By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Tom Yoder doesn’t mind getting dirty when he’s pursuing one of his favorite interests — gardening.
“I’m always on the lookout for new things in strains and hybrids each year,” Yoder said. “There’s always something really spectacular.”
He’s been writing a column about gardening for The Goshen News and recently published a book, “My Thoughts Exactly: The Dirt on Gardening” with many of his columns.
“I’ve always liked to write and I was hesitant to write the column when asked about it, but I wrote a sample and they used it for the first column,” Yoder said. “I write weekly about things I’ve done or know about personally. That’s what makes it more ‘homesy’ and lets people interact with me. I go out and about and people come up to me and make comments. It was hard to come up with ideas for the winter but I kept finding things to talk about. Here I am with my 194th one and I keep coming up with topics.”
He’s been a gardening enthusiast for many years and started to gain his experience as a youth when his parents operated a grocery store in Middlebury, Yoder’s Market.
“I would grow tuberous begonias and sell them at the store in the spring,” he said.
He grew picotee tuberous begonias that were white with a defined red edge and entered one in a flower show.
“I ended up winning grand champion,” Yoder said, smiling. “That’s where it developed (being a gardening enthusiast) and I’ve planted ornamental shrubs, trees and flowers.”
He’s also received Best of Show at the Elkhart County Fair, and first place in local flower shows and the Elkhart Art League.
Yoder worked as the Garden Center Manager at the former Everett’s Garden Center in Goshen for 16 years.
“I tripled the amount of retail business,” he said. During those 16 years, Yoder and his wife, Beverly, enjoyed going to antique stores in the winter to find unique antiques to put potted flowers in them to sell at the store, he said.
He was in Korea from 1952 to 1954 in the Army and went back to Yoder’s Market afterwards and worked as a meat cutter for 15 years. Yoder said he had some art training and did commissioned portraits.
“I had a Realtors license and did that for several years,” he said, and now delivers products a couple days a week and when he’s not golfing, he works at the golf course.
“Job wise, I’ve worn a lot of hats. I’m busy,” he said, laughing. “I’ve even done a little bit of woodworking.”
Now he’s a published author and that came about after talking with his sister-in-law, who had a friend needing to gain experience in the process of putting a book together for publication, Yoder said.
“It all went so fast,” he added.
The couple shared a special look between them as they talked about their blended families and experiencing the ups and down of life.
“We’re very happy with each other and that helps a lot,” Beverly said.
“She’s my gal,” Yoder added.
His book can be purchased at the front desk of The Goshen News or online at http://www.amazon.com/My-Thoughts-Exactly-Dirt-Gardening/dp/1484081684.