Back To The Roots For Food Revolution DayWed 16 May 2012
Story by Nikhil & Alex
Back to the Roots is an urban mushroom farm in Oakland, CA growing gourmet mushrooms and mushroom kits on entirely recycled coffee grounds. We came across this concept a couple years ago during our last semester in college when we heard our professor mention the fact.
We immediately fell in love with the waste-to-food model, were introduced together by the professor, grew some test buckets in a fraternity kitchen, received support from Whole Foods and Chez Panisse, and got a $5,000 grant from our Chancellor, all in the last 2 months. At that point, about 2 weeks before graduation, we looked at each other and said, “we have got to do this!” – and decided to forego our job offers in investment banking and consulting to instead become full-time urban mushroom farmers!
Going Local & Growing Your Own
As we began growing the fresh mushrooms, we had a lot of people in our community start asking us, “Hey this is pretty cool; but can we do it ourselves? Can we make it one step more local?” With this in our ears, we eventually developed what is today our main product, the Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden; a small little brown box that lets anyone – green thumb or not! – grow tasty, gourmet oyster mushrooms in just 10 days…right out of the box! It’s all indoors, just set the box on a windowsill, open the front panel, and mist twice a day! In 7 days the mushrooms pop out, and by day 10, you get your first full crop!
We’ve seen our best reaction and response from kids actually, you tell kids to wait for tomatoes to grow in 90 days, and it’s a lifetime! But 10 days is as close as it comes to instant gratification and its super exciting!
We love seeing kids get excited about growing their own food - we want growing mushrooms through this kit to be such an exciting and inspirational experience that they forever are interested in food, how it grows, and question where the rest of the food they eat is coming from!
We want this kit to be just like the experience for first riding a bike – an experience that forever gives a kid the confidence he or she can take risks and overcome challenges; we want this kit to do the exact same – give every kid the confidence they can eat healthy, feel good, and have fun at the same time!
Some of our current school programs:
• 1-for-1 Facebook Campaign Post a picture of your fully grown kit on our Facbeook page and we’ll donate a kit & sustainability curriculum to an elementary school classroom of your choice. We’ve reached over 10,000 kids with this campaign!
• Whole Foods 1 Kit, 1 Dollar Campaign for every kit sold in Whole Foods nationwide, we are donating $1 to the Whole Kids Foundation to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle amongst kids
• School Workshops our entire company constantly does “hands-on-sustainability” workshops in classrooms across the country – email us if you’d like us to stop by your classroom and teach your kids aout growing their own food and sustainability
• In the Bay Area? We host school tours for kids to visit our urban mushroom farm, get their hands dirty in the coffee grounds, and create their own kits that they can then go home and grow
A Farm Tour For Food Revolution Day!
We’re hosting a big Mushroom Farm Tour (complete with tastings of some delicious oyster mushroom tacos cooked fresh at the farm!) on Food Revolution Day – visit our website to RSVP today.
On the tour you will get to see the daily process of turning thousands of pounds of used coffee grounds into grow-at-home mushroom kits and lots of fruiting mushroom kits we have on display. You’ll see how we divert the used coffee (picked up by our drivers at 5am!) and put it directly into our mushroom kits, converting waste to food!
Join the movement today – visit www.backtotheroots.com and get your kids growing their own food!
About the authors: Nikhil & Alex are the co-founders of Back to the Roots.
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