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Root Pouch: Making A Difference One Fabric Pot At A Time

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener", Strong Women Building A Gentle World, Tools & Techniques

Ashley Fromm, the youngest member of a four-person partnership at Root Pouch in Hillsboro, Oregon, didn’t set out to change the world when she graduated from college in 2008, but that’s exactly what she and her partners are doing. Ashley, along with her godfather, his wife and her sister, are equal stakeholders in a company that manufactures fabric growing pots made of recycled plastic bottles.  Their company is so in sync with the times that the words “landfill” and “gardening” no longer seem incompatible.

Root Pouch got its name when the founders decided to use the kangaroo as a metaphor for their product because both of them ‘protect their young’, says Ashley. This led to the tagline “Better for the plant, better for the planet.”

Early on they formed a partnership with the Ye family in China, combining the horticulture expertise of the Root Pouch team with the Chinese expertise in recycling and geotextile technology.  Ashley calls them their ‘mirror family’ and the close bond they formed continues to flourish.

The arguments for fabric pots versus plastic pots, which are still the standard in most places, are dizzying. At the end of my conversation with Ashley I was a convert to the “Better for the planet” brand promise.

Here are some of the facts:

  • Root Pouch last year alone removed 1,200 metric tons of plastic water bottles from circulation that were otherwise destined for landfills.
  • Each 5 gallon pouch they produce prevents 2-3 bottles from going to landfills. In contrast plastic pots, even if recycled, will use some petroleum-based fossil fuels.
  • Root Pouch pots can be folded and ‘baled’ so that they take up about 1/6 the amount of space in shipping and transportation that plastic pots do, saving millions of gallons of petrol.

We all know what it’s like to remove a plant from a plastic pot and find it is rootbound, its roots encircling the plant at the bottom of the container. With a fabric pot, by contrast, when the roots hit the fabric sides they shoot out dense fibrous roots which encourages plant health. This is the “Better for the plant” part of the equation.

Ashley grew up in Idaho, went to college in the Bay Area of California, and studied international business. For the past year she has been working from home, sharing office space with her husband of almost 2 years, and a new sheepadoodle puppy, who sits quietly on her lap through our phone interview. She loves that her real office in Hillsboro is dog-friendly and looks forward to bringing him in to meet the other dogs.  She says she misses meeting with customers and traveling to trade shows, which was a big part of her business lifestyle before the pandemic.  She’s a VP with responsibilities for sales and marketing.

Part of her job is educating customers and prospects about the benefits of a fabric pot but also about the special properties of her fabric pots. Root Pouch pots are the only ones made with recycled plastic bottles plus a blend of natural fibers, making the pots more breathable. The fabric has been engineered to offer thermal protection to roots too, making the plant warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

The exact properties of the Root Pouch blend are the ‘special sauce’ says Ashley, and treated as a family secret recipe.  All of their fabrics are BPA and toxin free.

Womanswork Seed Starting Kit

Ashley has her own vegetable garden at home, all planted in Root Pouch fabric pots. She grows tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, carrots, as well as herbs such as rosemary, cilantro and basil. Root Pouch makes containers that are 100, 200 and 300 gallons in size for raised beds. Like all the others, at the end of the season you dump out the soil, wash the fabric and fold it up for storing until next season.

Womanswork carries 3 products from Root Pouch, the one gallon pot, the 5 gallon pot with handles, and the Thin Black Propagation Bags, which are sold with our “Seed Starting Kits”. These items are called degradable, not biodegradable.  They are not meant to be planted in the ground, but used like a typical pot would be, above ground. Wash and fold them for storing at the end of the season and you will get several seasons out of them.

For more information about Root Pouch visit their website at https://rootpouch.com/

Leave a comment below to be entered to win a “Seed Starting Kit” from Womanswork!

Root Pouch warehouse in Hillsboro, Oregon

175 thoughts on “Root Pouch: Making A Difference One Fabric Pot At A Time

  1. kathy pascarella says:

    I am going to find a way to use this product

  2. Connie stout says:

    Great idea, would like to try. Good way to teach your kids about starting plants.

  3. That is fantastic. Thank you for leaving a better planet for my grandchildren!!!!

  4. Marlene Anapolsky says:

    Interesting article. Great environmental product!

  5. Denise Hunnell says:

    Very nice! Would love to give this a try.

  6. Kathy Booker says:

    What a fantastic idea , this could be the answer to the plastic problem, I can’t wait to try it !

  7. Denise Woods says:

    I love your products and think these would be great to try!

  8. I own (and use regularly) the root pouches with handles. My romaine is doing great in them right now…easily portable to follow the sun or shade, lightweight and incredibly sturdy, mine are at least three years old. Propagation pouches sound like a natural. Kudo’s on developing great ethical products!

  9. Such a much needed accomplishment!!

  10. Wish this was a mainstream concept.
    Wishing u loads of success

  11. Terri Davis says:

    Your article is very compelling! I am all for saving our environment and would love to try some fabric pots. I really hate the idea of all the plastics messing up our world. If I can try some recycled fabric pots, I may just stick with them…. forget regular plastic pots!

