I read about Easy-to-Grow Mushroom Gardens on Eat.Drink.Better the other day, and I had to share this with you. When I’ve looked into growing mushrooms myself in the past, I’ve seen instructions that say things like get an old log, wet it, sprinkle mushroom seeds on it, wrap it in a plastic bag, and hide it in the deep dark regions below your sink. I could only imagine a terrible smell in my kitchen a month or so later because I’d forgotten about my little experiment.

Back to the Roots has a much better option for me. Their Easy-to-Grow Mushroom Gardens grow up to one pound of oyster mushrooms per crop, and one garden kit yields multiple crops. The soil inside the kit is 100 percent recycled coffee grounds. Place the kit on a window sill, mist it twice a day, and within seven days there should be growth. This sounds a lot better than placing an old, wet log behind the pipes under my sink, doesn’t it?

Back to the Roots is an urban sustainable mushroom farm founded in 2009 by Alex Velez and Nikhil Arora, recent graduates of UC Berkeley. They started their urban farm with only $5,000 in initial funding and donated coffee grounds from local coffee shops. They were able to sell their first mushrooms to local Whole Foods, and a company was born. In the short time that they’ve been farming, 50,000 pounds of coffee grounds have been diverted from the waste stream.

After the grounds have been used to grow the mushrooms, they are donated to local nurseries and urban farms to be used as a premium soil amendment. This is such a logical and responsible use of grounds that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill.

The Easy-to-Grow Mushroom kit can be bought on the Back to the Roots website or at some Whole Foods stores. You should head over to Eat.Drink.Better and read the guest post written by Velez and Arora. They have an interesting and inspiring story, and at the end of the post you’ll find a 20 percent off discount code for website purchases. The website also has a special kids corner with special activities for children.

Image: bttrventures.com


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Homegrown mushrooms the easy way
Mushroom growing kit uses recycled coffee grounds to grow oyster mushrooms.