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Healthy living at women's refuge

TAO LIN
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014
Vege patch
Tao Lin

GROWING STRONG: Celery, cabbage and spinach are blossoming thanks to new gardening classes by residents of a women’s refuge in Mangere. Other veges planted include carrots, tomatoes, rhubarb, and red chillies.

Refuge gardens
Tao Lin
PROMOTING HEALTH: Volunteer Dorothy Cooper, left, and Te Whare Marama o Mangere Refuge co-ordinator Christina Teikamata are teaching residents easy and sustainable ways for healthier living by offering gardening and cooking classes.

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A once-bare patch of land is now a thriving garden with leafy green veges, thanks to busy hands at a women's refuge in Mangere.

Te Whare Marama o Mangere Refuge started offering gardening and cooking classes to its residents when co-ordinator Christina Teikamata decided it was time to help the women adopt healthier lifestyles.

Ms Teikamata says the families who come to the refuge are extremely poor and lack basic knowledge about cooking and healthy eating.

They now learn skills that can be applied and passed on when they leave the refuge.

"It's about healthy living. We teach them how to preserve and freeze vegetables, about reducing waste and making compost," she says.

She enlisted the help of retired nurse Dorothy Cooper, who set up the garden and teaches the cooking classes on a voluntary basis.

As well as teaching the women how to grow the vegetables, Ms Cooper has also taught them how to make lemon honey, salads, bread, coleslaw, and healthy dressings.

She plans on making mince dishes, slow-cooked dishes and soups in the future.

"It's giving the ladies the skills to get food in a cost-effective manner," Ms Teikamata says.

"There's nothing like producing your own vegetables and eating them."

To start the gardens off, Bunnings Warehouse donated seedlings and Living Earth donated compost while other community members and organisations helped prepare the grounds.

Ms Cooper says she pays for seedlings now with her own money, since the refuge doesn't receive any funding.

It also lacks important gardening items such as wheelbarrows, gardening tools, a storage shed and a glasshouse.

Contact Te Whare Marama o Mangere on 276 7922 or te-whare@ihug.co.nz to volunteer, donate or to offer help with funding.

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- Manukau Courier

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