When I first heard about Back to the Roots, I was instantly hooked on the idea. I had no clue how to grow mushrooms on my own, so I was thrilled about the opportunity to receive a kit that would take all of the guesswork out of growing mushrooms.
Basically, you just open the box, slice the plastic and mist the insides (you need to mist twice a day) and in about 10 days you get to harvest up to 1.5 pounds of oyster mushrooms.
You will get at least 2 crops from a Back to the Roots kit, but some people have gotten up to 4 crops. I like that you can even let the box sit on the shelf for months before opening it, and it’ll still keep.
Here are the mushrooms we got to grow!
These kits are a great learning experience for kids. So many kids (and adults) are disconnected from where their food actually comes from. It’s wonderful for them to see how food is grown, and to get to do it in your own home is the best experience.
The best part is that the soil is 100% recycled coffee grounds, which is totally safe and sustainable! In 2011, Back to the Roots was able to collect, divert and reuse 1 million pounds of coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee & Tea! And families got to grow 250,000 pounds of fresh food at home with these kits.
I also really appreciated the story of how the founders, Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, came up with the idea to start Back to the Roots. When they were just two months away from graduating from UC Berkley, they were sitting in a lecture class and were introduced to the idea of potentially growing mushrooms totally on recycled coffee grounds.
They both felt inspired by the idea of turning waste into income and fresh food, so they started experimenting in Alex’s fraternity house kitchen, where they grew one test bucket of oyster mushrooms in recycled coffee grounds. That single bucket generated interest from Whole Foods and got them a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation. And from that Back to the Roots had its beginnings!