  12. Very cool! I love to see a more mindful, sustainable practice. I am learning to garden for the first time, I’m trying to start a California native garden in my tiny space! The kit would be cool to have in my journey of ecological literacy. 🙂

  13. Sounds great all around. Excellent recycling, space saving & better for planting in.

  14. Janeen Breyman says:

    What a great idea! I would love to be a part of this!

  15. Deborah Howard says:

    My sister gave me one of your 5 gallon fabric pots and I love it! My basil and cilantro are happily growing outside!

  16. What a extraordinary concept, excited to see this family business grow to it’s most full filled potential. Love how womanswork helps small business entrepreneurs prosper.

  17. Tina Riley says:

    Great company!

  18. I enjoyed reading about these pots. I would like to give them a try and see how well they work.

  19. Sondra Ferry says:

    What a wonderful idea. I love the pot with the handles!

  20. Trudy Swan says:

    I am a retired biology teacher. If I was still teaching I would use this product as an example of a unique solution to plastic water bottles. Will give this product a try for myself.

  21. Elizabeth, visit our website for details about our seed starting kit. We selected a packet of cherry tomatoes and a packet of nasturtium seeds from high Mowing Organic Seeds for the kit.

  22. Robyn, the plants don’t come out of the pot as easily as they do in plastic. All you have to do is put something down the inside of the pot, such as a knife, and run it along the edge to loosen the roots from the fabric. A little like taking a cake out of a pan.

  23. Karen Taylor says:

    Great product and great use of discarded plastics! I sent these to my brother as a Christmas gift this year, part of the sustainable gifts that all of my relatives received. I also use this as an example when teaching my students about sustainability and the ways companies are developing new products from discarded plastics.

  24. Patricia Cluff says:

    “Better for the plant, better for the planet” —-keeping gardeners up to speed with new ideas is a win for all ! Thank you Womenswork

  25. I love this idea! I’d love to give them a try.

  26. Jacqueline says:

    Fantastic idea! I am so tired of washing and storing my hundreds of plastic pots from cuttings, transplanting, and seed starting. I tried the biodegradable without success as many of the tender roots couldn’t breakthrough the sides once planted. I am looking forward to trying something new that is less work and and less wasteful. I already have the 5 gallon root pouch that so far is proving to be a winner with honeysuckle!

  27. Michelle Neff says:

    These are awesome. Definitely want to try them. Would make great additions next to my raised beds.

  28. Debe MCQUILLEN says:

    How innovative!

  29. Janet Green says:

    Very cool idea! Would love to try them.

  30. Sally O’Leary says:

    Sounds like a sound environmental new wave.

  31. Mary Jane Tullius says:

    My granddaughter needs to hear about this! She’s the real gardener.

  32. Heidi balestrieri says:

    A great product, love that it is using recycled product into something sustainable.

  33. Chris Rakolta says:

    Very smart idea!

  34. Holly Bobrow says:

    Wow! Thanks for educating us on this new technology! Can’t wait to give it a try!

  35. Beth DeGraff says:

    Love Root Pouch — growing bigger things to come from!

  36. Vicki Scheider’ says:

    Would love to try this! Thanks for the chance.

  37. Linda Skillen says:

    Sounds like something we could use for our community garden plant sales. People could bring them back to get their starts for the next year. Thank you for the information,

  38. Great product can’t wait to use these todo my part

  39. Would love these for my mom, who has taken to your products recently and lives to garden. She has even started working on friends’ backyards for free, who know little about gardening but planting trees and plants, and charging them only for supplies. Spreading the love for nature, loves to compost… She deserves this kit, it would bring her so much joy.

  40. Wendy Sjoblom says:

    Would be a very good replacement for my large plastic tomato pots that cracked and fell apart from age and sun.
    I like the fact that they are lightweight. Ceramic and clay pots are nice but are heavy and have to be stored in my basement in the winter. I would like to try these.

  41. This product is great as a liner for wrought iron plant stands or any type of mesh container instead of coconut fibers. It looks classy and the squirrels don’t eat it!

  42. This product is great as a liner for wrought iron plant stands or any type of mesh container instead of coconut fibers. It looks classy and the squirrels don’t eat it!

  43. Suzanne Piccolo-Giardina says:

    Amazing! Makes me definitely want to be a more responsible gardener! Wonderful story that opens your eyes to what can and is being done . Thank you for what your doing, keep spreading the word !?

  44. Jacklyn William says:

    These little planters would be awesome to try!

  45. Received a seed starting kit for Christmas and have planted the cherry tomato seeds in them. Would love more either for myself or to share with family.

  46. Deb Johnson says:

    Wow, these sound great, keeping plastic out of landfills/oceans. Wonderful

  47. Laurie Stinson says:

    What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing. Happy spring!!!!

  48. Tracy Grimm says:

    These look great. Would love to try these out.

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