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Back to the Roots, Whole Foods Partner to Grow Indoor Gardening Movement

Back to the Roots’ Garden in a Cans come with everything needed to grow herbs on a windowsill – including unique biochar technology that allows growing from the can without draining. | Image credit: Back to the Roots

Indoor gardening kits will likely begin sprouting up at your local Whole Foods Market, thanks to a new partnership with Oakland, CA-based Back to the Roots. What started in 2009 as a dorm room experiment has grown into a mission-driven company with a rapidly growing presence, on a mission to “undo food” by helping people grow food at home and learn about where their food comes from.

“The gardening space is evolving rapidly — with millennials accelerating the move to urban centers and the rapidly decreasing size of backyards in America, families have less space but still want to experience that magic of gardening,” Back to the Roots co-founder Nikhil Arora said via email. “Also, millennials have, for the first time, pushed the Edible Gardening market — at $3.6B — ahead of the floral gardening category. Those big demographic shifts have created a fast-growing new $1B+ indoor gardening category — making it easy and fun for families to grow their own food, year-round.”

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In the past few years, Back to the Roots has raised over $15 million in seed funding and expanded its product portfolio from its original grow-your-own mushroom kits to include herb Garden in a Cans, self-watering tomato planters, and a mini aquaponics system that grows microgreens atop a three-gallon fish tank. Beyond gardening kits, the company also offers a line of organic cereals that are being served in public schools across the U.S. Back to the Roots is also working with schools to donate gardening kits to elementary school classrooms to foster education about food and ecosystems. Through these and other products and initiatives to come, the company hopes to inspire the next generation to be more connected with their food.

The new partnership with Whole Foods will see Back to the Roots products on store shelves, with the possibility of an entire section of each market being devoted to indoor gardening kits in the future. The partnership extends to Whole Foods’ parent company, Amazon, which already sells the gardening kits.

Canadian-American actress and celebrity cook Ayesha Curry recently become an investor and adviser for Back to the Roots.

"I’m excited to join the Back to the Roots team as an investor and help them turn every kitchen and classroom windowsill in America into an organic garden! I know just how important it is for kids to get hands-on and connect with their food, and these gardening kits are such easy and fun ways to do that," Curry said.

To kick off the Whole Foods partnership and celebrate Earth Month, Curry and Back to the Roots hosted a cooking demonstration yesterday for dozens of local school children at an Oakland Whole Foods Market, using the company’s mushrooms and herbs. The event was live-streamed globally to millions of homes via the Amazon home page and Curry’s, Whole Foods’ and Back to the Roots’ social media networks.

Arora said the company has gone from selling a few SKUs in various retailers to teeing Indoor Gardening up as its own category, with year-round destinations in stores. Back to the Roots’ indoor gardening kits can now be found at 1,100 Target stores and The Home Depot & Whole Foods stores nationwide, and are expected to launch into 5,000 new stores nationwide over the next 6-9 months.


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