Aqua farming: Growing produce in a unique way


Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora were inspired by a UC Berkeley project and created Back to the Roots -- an aquaponic gardening company featuring unique ways for urban gardeners to grow produce.

"We just fell in love with the idea that you could potentially use waste and grow food on it, and it kind of has stemmed from there," said Velez.

What can you do with 3.5 million pounds of recycled coffee grounds? How about doing a startup kit to grow mushrooms?

"So the mushroom kit you literally pop open the front handle; you mist it twice a day, and in seven days you start seeing little baby mushrooms pop out. Once those pop out, they double in size every day," said Arora.

Kids like that it takes just 10 days for the oyster mushrooms to grow, which many find tasty on pizza, pasta or salad.

"After you use the front of the box of the mushroom kit, you can turn the box around and open the back panel, and you get a second crop out of the back panel," said Arora.

They started the project with recycled coffee grounds; now agriculture waste from sawdust and cotton is used.

The Aqua Farm is another way to get kids growing. It's a self-cleaning fish tank that grows food, and all you have to do really is feed the fish. The fish waste becomes organic fertilizer for the plants.

"What's really cool about it is that the plants themselves actually clean the water and bring it back down for the fish, so it's a self-cleaning fish tank, and you're also growing food right out of your kitchen," said Velez.

This fascinating technology grows herbs, wheat grass and lettuce. Start from the seeds provided. Later, pick up a starter plant from a nursery.

The Aqua Farm is about $60, and the mushroom kit is $20. They are sold at Whole Foods, Nordstrom and Petco. Call locations near you to make sure you have these products in your area.

For more information about the Back to the Roots aquaponic gardening company, visit

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