Hidden Harvest is worth the look
Tired of busy grocery stores? This family farm offers great produce and a learning experience.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 2021
Potatoes, onions, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes are the staples, but Halvorson’s Hidden Harvest also is home to berries, grapes, fruit orchards and a growing number of animals.
Amy Halvorson holds two baby goats at the family farm just east of Temple.
Temple family farm has growing plans
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple exclusive
The road to farm living has been a bumpy ride for the Halvorson family.
“I planted my first seed in 2008, but I didn’t pick my first vegetable until 2011,” laughs James, who runs Halvorson’s Hidden Harvest with his wife, Amy, and their kids — Landon, 16, and Lexi, 11.
Yep, there were a few bumps along the way.
James and Amy both served in the military — he was Army, she was Air Force. After finishing their military commitments, they moved from Milwaukee to Temple and bought Amy’s grandparents farm.
James enrolled in the Battleground to Breaking Ground program offered by Texas AgriLife, and learned farming basics. The program helps military personnel transition to careers in agriculture.
“We also hopped on Google and YouTube,” he said. “You don’t have to know everything, there are good resources out there.”
The Halvorson’s learned the best resources weren’t the ones they found online. Their farm on Chief the Land Road was surrounded by an encyclopedia of ag knowledge.
“Our neighbors have lived here and farmed here their entire lives,” Amy said. “They know what works and what doesn’t. We asked for advice, and we listened.”
After buying the farm, the transition to full-time farming wasn’t immediate.
“Really, this was never meant to be a business, just a family farm,” James said. “It’s been my job for seven years now.”
At the start, Amy was studying to become a teacher and she continues to educate kids at Jefferson Elementary. James was a contractor at Fort Hood, but as he began to have success in the family garden, he needed to find an outlet for their produce.
“During the Battleground to Breaking Ground course, I met a gentleman who manages a farmers market over in Killeen,” James said. “So, I started taking a load of vegetables over there. I met a lot of people, and I sold a lot of produce. That’s when the lightbulb went off in my head. We had the land but needed direction.”
The Halvorson’s didn’t have to look far to find their inspiration.
“Our children were a big motivation,” he said. “Like most kids, they wanted to eat hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza — junk. We wanted to get them involved in growing healthy food on the farm.”
“We let them pick out the seeds,” Amy said. “They picked things they liked, of course, and they helped plant seeds, work the garden and harvest the crops.”
Lexi’s first seed to plant was a purple bell pepper — Landon chose eggplant and cherry tomatoes.
“They really enjoyed it,” Amy said. “And now they even help cook.”
During the first few years of Halverson’s Hidden Harvest, the family grew a diverse mix of vegetables. The biggest sellers at markets were cucumbers, tomatoes and squash.
“Those are still No. 1,” Amy said. “Everyone loves fresh summer squash and tomatoes.”
Over the years, they’ve added a ton of variety.
Potatoes, onions, zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes are the staples, but the farm also is home to berries, grapes, fruit orchards and a growing number of animals.
Next month, the Halvorson’s will plant 14,000 strawberry plants. All by hand.
“It will take six very full days, but we will get them planted,” James said.
The farm also is home to peaches, plums, apricots, grapes and nine varieties of blackberries, all grown using natural processes.
“We don’t spray with chemicals,” Amy said. “We don’t want to rinse, just pick and eat. I love to see kids come out of the fields with purple mouths.”
The Halvorsons allow families to pick their own peaches, strawberries and blackberries.
“The strawberries start ripening in late March,” James said. “With so many varieties of blackberries, we can offer U-Pick from April through July.”
Although Halvorson’s farm isn’t certified as organic, the family does use all-natural practices. James said the term “organic” can be misleading and it is largely a marketing tool.
“Don’t worry about organic certification,” he said. “Find a local farm and go there. Talk to the farmer, get to know them and their methods, and make sure you feel good about what you’re eating. Most farmers will not hesitate to show you how they grow.”
The Halvorsons said their customers are extremely loyal.
