|Woody cut stems, flowering apricot, flowering dogwood, bay, magnolia, pieris japonica, peonies, sunflowers, cerinthe, snapdragons, agastache, stock|
After spending 20 years in the Air Force and 10 years as a contractor, Doug Hock decided he needed a different and active third career for his life. He and his wife decided they wanted to live somewhere exciting and new, so in 2014 they made the move from Colorado to Olympia, Washington. When they arrived, they purchased five acres of land to live and farm on, and in 2015, he started ThistleHook.
Doug knew he wanted to work outside, on his own land, and become successful in farming but his inspiration for farming flowers specifically came from visiting SWGMC and seeing the marketplace in action. After visiting the market, he decided that flowers were what he should spend his time cultivating. “I’ve never been associated with another group with as much positive energy and enthusiasm. From the growers to the customers and certainly the staff of the co-op, there’s tremendous enthusiasm, a love of what they do, and a desire to help each-other out. I’m inspired and energized by the co-op.”
New to farming, Doug entered the Evergreen State College Agriculture Program in 2015 and did a week-long internship with Jello Mold Farm in 2016. Part of Doug’s philosophy is to give back to the farming community and is one of the most gratifying experiences he enjoys. He leases part of his land out to other beginning farmers and hopes to foster learning for young flower farmers once he establishes himself in the flower industry. As for growing flowers, Doug recalls: “Going out to harvest stems early on spring mornings has been the most rewarding thing so far, it’s just a wholesome way to spend my time.”
The name ThistleHook has a couple different meanings for Doug. The most true story is that it is a mash-up of his heritage and an uncommon nickname. He has some Scottish ancestry in his blood, which is where the Thistle comes from, and, , when he was a squadron commander in the Air Force, one of the nicknames given to him by his troops was Captain Hook. ThistleHook was the perfect blend of the two.
“ThistleHook is organic, with a little ‘o,’ not certified,” says Doug. He uses sustainable growing practices that are gentle on the earth, while choosing crops based on their location and what will be supported by the existing farm environment. ThistleHook takes advantage of the good balance of natural flora and fauna on the farm and seeks the most earth friendly ways to keep flowers happy.