On a recent visit to a farmhouse filled with memories of their childhood, Sue Rowe and Mary Shannon recalled Christmases past as part of the Faught family, former owners of the home and surrounding property off FM 407 just west of Interstate 35-West.
Tucked in the center of a new 1,150-acre development sits the refurbished family home now serving as the community hub of Harvest, a new development by Hillwood Communities.
“All holidays were spent here,” Mary said. “Everybody was invited. Christmas was an especially big holiday.”
Santa would always drop in on Christmas Eve, bringing delight to both young and old alike. As they got older, the teens would try to guess who was missing from the dinner table to find out just who might be subbing for Santa that year, Mary said.
One year, Santa took a tumble off the porch, they recalled, chuckling. The jolly old elf was fine, though. The family also sang Christmas carols, exchanged gifts and read poetry.
The sisters laughed, recalling the stockings hung by the fireplace in the dining/living area. They’d find walnuts, oranges and apples inside – which coincidentally would become that holiday’s fruit salad.
“Christmas was really something,” Sue said.
Sue also recalled huge Thanksgiving Day feasts of 45-65 people where everyone brought something to add to the meal. Even Easter was a special event at the Faught Farm House, where the sisters’ mother would make sure there were enough hard-boiled eggs for family, neighbors and friends alike.
Generations of the original Faught family lived in the house, which was slowly built over time after James and Etta Faught began buying the property in 1856. The Faught family holdings eventually grew to 275 acres.
The Faught Farm House, more than 150 years old, still bears many of the original pieces from the wood floors and intricately-designed staircase rails to the fireplace mantel and the surrounding porch. In fact, the development’s name and insignia come from a harvest design found throughout the home – from the front door to the fireplace molding and beyond.
As the hub, the house also has been updated to reflect the newer smart technology and conservation ethos that is the theme of the Harvest community, which opened almost a year ago.
For the holidays, the home is filled with the trimming of Christmas – from the brightly lit trees inside and out to the holiday finery adorning fireplace mantels, porch rails, dining room table and more.
Sitting at a dining room table built using wood from a barn on the family farm, Mary and Sue looked around the house, dazzled by the decorations and enjoying the fact that their family home has been preserved.
“We were most grateful” for the Hillwood Communities’ efforts to preserve the home, Mary said. “We couldn’t have dreamed anything like this.”
Harvest combines smart technology with a conservation theme ranging from community gardening to recycling and more. The development, which is currently home to 65 families, is growing quickly with an estimated 170 contracts for new homes, which are priced from the mid-$200,000 to $400,000.
A greenbelt runs through the entire community, connecting each neighborhood and park to the rest of Harvest. Amenities include the two-acre Community Farm, where residents can have their own plot of land to grow seasonal crops with the help and advice from onsite farmer Rocky Tassione, who offers educational gardening classes.
The farm is across from an event lawn, where residents gather for events, and is adjacent to the newly-opened Harvest Hall, which overlooks an 11-acre lake. The community also has two resort-style pools, an amphitheater, parks, play fields and miles of hike and bike trails.
Approximately 3,200 single-family homes are planned in Harvest with 323 homes in the first phase. Harvest is the first development centered on Hillwood Communities’ five Live Smart principles which include: Sense of community, technology, healthy living, environmental stewardship and education and enrichment.
Harvest also offers an iPhone app for residents and a companion iPad app, which allows residents to connect with Rocky Tassione to see what is being harvested and to access recipes using fresh produce from the garden. Neighbors also stay in touch with each other and check the calendar of events.
The fact that conservation is a central theme to the community rings true to both Mary and Sue, whose father served many years on the Denton County Soil Conservation Board. Their mother was a home economics teacher. The family would plant huge gardens surrounded by plentiful fruit trees bearing pears, peaches, plums and more.
“The fact they are doing this – it’s in our DNA to preserve the land and use its resources,” Mary said. “It’s so fitting.”