Originally a 10-acre estate from the 1920s through the early 2000s, the Hoshi farm was most famous for its flowers. One of the concrete foundations for the original Hoshi greenhouse still stands at the southern part of the estate at Blue Moon Farm and is visible from 91st Ave SW. Visitors are welcome to Blue Moon Farm with advance notice.
Noboru Hoshi immigrated from Japan and arrived in Victoria, BC in 1906. Seven years later, he married Sato Sato in Washington State. Their six children (Yuri, Dorothy, Henry, Margaret, Nora, and Sherman) arrived over the next dozen years. The family raised cattle, rabbits, potatoes, berries, and flowers.
The Hoshi greenhouse business, called “Vashon Garden Company” (and later “Vashon Gardens”), was known for its flowers, including chrysanthemums, roses, calla lilies and zinnias. Family lore has it that some of the chrysanthemum heads grew as large as 8”-10” across; these were in high demand in Seattle markets. Dorothy Hoshi remembered setting up a weekend flower stand at Pike Place Market. In 1932 Noboru expanded the business into Seattle, even opening a shop specializing in Vashon flowers and produce on Jackson Street.
The combination of the Hoshis’ early arrival and economic success meant that they were some of the leaders of the Island’s vibrant 1930s Japanese American community. To some, they were known as the “High-Tone Hoshis,” as Noboru was known to be a handsome man and particularly snappy dresser. In the early 1930s, the Hoshis planted flowers when a new flagpole was installed at the Island Club [LINK HERE], and donated a dozen evergreens to Vashon High School. Yuri Hoshi traveled to Japan by steamship and gave a presentation at the Island Club about her travels. Sato was known for her generous hospitality, especially to those in need during the Depression.
Sadly, Noboru committed suicide in 1934, and for a time Sato struggled to raise her children and manage the farm. She found companionship in Japanese world adventurer Kuichi Tanaka, who had traveled through some 60 countries on his bicycle for approximately nine years before settling on Vashon. By 1942, several of the Hoshi siblings had grown and left home; Sato and Kuichi registered with the remaining children as a family and were forcibly evicted to concentration camps in Pinedale and Tule Lake, California, and then Minidoka, Idaho.
After the war, several of the Hoshi children left camp, scattering to different states in the Northwest and Midwest. The remaining Hoshis returned to a changed estate. Family lore has it that every greenhouse pane was broken and the family’s prized plants were stolen or lost. Like many Japanese Americans, they rarely spoke about their wartime experiences. The Hoshis survived as well as they could, despite a toddler grandson’s accidental death (1953) and two house fires (1952 and 1992). Eventually they rebuilt their flower and farm business, delivering plants to stores like Vashon Thriftway and Seattle’s Chubby and Tubby.
In the early 2000s, grandson Mark Hoshi divided the land into two roughly equal parcels and sold it in 2012. The northern part of the land is used for growing wine grapes. The southern part of the land, where the greenhouse foundation still stands, is now Blue Moon Farm, owned by Kevin Hoffberg. The farm’s crops now include potatoes, cucumbers, mini-pears, vegetables, squashes, and lavender.
Author: Tamiko Nimura