Skip to main content

Back to the Roots: DIY backyard farming, California firm’s grassroots push

Jun 26, 2017 02:08PM, Published by Kevin, Categories: Health+Beauty


Gallery: Back to the Roots - July/August 2017 [5 Images] Click any image to expand.



It was almost like a farm in a box. But Back to the Roots has moved far beyond its initial homegrown mushroom kits.

California-based Back to the Roots today sells herb, veggie and sunflower kits, all edible, easily grown in a back patio and part of the urban/sustainable farming movement.  

While small farming dates back centuries, the idea of purchasing a garden in a bag is a relatively new concept. Back to the Roots, for instance, started in 2009, the two founders using old coffee grounds to grow edible mushrooms. The company itself mushroomed, today selling ready-to-grow basil and cilantro cans, organic seeds, cinnamon clusters and purple corn flakes. The website lists vegan recipes and snacks. Back to the Roots is also in New York City schools. “At that moment we said forget banking, forget consulting―urban mushroom farming it is,” co-founder Nikhil Arora said in an interview. He and partner Alejandro Velez took an additional $10 million in investments in 2016 to further grow Back to the Roots, or B2TR, according to public records.

American urban farming, organics and the nutritious food movement really sprouted in the last two decades, according to research. Federal and state agricultural agencies are pressing with greater urgency, as well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has refashioned the old food pyramid guidelines: more veggies and fruit on school lunch plates, for instance. The movement in Southwest Florida coincides with the food as medicine concept at such places as Lee Health, Florida agriculture and state chefs in schools and low-income neighborhoods to push the farm-to-table message.

Back to the Roots started in a university classroom, Arora and Velez learning that a gourmet mushrooms grew well in coffee grounds. They at first tried pitching growing kits to a national grocer. Rejected, they reshuffled and today market products to some 2,000 retail outlets and online.

Urban agriculture rolls beyond kits and backyard farming, of course. Economic and social activists today farm abandoned land in towns such as Detroit. Chicago’s Windy City Harvest is the prototype in urban farming, a nonprofit feeding thousands with fresh produce. These projects also put hundreds to work. The root idea is accessing quality food in so-called food deserts, neighborhoods with little fresh produce. Urban farming can also include livestock―pygmy goats, chickens and miniature pigs―raised by 4-H or Future Farmers of America youth in cities, for example.

Organic farms are also springing up across the country, some 15,000 of them on more than 4 million acres, according to estimates. Certified organic farms in Florida grow everything from sod to juice to livestock. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its Organic Integrity database lists hundreds of Florida organic farms and processors certified by accredited agencies such as Florida Organic Growers in Gainesville, in fact.

At its core, organic farming is about sustainability, something which Back to the Roots has successfully evangelized.

Check backtotheroots.com for details about its products.

Written by Craig Garrett.



july-august grassroots organic wellness


  • Right Bed, Wrong Husband

    07/28/2017
    12:00AM

    In order to increase his allowance, young bachelor Ted writes his tight-fisted uncle to tell him ...


  • Mary Poppins

    07/28/2017
    12:00AM

    Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorst...


  • Family Beach Walk

    07/28/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    The FREE one-hour program convenes at Gulfside City Park to explore the Refuge’s gulf-front Perry...


  • FineMark Exhibtion of FGCU Art Alumni

    07/28/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    From July 10 - September 29, 2017, Finemark National Bank and Trust will be displaying the work o...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    07/28/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Mangrove Maze Eco-Tour

    07/28/2017
    10:00AM

    Guided exploration of the mangrove wilderness on part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail....


  • Summer 2017 Film Festival

    07/28/2017
    01:00PM — 04:30PM

    Join us for this special event series, which will provide intrigue and insight into the world of ...


  • Sunset Kayak Eco-Tour

    07/28/2017
    03:30PM

    Paddle Matlacha Pass meandering through mangrove shrouded trails. Guides are ACA Certified Kayak ...


  • Ladies' Night at The Paint Escape

    07/28/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • The Art of Harper, Jones and Kurzman

    07/28/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Harper, Jones and Kurzman are dedicated and prolific artists in their work. Harper pushes her pai...


  • Everybody’s favorite flow is back. Anna will lead an all-levels flow designed to inspire while C...


  • Caloosahatchee Sunset Cruise

    07/28/2017
    07:00PM

    Relaxing environment as the sun is setting, the shoreline and river elements taking on a differen...


  • Frankie Valli Tribute & More

    07/28/2017
    07:00PM — 09:30PM

    WILLIAM CINTRON is an extraordinaire talent and is best known for his superb vocals of FRANKIE VA...


  • In the tradition of comedians who have made the transition from the stage to the screen, such as ...


