Submitted by Paul Lieggi, Executive Chef/General Manager, to Bravo magazine
Longtime Bravo readers may remember Hunter Amlie, the cool 4-year-old with the sunglasses featured on the cover of spring 2009. Hunter sat on farmer Dave Eskeldson’s shoulders the day Paul Lieggi, then executive chef at Willamette University in Salem, OR, and the Willamette team visited Dave’s Egor Acres and DuVonn Amlie’s Thistledown Farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. And now, Hunter is Bon Appétit’s youngest Farm to Fork vendor!
He supplies Paul, now executive chef and general manager at Mount Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, OR, with fresh organic produce he’s growing himself.
Hunter has been helping DuVonn, his grandmother, since he could walk and even went to Dave’s neighboring farm to help pick, plant, and weed. According to DuVonn, at the tender age of 4 or 5, Hunter chose red leaf lettuce seeds at the seed store, sprouted and tended them in her garden, and was rewarded with large and beautiful plants, which were delivered to Bon Appétit. Dave paid Hunter for his lettuce, and a commercial farmer was born!
After the lettuce success, he sold sunflowers to Bon Appétit for event decorations at Willamette University, but that wasn’t enough: At the grown-up age of 7, Hunter announced that he wanted to grow his own garden.
With help from Dave, Hunter decided to grow pumpkins and Indian corn. He selected his varieties with care, considering color, size, and days to maturity, and tended them just as carefully. Willamette University Executive Chef Josh Green purchased Hunter’s goods, right from his shiny red wagon.
DuVonn describes Hunter as 8 going on 40, able to tell at a glance whether his fields are too dry or too moist. Even Hunter’s hobbies are agriculture-related. For the last three years, he’s been active in the Lost Ladybug Project sponsored by Cornell University (lostladybug.org), which uses volunteers to help track ladybug populations in various regions.
Paul and Josh are proud to work with Willamette Valley farmers young and old but are particularly impressed by Hunter’s dedication at such a tender age!