“We have people who call us up and ask if they can come help plant or harvest,” Amy said. “The want their children to know where healthy food comes from.”
Although the farm is home to a small but growing herd of cattle, the family is not yet in the beef business.
“I knew nothing about the cattle business, so I decided to learn,” he said. “To accomplish that, I leased some land to someone with extensive experience. But instead of charging him money, he gives me a cow every year in exchange for teaching us the ropes. My herd is growing.”
The Halvorsons plan to offer grass-fed beef and pasture poultry in the future. They do, however, have plenty of egg-laying chickens and tons of canned goods.
“We have 28 different items that we can,” Amy said. “Pickles are No. 1, but we have watermelon jelly, blackberry jams and pickled okra…we never waste anything. If we have excess tomatoes, we make salsa. If we have extra fruit or berries, we make wine.”
In addition to meats, the farm’s future also includes a variety of wines. In fact, that process has already started.
“We have about 100 Lenoir — Black Spanish — vines,” he said. “Lenoir vines are very labor intensive — they have to be pruned often or you will get more vine than grape.”
James has already been experimenting with wines, and he has done a lot of his own genetics work — grafting and bringing in drought and disease resistant rootstock.
“Wine is going to be a big part of the farm eventually,” he said. “We will use fruits and berries along with the grapes.”
The Halvorson family lives in a house that was originally constructed sometime around 1890. A new house is under construction, and the farmhouse will likely be transformed into the winery.
Also on the farm is a small log cabin that the Halvorson’s believe was built around 1840.
“It’s in rough shape, but we hope to restore it at some point,” James said. “Eighty percent of the logs are still there. I have a sawmill, so I can replace any logs that are missing.”
With Amy’s background as a teacher, and James’s passion for growing, the Halvorson’s feel inspired to educate Central Texas and share their knowledge. The farm is open to the public and there are no admission fees.
“We have rabbits for kids to play with, chickens, baby goats, cows, a donkey. We have a lot of visitors, and we try to educate them about where food comes from,” Amy said. “You’d be surprised — a lot of kids don’t realize the chicken they eat comes from chickens with feathers.”
Meet the Halvorsons — Amy, James, Landon and Lexi. The family owns and operates Halvorsons Hidden Harvest, a popular stop for eggs, fresh fruits, berries and vegetables. The family plans to expand its offerings to include beef, poultry and wine.
REELING IN THE CURE
September 11, Saturday - Pink Fishing’s Reeling in the Cure, 6th annual bass tournament. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patients and cancer research. Cedar Ridge Park. 6 a.m. Call (254) 681-0102 for details
GOOD. Water lightly stained; 87 Degrees; 0.12 feet low. Black bass are good on blue flecked Texas rigged plastic worms, chartreuse swim jigs and bladed spinners. White Bass are good on the main lake points, flats and humps using white/chartreuse jigging spoons and slabs. Hybrid stripers are fair with live bait and pearl swimbaits in the main lake along the channel edges where bait is present. Crappie are fair on minnows in brush piles and timber in water depths 14-25 feet. Catfish are good on chicken liver, live and cut bait. Be safe this holiday weekend.
GOOD. Water lightly stained; 88 degrees; 0.16 feet high. Black bass are good on drop shots, shad like crankbaits and spinners working vegetation, grass lines and hydrilla beds early in the day, then deeper water and timber with football jigs, diving crankbaits and Texas rigged plastic worms. Smallmouth bass are good with plastic grubs, small spoons and rooster tails near rocky shorelines, rock ledges and drop-offs. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs in brush piles and timber. White bass are good on slabs and live bait off main lake points, humps and drop-offs. Channel catfish are good with night crawlers and punch bait. Blue catfish are good with fresh-cut bait and live bait. Be safe this holiday weekend.
What’s happening, Temple?
September 2, Thursday - Ladies Night at Moe’s Rail Yard Saloon, downtown Temple. 7-11 p.m.
