About us

MISSION

McKinney Roots is a food donation garden in McKinney. Our mission is to supply fresh produce to the food insecure by growing and distributing it to local nonprofits, churches, and schools, alleviating hunger with healthful, nutrient-dense food.

HISTORY

McKinney Roots was founded in 2017 by three moms who dreamed of growing food in their backyard gardens to give away to those in need. Currently, McKinney Roots is operating on a five-acre plot of land in West McKinney donated for this use by its owners, Dr. Muhammad Uddin and Dr. Rahima Afroza. In 2020, McKinney Roots became an initiative of the Seed Project Foundation.

VICKI DEERMAN – Executive Director

As a volunteer and employee, Vicki has held leadership roles and served on the boards of several non-profits, most recently as the Executive Director for the Foundation for Lovejoy Schools, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the students, faculty, and staff of the Lovejoy ISD. Previously she served as the office and finance manager of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation and as a software engineer at Raytheon. She has a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from the University of Dallas.

TUCKER NICKOLS – Farm Manager

Tucker was born and raised in Texas. After high school, he received a scholarship to attend a small liberal arts university in St. Louis, Missouri, where he graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology in 2013. After some international travel, Tucker set roots in McKinney working at a farm to table restaurant and retail shop. He began working as the Farm Manager of McKinney Roots in January of 2020. Tucker enjoys spending time with his wife, their animals, and a nice cold beverage outside.

CASEY CUTLER – Program Manager

Casey is native to Boston but has made McKinney her home since 2020. Casey’s passion for the environment and community building led her to join Peace Corps in Paraguay where she lived and worked for three years. A role with the Trinity River Audubon Center brought her to Texas and into the nonprofit world. Casey discovered her love of agriculture and local food, joining the Seattle Farmers Market Association as the Operations Manager. She quickly ran back to the Texas sun where she jumped into the Dallas farmers market scene as Executive Director of Good Local Markets. Casey homesteads in McKinney alongside her husband, two daughters, two Pyrenees, two goats, two mini horses, two bunnies, and two hundred chickens.

CARISSA BLEEKER – Co-founder and Board Member

Carissa co-founded McKinney Roots in 2017. Her love of gardening began while working in her grandmother’s garden as a child, and is now being passed along to her own children. She graduated from the University of North Texas in 2009 with a Bachelors of Fine Art and worked as a letterpress printmaker before founding McKinney Roots.

RICK WELLS – Board Member

After growing up in the family steakhouse business, Rick earned a degree in business administration from Southeastern State University. Rick has over 35 years of experience in the hospitality industry and is the owner of Wells Hospitality Group, which co-owns Rick’s Chophouse and Harvest Seasonal Kitchen in Historic Downtown McKinney. Rick has a rich past in philanthropy including serving as the President of the Samaritan Inn and President of the Foundation for Lovejoy Schools. In 2018, he was awarded two inaugural awards, the Cornerstone Ranch LaFerney Community Hero award and the Cultivating Land and Community Award from Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. In 2019, Rick was honored as Distinguished Alumnus of Southeastern State University.

MEGAN NEUBAUER – Board Member and Farm Mentor

Megan graduated with a BS in Biology from Boston University in 2004. After several years working in biotech and scientific research, Megan and her father created Pure Land Farm in McKinney in 2012, a seasonal pick-your-own fruit and vegetable farm. Pure Land Farm uses all organic methods on three acres of thornless blackberries and two acres of annual fruits and vegetables. She has served as the Executive Director of the Seed Project Foundation and Creative Director for Wells Hospitality Group/DFA since 2016.

ANDREA SHACKELFORD – Board Member

Raised in Dallas, Andrea Shackelford graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2007 and embarked on a career committed to the farm to table movement. After honing her skills alongside notable chefs Tom Colicchio, Jeff Harris, Tim Bevins, and Graham Dodds, Andrea joined Wells Hospitality Group/DFA in 2012. Under her direction, Harvest was named one of the Best New Restaurants of 2014 by the Dallas Morning News and featured on the cover of D Magazine’s Best Restaurants of 2015. Andrea is a Master Gardener and founding member of the Seed Project Foundation.

LYNNE SIPIORA – Board Member

Lynne was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and settled in McKinney 22 years ago. She has been in not for profit management for her entire career including roles in social services, the arts and health care, most recently as CEO of the Samaritan Inn from 2005-2015. Lynne is also a published author and has written for a variety of local and regional publications.

TOBY THOMASON – Board Member

Toby Thomason has operated restaurants and bars in the Austin and Dallas areas for the last 20 years. Toby has devoted his career to the pursuit and knowledge of the history and mixology of cocktails. In 2016, Toby became a Master Naturalist for the Blackland Prairie chapter in Collin County, applying his knowledge of local flora and fauna to curate the beverage program at Harvest. Toby is  the General Manager of Harvest Seasonal Kitchen, overseeing all conservation practices and the pursuit of a completely sustainable beverage program.