Green Festival Speakers

Alejandro Velez



Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez are the co-founders of Back to the Roots, an urban mushroom farm in Oakland, California, growing gourmet mushrooms and mushroom kits sustainably on 100% recycled coffee grounds. Offers in hand, they were headed into the corporate world during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009 when they came across this idea in class a few months before graduation, fell in love with the waste-to-food model and decided to forego careers in investment banking and consulting to become full-time urban mushroom farmers! Back to the Roots diverted over 1 million pounds of coffee ground waste from Peet’s Coffee in 2011, has grown its team to 31 people, and now sells its Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Gardens at more than 1,500 retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods and Home Depot. Back to the Roots has been recognized in Forbes’ 30 Under 30, BusinessWeek’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs Under 25, and CNN’s 10 Next Gen Entrepreneurs. Alejandroand Nikhil are working to build a movement that can connect everyone with their food again—green thumb or not!.