Organic flowers, herbs and vegetable plants are nourished into robust plants from tiny seeds at Cascade Cuts in Bellingham before being shipped to our stores.
Cascade Cuts, with its greenhouses filled with rows of organic plants, is owned and operated by Paul Troutman. Paul says he works to be a steward of the land. All his plants are grown organically, which can require some clever thinking. Paul has a degree in plant pathology, allowing him to treat his plants with expert care.
To combat unwanted bugs, and provide clean fertilizer, Paul uses compost tea and bottles of bugs. One of his long-time employees swears these bugs are miracle workers. One day the plants will be looking a little sad, with brown spots on the leaves; and the next day, after spending time with Paul’s “good” bugs, the plants are perky and revived.
Paul also works to reduce the amount of water runoff that his greenhouses produce by using a flood bench watering system. Plants sit on top of a table with edges that stand a few inches above the table top. The water used for the plants is stored in an underground tank. When it is time for watering, water runs up from the tank and fills the table almost completely to the rim. At that point the process reverses and the water flows back into the tank. With this process the water is able to be reused and there is very little to no run off.
Paul grows more than 3,000 items on his 10 acres throughout the year. This includes flowers and herbs at all stages from seedlings to potted plants, and more than 70 varieties of lavender. Paul received his degree in plant pathology, the scientific study of plant diseases, from the University of Georgia. He says he uses what he learned every day. Paul is still devoted to education, promoting organizations such as Seattle TILTH and the Arboretum Foundation with many of his plant sales, as well as teaching customers about his plants and environmental sustainability.
Among Cascade Cuts’ unique practices is that each plant is started individually – rather than growing multiple plants in a large pot. By starting each plant in a “mini-pot,” he reduces the transplant shock when moving a plant to its own pot.
When he is not busy releasing good bugs or deciding what to plant and when, Paul enjoys the setting for his operation – a pond, a pastured llama, chickens, geese and pigs. He originally started the business in 1980 as a cut flower grower, “one little greenhouse selling cut flowers and herbs,” and transformed Cascade Cuts into a wholesale nursery when cheap imports flooded the market.