Mayatiita grows microgreens in a greenhouse at Common Property and he reckons that microgreens are still Wellington’s best kept secret.
"So many mums say to me that their kids won’t eat greens – but they ask for my microgreens!"
Mayatiita recommends putting microgreens on your food, not in it – they shouldn't be cooked. "Sprinkle a small handful on soups, stews, or pizza as well as salads and rolls" he advises. "They are incredible versitile as well as high in nutritional value."
He says growing microgreens organically ticks all the boxes – it’s doing good with no negative effects. He thinks it’s really important that microgreens are grown in soil under the light of the sun. ‘Non organic microgreens are grown in shipping containers and force-fed on mats but you can’t replicate what’s in the soil with mats and you can’t replace the sun with LEDs and still expect to get the same quality product’
For Mayatiita the whole kaupapa is about food that is living. He studied horticulture at Massey; when he was instructed to use chemicals on the crop he asked if there was an organic alternative – and was booed by the group. He was told about the organic agriculture unit at Lincoln and decided to visit. ‘I got quite emotional when I saw what they were doing – to me it was sheer harmony’. So he transferred to Lincoln and immediately started getting A+ for his papers – as opposed to the E- from Massey!
The hardest thing is managing packaging and waste – plastic punnets he uses for growing the microgreens are now weaker and last for less time so there’s more thrown away. The potting mix he uses used to come in 1 cu m fadges and he would onsell the second hand potting mix in the fadges. Now it is only delivered in 40 litre plastic sacks that just need to be thrown away. And even though he packages his own product in compostable packaging he is aware that, without the infrastructure to support commercial compositing, it is likely to end up in the landfill anyway.
Mayatiita says he got into microgreens when he was growing wheatgrass - one day he threw a few mesclun seeds onto a punnet and they grew – then he discovered there was a whole industry around micro greens. We're certainly glad he made this discovery as we have been enjoying his greens ever since!