September 2, Thursday - Central Texas State Fair, Bell County Expo Center. Wade Bowen. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 2, Thursday - Military and First Responders Appreciation Day, Corkey’s, all day.
September 3, Friday - Central Texas State Fair, Pat Green. Twisted Metal Mayhem Derby. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 3, Friday - First Friday Karaoke with DJ Brian Houge. 8 p.m.
September 3, Friday - First Friday Block Party, Fire Base Brewing Company. Axe throwing and music by Dustin Brown & The Now. 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
September 3, Friday - First Friday downtown Temple.
September 3, Friday - Artist 2 Artist Showcase, First Friday, 5 S. Main, Temple. 4-9 p.m.
September 4, Saturday - Game of Thrones Trivia Night at Fire Base Brewing Co., 7 p.m.
September 4, Saturday - Central Texas State Fair, Flatland Calvary, Professional Bull Riding. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 4, Saturday - Comedy Showcase with Mysia Chabert, Corky’s, 8 p.m.
September 5, Sunday - Central Texas State Fair, Aaron Watson, Professional Bull Riding. Bell County Expo Center. 5 p.m. to midnight.
September 5, Sunday - Board Game Blast. Board games, mini golf, darts and foosball. All day.
September 7, Tuesday - The Academy HS class of 2022 is hosting a Project Celebration fundraiser at McAlister’s Deli from 5 to 10 PM. Must mention AHS ‘22 in person or use DONATEMCA when ordering online.
September 7, Tuesday - Interested in learning to dance, but not sure how to get started? Be our guest and join us for a sample class, professional performances, social dancing, and hors d’oeuvres. This is a great opportunity to get introduced to Arthur Murray in Temple and finding out more about what we have to offer! Open to the public, RSVP (254) 721-9524
September 7, Tuesday - A Great Frontier Odyssey: Sketching the American West, Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum, A new traveling exhibition documenting the 1873 overland journey of artists Jules Tavernier and Paul Frenzeny, on display from September 5 to November 7. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
September 8, Wednesday - Open Mic Comedy, Corky’s. Sign up at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m.
September 9, Thursday - Martian Folk live band, Corky’s, 7 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Madstone live at O’Briens Irish Pub, 9 p.m.
September 10, Friday - John Henry Johnson live at Fire Base Brewing Company, 6:30 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Josh Abbott Band live at Johnny’s Steaks and Bar-Be-Que, Salado. 6 p.m.
September 10, Friday - Clint Walker Blues Band, Fire Street Pizza, Belton. 6 p.m.
September 10, Friday - First Friday Karaoke with DJ Brian Houge. 8 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Weird Science. Explore different adaptations animals have made through presentations, fun games, and activities. Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo: All-American Songs, Fire Base Brewing Company, 7:30 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - Pink Fishing’s Reeling in the Cure, 6th annual bass tournament. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patients and cancer research. Cedar Ridge Park. 6 a.m. Call (254) 681-0102 for details.
September 11, Saturday - 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb & Ceremony. Wildcat Stadium. 7-11 a.m.
September 11, Saturday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 11, Saturday - Turn 2 Entertainment Comedy Showcase, Corky’s, 8 p.m.
September 12, Sunday - A Sami Show Arts & Crafts Market, Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m.
September 12, Sunday - Corky’s Dart Tournament, 3 p.m.
September 12, Sunday - Rescue Magazine’s Pet Adoption Extravaganza. There will almost 400 Animals up for adoption and fun for the whole family. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
September 13, Monday - Third House Session with State Rep. Hugh Shine, Belton Area Chamber of Commerce, 7 a.m.
September 15, Wednesday - Tiny Thinkers, Kids 5 years old and younger are invited to the museum to experience the State Fair! Bell County Museum. 10 a.m.
September 17, Friday - Matt Cearley & The Rowdy Few live at O’Briens Irish Pub, 9 p.m.
September 17, Friday - Wade Ralston live at Fire Base Brewing Company, 6:30 p.m.
