Grow your own mushrooms

This summer, my friend Erin left a small box on my kitchen counter. Within days, this began. I took these photos over the course of three mornings.

What in the world!?

The box came from Back to the Roots, a business that recycles used coffee grounds by inoculating them with oyster mushroom spores. The coffee grounds become the medium and food for growing mycelia. Back to the Roots note on its website that in 2012, the company is on pace to collect, divert and reuse 3.6 million pounds of coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee & Tea, as well as collect the waste from Hodo Soy (spent tofu/okara waste); Linden Street Brewery (spent grains and hops) and Numi Tea (spent tea leaves).

All this organic waste, when just dumped into the landfill, decomposes to produce hundreds of thousands of tons of methane gas in our atmosphere, a greenhouse gas about 25 times worse than carbon dioxide for our environment.

The potential for a lot more coffee ground-oyster mushroom activities, especially in coffee-crazy Portland, is exciting. There are already a few folks in Portland who are experimenting with the same process. We’ll be touring some of their experiments in the coming months.

In the meantime, you can get your hands on one of these awesome boxes and grow your own oysters! Available at a store near you.

Here are the Back to the Roots founders, talking about their inspiration and business:

-Lola Milholland

2 Responses to “Grow your own mushrooms”
  1. Felicia Lee says:

    Hi Lola,
    Felicia here from Back to the Roots. Thanks so much for your post– the mushrooms look great. Welcome to the urban farming family!


  2. These gentlemen are what a gift to share their story ! very informative in an unexpected form. Needs to be shared! I’m ordering a mushroom kit as soon as send this

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