  • Right Bed, Wrong Husband

    07/29/2017
    12:00AM

    In order to increase his allowance, young bachelor Ted writes his tight-fisted uncle to tell him ...


  • Mary Poppins

    07/29/2017
    12:00AM

    Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorst...


  • North Fort Myers Farmers Market

    07/29/2017
    07:00AM — 12:00PM

    Every Saturday 7am-12pm West Parking Lot - Spots rent for $10


  • Early Bird Eco-Tour

    07/29/2017
    07:30AM

    Witness Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve and share information about coastal and wetland birds and ...


  • Local produce, Gulf seafood (including Pine Island clams), fresh breads/pastries, pickles/olive m...


  • Powered catamaran cruise to the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva, dolphins and shell pristi...


  • FineMark Exhibtion of FGCU Art Alumni

    07/29/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    From July 10 - September 29, 2017, Finemark National Bank and Trust will be displaying the work o...


  • Explore your creative side with award winning art and yoga teacher Helen Garcia-Valdez. Each team...


  • Open Painting at The Paint Escape

    07/29/2017
    10:00AM — 06:00PM

    Ceramic painting for children and adults, create a decorative item. Friday night offers ladie...


  • Explore the Koreshan Unity Settlement Historic District, listed on the National Register of Histo...


  • Fig Leaf Boutique Sidewalk Sale

    07/29/2017
    10:00AM — 02:00PM

    Almost everything on sale! 25¢, 50¢, $1 women's, men's and children's clothing 50% off paintings ...


  • River District History Tour

    07/29/2017
    10:30AM

    90-minute walking tour of downtown Fort Myers with stories of history and information about the c...


  • LIFT the VILLAS

    07/29/2017
    11:00AM — 02:00PM

    Join us on July 29th for a super fun FREE event with your neighbors from the Villas Community! Co...


  • Yoga in Action Studio Open House

    07/29/2017
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

    We would love to spend some time with you at our studio open house where you can participate in o...


  • Free Yoga 101 Workshop

    07/29/2017
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Want to learn or review the basics of yoga in a fun, friendly format? Yoga 101 is a great place t...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Caloosahatchee Sunset Cruise

    07/29/2017
    07:00PM

    Relaxing environment as the sun is setting, the shoreline and river elements taking on a differen...


  • Southern Momma An Em Comedy Tour

    07/29/2017
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Real Life Comedy When You Need to Laugh! Comedian Darren Knight aka Southern Momma is a social me...


  • Southern Momma An Em Comedy Tour 2017

    07/29/2017
    07:00PM — 09:30PM

    Bang Productions presents Darren Knight's Southern Momma An Em Comedy Tour 2017 produced by John ...


  • Chicago Tribute Show

    07/29/2017
    07:00PM — 09:30PM

    CHICAGO was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. During their career, they racked...


  • Haunted History Tour

    07/29/2017
    08:00PM

    90-minute walk through downtown Fort Myers reveals a darker side, including stories of both resid...


  • FineMark Exhibtion of FGCU Art Alumni

    07/31/2017
    09:00AM — 04:00PM

    From July 10 - September 29, 2017, Finemark National Bank and Trust will be displaying the work o...


  • Sanibel Shell Crafters

    07/31/2017
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Visit The Sanibel Shell Crafters every Monday all year long from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. to watch this d...


  • Mangrove Maze Eco-Tour

    07/31/2017
    10:00AM

    Guided exploration of the mangrove wilderness on part of the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail....


  • Sunset Kayak Eco-Tour

    07/31/2017
    03:30PM

    Paddle Matlacha Pass meandering through mangrove shrouded trails. Guides are ACA Certified Kayak ...


  • The Art of Harper, Jones and Kurzman

    07/31/2017
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Harper, Jones and Kurzman are dedicated and prolific artists in their work. Harper pushes her pai...


  • Complete original art while enjoying friends, music and favorite beverages. Materials provided, o...


  • Ballroom Dancing

    07/31/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    USA Dance offers beginning Ballroom Dance Lessons and a Social Dance on Monday nights. The lesson...


  • Caloosahatchee Sunset Cruise

    07/31/2017
    07:00PM

    Relaxing environment as the sun is setting, the shoreline and river elements taking on a differen...


  • SUMMERTIME COOKING AT HOME

    07/27/2017
    10:00AM — 01:00PM

    These classes will teach you how to prepare the best of summer produce with healthy cooking techn...


  • SUMMERTIME COOKING AT HOME

    07/30/2017
    04:00PM — 06:00PM

    These classes will teach you how to prepare the best of summer produce with healthy cooking techn...


Proudly Brought To You By These Community Sponsors