JACKSON CENTER — Like many 14-year-olds, Hunter Lenhart enjoys school, sports, spending time with his friends, and playing guitar and drums. But running his own business selling mums, pumpkins, sweet corn, and other vegetables and goods is what easily sets him apart.
“My grandma (Mickie McGowan) loves to plant flowers and do a bunch of agricultural activities, and I wanted to carry it on with my mom,” Hunter said. “I wanted to start (my business) because she has a green house and she’s kind of like my role model in all of this, and so are my parents.”
While Hunter started Hunter’s Harvest Stand, 20964 Botkins Road, Jackson Center, a few years prior with mums, sweet corn and a pumpkin patch, it has since grown to include straw bails, vegetables, some fruit and baked goods that he makes with the help of his mother and grandmother. His personal goal with his business is to pursue a degree within the college of agriculture at Purdue University, and to eventually run his own farm somewhere in Ohio.
“That’s what I live around, is agriculture. I farm, do pigs, livestock, all of that stuff. I just want to stay in that,” said Hunter, who is the son of Holly and Aaron Lenhart. He attends eighth-grade at Botkins Local School District.
During the summer, the work Hunter puts into cultivating stock for his business takes up roughly 10 hours of his day, every day. During the school year its cut back to two to three hours a day, on top of school, cross country practice and homework. The whole process takes up roughly four months of his year, from planting products, to cultivating them, to picking them and prepping them for sale. While business closes down after the first week of November, he still puts effort into his work by keeping all the equipment he uses clean. His efforts don’t go unnoticed; most, if not all of his customers, return season after season to purchase everything from pumpkins to sweet corn, sometimes causing a line of cars to stretch around the gravel lot on the farm just to get an ear or two.
But beyond his iron clad work ethic and ambition, Hunter is, above all else, humble. Purchasing goods is done by the honors system, and customers are asked to drop their cash or check in a locked toolbox placed on a stand, surrounded by mums and gourds. More than anything, he believes everyone should have the chance to have something. He wants to be certain that anyone who comes to his pumpkin patch can walk away with something, even if they only have a dollar in their pocket.
“My favorite part is everyone being happy after they’re done with what they get here,” Hunter said. “Happy customers, that’s what’s important.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.