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product review: Back to the Roots: Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden + a giveaway!

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!  ~BTTR website
Guess what?  It really works!  The kids and I had a great time watching our mushrooms grow from our Grow-It-At-Home Mushroom Garden from Back to the Roots. It's as simple as cutting a couple of slits and spritzing with water two times a day.  You also need a window sill.  My one issue is that I don't have big window sills...which makes both me and kitty sad.  So.  When the weather outside became scorching, I had to close the windows so that I could turn on the air.  This in turn stopped air flow to my mushrooms and halted their growth.  Live and learn, though.  They grow beautifully and magically as long as you have a window sill and an open window in which to let them sit for ~10 days.  I made it through six days, however and still had a beautiful (if smaller than they would have been) batch of mushrooms to use.  Fortunately, you can turn the box around and use the other side, so we currently have more growing for use in a few days.
Plus, Back to the Roots sells placement bags, so once you've grown mushrooms from both sides of yours, you can order more!  Back to the Roots is currently on track to divert and reuse 1 million pounds of coffee ground this year alone.  Plus, they donate their premium soil amendment to 10 different urban school and community gardens.

One of my favorite things about BTTR is that if you grow your own kit and then post a picture of it on the Back to the Roots Facebook page, they will donate a kit to the elementary school of your choice!  How much fun would it be for one of you children's classrooms to watch these mushrooms grow!  We do science projects for school every year, and my kids have already said that they want to grow mushrooms (again) towards the end of the next school year to show-off as their projects.  Plus, if you've ever had a garden, you know that letting the kids "get their hands dirty" totally makes them want to eat things they may not have eaten otherwise.  This is what we made with our first crop of oyster mushrooms: Yucca Flower, Mushroom, & Feta Frittata.
So, what do ya say?  Would you like the chance to grow your own oyster mushrooms at home?  Well, the awesome guys at Back to the Roots have generously offered to send one of my readers a kit of their own.  Yay!

Must have a mailing address in the USA to win.  Please leave a comment letting me know you'd like to win a Grow Your Own Mushroom Kit.  Please make sure your comment either links back to your blog profile or email address so that I can contact you if you win (or leave email in comments)All submissions due July 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm (Eastern).  Good luck!

*This giveaway has ended!  Congrats to the winner:

Connect with Back to the Roots on Twitter, too.
*I was sent one free GYO Mushroom Garden Kit from Back to the Roots to test and review.  I was compensated in no other way.  All opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.