The economic downturn hasn’t been a total weed patch for Woodland’s Tsugawa Nursery. As more people trade vacations for cost-saving “staycations” these days, time spent out in the garden is up. That means increased demand for several nursery items, such as edible plants.
Brian Tsugawa, who runs Tsugawa Nursery, said his business has seen a 30 percent annual growth rate in edible plant sales over the last five years. On the hot list, he said, are edibles like blueberry bushes and strawberries, raspberries and tomato starts.
However, it’s more than just time spent at home with gardening to do. More customers are concerned with food safety, according to Tsugawa, especially in the wake of news stories about salmonella poisoning and chemical-tainted foods. The nursery’s growing seminars are a popular draw, often filling to capacity.
“They [customers] all want to grow their own [produce]”, Tsugawa said. “The only way to trust [food] is to grow it themselves.”
Tomatoes are the most popular homegrown fare, with Tsugawa offering more than 40 different varieties including Sweet Million, Early Girl and Stupice. Most of the nursery’s bedding plant stock comes from the family’s 200-acre farm, where strawberries, blackberries and marionberries are also grown for sale.
“We never run out [of plants] here at the nursery,” Tsugawa said. “When we’re producing our own, we have the ability to keep our tables stocked.”
For the Tsugawa family (which includes three generations working on the nursery and farm), business has been a constant evolution. The family’s roots are in farming, with George and Mable Tsugawa, 89 and 84, first farming strawberries and raspberries after moving to Woodland in 1947 on the heels of the family’s release from a Japanese internment camp. It was their success in farming that led to the opening of the plant nursery, precisely 30 years ago.
To this day, the elder Tsugawas continue to shuttle between the nursery and farm. Their influence is still felt on the floor of the plant nursery, which is highlighted with decorative foot bridges that span a water garden.
“My mom’s vision was so awesome,” Tsugawa said.
That vision, said Tsugawa, included the transformation of an in-ground swimming pool into a water gardening showcase, where customers can gaze at a cycling creek with a footbridge, then wander indoors and linger with the trickling sound of water at the still pond, all the while dreaming and planning their own projects along the way.
In addition to edibles and water gardening, Tsugawa Nursery has a bonsai section that includes classes in care. Tsugawa said Bonsai is a popular, stress-relieving hobby that’s enjoyed by all generations.
“You just kind of lose yourself in it after a stressful day at work,” he said.