Back-to-the-Roots, a startup that creates grow-your-own mushroom kits, as well as other in-home gardening kits, has just received a $4 million investment in order to expand into major U.S. retailers Costco and Target.
Business Insider reports that the investment round was led by multinational gardening corporation Scotts Miracle-Gro and Acre Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in brands with the potential to create a more sustainable food system. While Back-to-the-Roots’ indoor mushroom and produce-growing kits were already available at select Costco and Target locations, the investment will allow the brand to enter more stores.
“We like to think of ourselves as the Pixar of food,” said Back-to-the-Roots co-founder Alejandro Velez. “Whether you are 8 or 58, you love our products, either the ones that you are eating or growing. You love them for totally different reasons.”
According to Velez, the startup primarily targets millennial parents with little-to-no space for gardening. The grow-your-own kits also appeal to the rising interest in organic, better-for-you foods as well as the desire to learn how food is made. Back-to-the-Roots offers a wide variety of organic indoor gardening kits such as herbs, tomatoes, and mushrooms, which are increasingly becoming popular as a vegan meat substitute due to their savory umami flavor and meaty texture when cooked.
Back-to-the-Roots was founded nearly 10 years ago by Nikhil Arora and Velez. While the majority of the company’s revenue comes from retail, the brand also works to educate children about food sustainability and how to grow their own food. According to Velez, many children have not learned where food comes from before it arrives at the grocery store.
“We’re on a mission to Undo Food™ and reconnect kids & families with where it comes from,” reads the official website. “We want you to Be where it comes from with our organic indoor gardening kits, or See where it comes from with our simple ingredient breakfast cereals. We hope to help every family experience the magic of growing their own food & make gardening part of every school curriculum! “
In addition to receiving an investment to expand into more retail locations, Back-to-the-Roots has also signed a partnership with Nature’s Path, North America’s largest organic cereal brand, to manufacture and distribute its organic cereal to public schools across the U.S. It is currently offered to more than one million students in New York as well as select schools in San Jose, California; Boulder, Colorado; and Austin, Texas.
Back-to-the-Roots is also working on a potential partnership with the Urban Food Alliance, which supplies the 10 largest school districts in the country with healthy food. Additionally, the brand hopes that its indoor mushroom and produce gardening kits can be used as a learning tool for students.
Image Credit: Back to the Roots