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Growing Fun with AquaFarm

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growing projects, back to the roots

Living in NYC is hard to grow anything. The best option for us is to grow herbs and have small plants. My kids also really love animals but that isn't in the cards for right now. To combine the best of both worlds, we have been growing herbs and taking care of a fish with our new AquaFarm by Back to the Roots.


As a self-cleaning fish tank, you can grow organic produce like lettuce, wheatgrass and basil in this unique ecosystem that uses the waste from the fish to fertilize the plants as well as clean the water for the fish.

Back to the Roots, Back to the Roots projects
Back to the Roots

A great addition to the home or for the classroom, the whole family had a blast learning how to incorporate the beta fish to this new environment as well as clean the rocks and later add the seeds to the top-level.

This entire system is done by aquaponics, which is essentially a system that was developed by the Aztecs and uses 90% less water than traditional methods of farming that also combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). Having never tried something like this before, I was pretty shocked when our wheatgrass and basil started growing a few days later. Even my kids were shocked at how fast it happened. They also loved to feed our new fish - aptly named "fishy" that was the perfect low maintance pet for our living space.

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Founded in 2009 by Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley. Two months away from graduation, and heading into the corporate world of investment banking and 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 and producing fresh, local food, the two experimented in Alex's fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of oyster mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds as the soil. With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods and Chez Panisse, along with a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to skip the corporate route and instead, became full-time urban mushroom farmers.

They also offer a fun Mushroom Kits that allow you and your kids to grow mushrooms right out of the box they come in within 10 days. Another fun project to enjoy with your family, the mushroom kit is an easy way to grow organic pearl oyster mushrooms. This works by the inclusion of coffee grounds in the box that is enhanced with natural corn cobb, sawdust and oat bran to allow the mushrooms to grow naturally and very quickly!

As a fun way to learn about growing, you and and your kids will be amazed at what sprouts in your own home.

Check out this fun video of the AquaFarm:

Back to the Roots AquaFarm - 10 Day Timelapse from Back to the Roots on Vimeo.

Back to the Roots Grow-Your-Own-Mushroom kit ($19.99) is available nationwide at over 1,500 select Whole Foods, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Safeway, Nordstrom, and Loblaws stores. Back to the Roots AquaFarm ($59.99) is available nationwide at Whole Foods and Nordstrom’s and will be available nationwide at Petco stores in Fall 2013. Both products are also available for purchase online at 

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Momtrends was not paid for this post. We were given samples.

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