendees who are starting or developing a business.
She’s “starting off small” and has been planting her greens to sell online and at markets, but once she is MPI certified, she is hoping to sell her micros to cafes and restaurants throughout the district.
“I want to have a side hustle that makes me feel like I’m giving back,” she said.
“Being a mum and with the lifestyle that I live, I probably don’t eat the best, but I know if I have a handful of microgreens, I’m adding all of those daily nutrients that I need to keep me going.
“It’s definitely been a learning journey… but there’s nothing else like this available, and I’ve always enjoyed getting my hands dirty.”
DETAILS: To keep up to date with Mana Microgreens, find the business on Facebook or email: