Best DIY Company

Back to the Roots

Want to grow your own mushrooms and divert waste from the landfill at the same time? Back to the Roots enables you to do just that. Founded in 2009 by two UC Berkeley undergrads, Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, the West Oakland-based company collects used coffee grounds from local cafes like Peet’s and uses them in its “grow-your-own” mushroom kits. It turns out the pearl oyster mushrooms grow quite well in coffee grounds, and the DIY kit, which yields up to a pound and a half, makes it easy and affordable for anyone to do it in the comforts of their own home — green thumb not required. All the ready-to-grow mushroom kit needs is sunlight, water (a spray mister is included), and about ten days on a windowsill to grow straight from the box. By the end of summer, Back to the Roots will begin offering a compostable kit embedded with tomato, parsley, basil, and onion seeds — simply plant it in your garden and use the remaining coffee grounds from the mushroom kit as fertilizer.


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