Amanda and Colby Hatchett are living their dream and working many long hours to achieve success on their farm near Denton Valley in Callahan County.
As they completed their degrees from Texas A&M University in 2007, they wanted to return to home roots and develop an agricultural operation.
They have busy day jobs. Amanda is the owner and broker of Hatchett Real Estate, and Colby is on the road as the state horticultural and perennial crop representative for the federal crop insurance program. Weekends and late nights for the couple are devoted to the development of the farm enterprises. If that is not enough, they also have a young son, Haden Ray, 2½.
Denton Valley Farms produces many seasonal crops. As a learning process and to find what crops and varieties are best suited for the region, they began with a 2.5-acre test plot.
"We learn quickly what we cannot grow," said Colby.
The farm has expanded to several acres with a full array of products available for sale. One of the first things learned besides variety selection was the need to construct a deer-proof fence around the entire farm.
Beginning in the spring, blackberries, peaches and plums become available. As harvest season continues, the offering expands to black-eyed peas, cantaloupes, watermelons and okra. When available they also have lamb, beef and goat meat, which is processed at a facility with a certified USDA inspector on site. The Hatchetts have also established a vineyard that is showing excellent potential.
As the couple into this next growing season, they have many plans and projects.
Since all produce is sold on-site, a special farm store is being constructed as a marketing center. All produce will be harvested, packaged and available in specific quantities.
Homemade peach ice cream will be available. In the fall of 2016, plans are to have a pumpkin patch.
"Our goal is have a place where people can bring their children and grandkids to enjoy the country and farm experience," said Amanda.
This year, the Hatchetts took a giant leap in the diversification of Denton Valley Farms. Completed in May was an 8,100-square-foot pavilion located in the middle of the vineyard and orchard. With a seating capacity of more than 400, it is a great venue for weddings, other events and large and small parties. Soon after completion, weddings were being booked. In an adjacent location, the Hatchetts have developed a picturesque location for an outdoor wedding ceremony.
"But whatever the weather, we can host anything. All they need to do is let us know what they want, and we will take care of all the details," said Amanda.
As a young couple, the Hatchetts are a perfect example of taking a parcel of land, and developing it to its maximum potential. The secret is long hours of hard work, and total dedication to goals, the Hatchetts prove that.
By: Gary Bomar
Published November 15, 2015 by Abilene Reporter News
Couple finds multiple uses for Denton Valley farm