A pair of green entrepreneurs have come up with a great easy kit to grow your own fresh sustainable mushrooms at home. Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora came up with the idea during their last semester at UC Berkeley and turned it into a full fledged sucessfull sustainable business: Back to the Roots.
Using the recycled coffee grounds from Peet’s Coffee and Tea houses around the San Francisco bay area as a growing medium, they came up with a full circle pearl oyster mushroom growing kit. Providing a way to grow your own fresh produce in the home while utilizing a waste product (used coffee grounds) they further complete the circle by selling their mushroom/coffee ground compost ‘waste product’ as a premium soil amendment.
If you have a composting pile or bin for your home garden, then you should head down to your local cafe and pick up these compost boosters. Coffee shops throw away tons of used coffee grounds each year, grounds which are better suited for your garden. Many cafes offer these grounds to their customers if you just ask. Some Starbucks cafes even have them bagged and waiting for you in their Grounds for your Garden bin.
Coffee grounds are excellent for home garden composting, providing your plants with a rich source of nitrogen. You can even add them to rose beds, azalea beds, or any acid loving plants, just spread a thin layer over the surface of the bed. Typical acid loving plants thrive in areas where summer rains are common. Unfortunately, due to salt levels, you should not add coffee ground into your container plants.
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Beverage cups at Mariner’s baseball games, parfait cups at the University of Washington, and cold or hot coffee cups, everywhere I turn the Cedar Grove Composting label seems to be there as well. Now it’s become a fun game to point out every label I see.
Cedar Grove is a leading organic recycling company in the Pacific Northwest which started way back in 1938. They even proudly state that Cedar Grove Composting has grown to become the largest single dedicated yard waste composting facility in the United States. They provide 100% natural soil amendments, soil blends, and mulches. Also, the cups I’ve been seeing everywhere are 100% compostable and will break down into quality compost. Cedar Grove also provides recycled paper sandwich bags, cutlery, straws, and cold or hot food containers. On July 1st, Seattle will require that all single-use service ware be either recyclable or compostable. Cedar Grove is assisting this movement 100% and will make it easier to save money on waste costs going to a landfill and protect the environment by enriching the soil with nutrients from food and service-ware waste.
Last week, the Organic Consumers Association took a stand outside the mayor’s office in San Francisco to protest the city’s recent free composting program. (Read the article from their site here). It might sound like an odd thing to protest, especially with all the amazing benefits of composting. The national group chose San Francisco to demonstrate against since it is one of the most “green” cities in the U.S. and they felt that it would reach the best audience.
This group claims that the compost that was handed out “usually includes a number of heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, pharmaceuticals, steroids, flame-retardants, bacteria (including antibiotic-resistant bacteria), fungi, parasites and viruses.” They cite an EPA survey that found heavy metals, steroids, anions, and pharmaceuticals in the biosolids from around the country
Many local governments have adopted the practice of turning biosolids into fertilizer to be sold or handed out for free. A biosolid is made from treated and processed sewage. The EPA claims that these biosolids contain “nutrient-rich organic materials”. Be careful to realize that when they say organic here, they do not mean certified organic, but organic as in organic chemistry. Read more about biosolids on the EPA’s website.
The reasoning for taking sewage and turning it into biosolids for farms and gardens sounds compelling at first glance. In the past, this sewage was dumped straight into lakes, streams, and other natural water sources. › Continue reading
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