By Laurelle Walsh
Saturday (March 28) was the grand opening of YardFood, Tess Hoke’s re-envisioned effort to supply people with the plants, tools, knowledge and resources to grow food in their own gardens.
YardFood was formerly Local 98856, the store that Hoke opened in 2005, selling plant starts and locally grown produce. She opened a cafe shortly after, which was “phased out” in 2008 when the economy ground to a halt, she said.
“The focus has always been on local food and local ingredients,” Hoke said. “But my real joy is in plants and the garden.”
The physical space hasn’t changed, but the store and its spacious grounds are now dedicated entirely to plants and garden items. YardFood sells flower and vegetable starts, potted and bare-root trees and shrubs, hanging flower baskets, perennials, garden art and tools.
“All of the plants have been hand-chosen by us for their ability to succeed in this climate and this environment,” said Hoke. She intends to offer plants grown locally “whenever possible,” and has contracted with growers in the Okanogan Valley for all of her organic vegetable starts, Hoke said.
Hoke and her staff of five — all of whom worked for her last year, some for much longer — are prepared to answer customers’ questions and be a resource to the community, she said.
“The community has been so supportive,” Hoke said. “I love it when someone comes in and tells me, ‘Three years ago I bought a tree from you and I just picked my first peach.’ That makes me feel like I’ve succeeded,” she said.
Gardening education has long been a large part of Hoke’s focus, and now she directs people to YardFood’s new website — www.tesshoke.com — to learn how to “grow your groceries,” as the home page states. Visitors to the website can sign up for “tip of the week” email updates, read blog posts, and listen to podcasts in which Hoke “dives into a specific topic,” she said.
Recent blog posts have asked “What happened to real food?” and “Do you celebrate bare root season?” A five-minute podcast on the site explores “How to get liquid sugar from your backyard.”
Hoke plans to continue her radio interviews with Don Ashford on KTRT, in which “Don comes to my home garden, we walk around, and he records our conversation,” she said.
On-site garden consultations for people with specific questions or garden problems may be arranged with Hoke at the store.
YardFood, located at 1017 Methow Valley Highway East in Twisp, is open seven days per week through October: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Call the store at 997-0978 or visit for more information.