better – backtotheroots.

From Bankers to Mushroom Farmers


Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking & consulting, they came across the idea during a class lecture of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages & fresh, local food, they experimented in Alex’s fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of tasty oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds. With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods & Chez Panisse and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forget the corporate route, and instead, become full-time urban mushroom farmers!
Inspired by the idea of producing local, fresh food, we realized our company’s true passion wasn’t in bulk mushroom farming, but rather in creating tools to make food personal again and bring beautiful design, sustainability, education, and food into homes and classrooms around the world! Our first product was a Grow-at-Home Mushroom Kit that lets anyone grow their own delicious oyster mushrooms right out of a little brown box! Our second product, The Aquaponics Garden is a small, self-cleaning fish tank from which you can grow your own food!
We’ve since stopped bulk mushroom farming and are focusing our efforts on developing inspirational products to connect families to food and building a movement around them to make food personal again!

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