September 17, Friday - Neal McCoy, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 9:30 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - The Chancers, O’Briens Irish Pub, 9 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Night Bright Bike Ride, Pepper Creek Train off North Kegley. Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to local food pantries. Trail parking is available at the Scott & White West Campus next to the hospital's parking lot. Look for green trail signs along FM 2305 and Kegley Road to direct you to the parking area. 6:30-9 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Harvest Celebration. Bring your family and friends to enjoy grape stomping, food trucks, music, and wine. This is a ticketed event. 3 Texans Winery. 6 p.m.
September 18, Saturday - Detox/Retox Yoga, Fire Base Brewing Company, 11 a.m.
September 18, Saturday - Original Debonaires Reunion Dance, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 8:30 p.m.
September 21, Tuesday - Body of Christ Community Clinic’s Together We Heal Banquet, UMHB, Jimmy Dorrell, keynote speaker. 5:30 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Maxx Carter live at Fire Base Brewing Company, 6:30 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Belton Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival, noon to 9 p.m.
September 24, Friday - Aaron Watson, Cotton Country Club, Granger. 9:30 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Name That Tune Bingo: Belt it Out Edition. Fire Base Brewing Company, 7:30 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Belton Bacon, Blues & Brews Festival, noon to 9 p.m.
September 25, Saturday - Fun at the Fair! Join us at the museum to for fun at the fair! View the newest exhibit and take part in fun activities - explore symmetry by decorating a popcorn bucket, build your own mini rollercoaster, race your family in duck races, and visit our petting zoo! Bell County Museum. 11 a.m.
September 25, Saturday - Dale Watson, Texas Music Series, Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - TLC’s Celebration of Crazy, Sexy Cool with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Bell County Expo Center. 7:30 p.m.
September 30, Thursday - Funniest Comic in Texas semi-finals. Corky’s.
October 1, Friday - Randy Rogers Band, Johnny Steaks and Bar-Be-Que, Salado. 6 p.m.
October 5, Tuesday - Temple’s National Night Out. Anyone interested in hosting a party in their neighborhood should register by Sept. 13 at templetx.gov/nno. 6:30 p.m.
October 7, Thursday - The Spazmatics, Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton. 6 p.m.
October 8, Friday - Painting with a Twist, 3 Texans Winery. 6:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Shinyribs, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
October 9, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 11-17 - Hocus Pocus, The Beltonian Theatre, Belton. Noon.
October 16, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 16, Saturday - Michael Salgado at Schoepf’s BBQ in Belton, 6 p.m.
October 18-23 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Beltonian, Belton. 6-8 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Don Gregory Memorial Lions Club Golf Tournament. Sammons Golf Course. Contact Jeffrey Thigpen Thigpen.email@example.com to register or for sponsorship opportunities. 4-person scramble begins at 8:30 a.m.
October 23, Saturday - Free Movie Night. Harker Heights Community Park. 5 p.m.
October 23, Saturday - Oktoberfest 2021, Barrow Brewing Company, Salado, noon to 10:30 p.m.
October 29, Friday - Season closing event, Domestics vs Imports, Little River Dragway, 7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Barktoberfest, Dog costume contest at 5:30; adoptable dogs on site. Barrow Brewing Co., Salado. 1-7 p.m.
October 30, Saturday - Bulls & BBQ, Live bull riding followed by concert with Jake Worthington and Keith Braxton. Schoepf’s BBQ, Belton, Noon.
November 4, Thursday - Spur Classic Sporting Clay Shoot, Weber Shooting Range. 8 a.m.
November 6, Saturday - Chris Hillman, Texas Music Series,Cultural Activities Center. 7:30 p.m.
November 13, Saturday - Market in the Vines. Take a walk through the vines and shop with over 50 vendors! Free to the public. 3 Texans Winery. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November 18, Thursday - Taste of the Holidays 2021: A Candy Cane Christmas. Mayborn Convention Center. 10:30 a.m.
December 4, Saturday - Barrow Brewing Christmas Market, Salado. Noon.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.