We’ve Joined the Seed Project Foundation!
JULY 27, 2020
We’re excited to announce McKinney Roots has joined forces with McKinney nonprofit the Seed Project Foundation! It’s been a long and challenging journey to get to where we are today, but we couldn’t be more excited for the future.
Back in 2016, Carissa Bleecker, Michelle McCarley and Taylor Stone had a dilemma. They were all growing produce in their home gardens and wanted to give away the extra produce to local food pantries. After some research, they realized quickly that fresh produce was needed in the community. Fresh produce can be expensive, and the food insecure (e.g. those at or below the poverty line) struggle to provide their families with healthy options. With this knowledge, they purchased some chickens and began growing in their backyards with the dream to feed people experiencing food insecurity with fresh, healthy nutrient-dense food. McKinney Roots was born, and a team of volunteers began growing and distributing food through nonprofits, churches, and schools to alleviate hunger in the McKinney area.
The word got out quickly about the donation farm. Within six months of being established, production moved from the founders’ backyards to a piece of land in West McKinney. A local family owned a piece of land and wished to grow food on, but did not have the knowledge or time to do so. They offered a free lease to McKinney Roots, so the organization could have a larger home.
With the increase of space, McKinney Roots has been fortunate to have a loyal army of volunteers throughout the years to give helping hands to gather around the garden, planting, digging, learning and making a difference in their community. McKinney Roots has also benefited from the invaluable expertise of the Collin County Master Gardens and some passionate farmers to help with soil quality, irrigation, and design layout of the farm. Founder Carissa Bleeker says that “each time [McKinney Roots was] in need, someone would pop up to help, sometimes out of the blue.” Over the last four years, the organization has partnered with several organizations: Salvation Army, Samaritan Inn, Community Lifeline Center, Free Little Pantry, Red Door Pantry, and several local churches to distribute 6,000lbs of fresh produce and another 6,000 pounds of eggs.
As the 2020 season approached, McKinney Roots was struggling to keep the farm going. Carissa spoke to Rick Wells, founder of the Seed Project Foundation and local restaurateur in McKinney, and Meg Neubauer, co-founder of Pure Land Farm and Executive Director of the Seed Project Foundation about a desire to partner with an outside entity to help with fundraising. A week later, Roots accepted the Seed Project Foundation’s offer to join their organization. The Seed Project Foundation funds agricultural, educational, and community initiatives that support sustainability, a perfect fit for our mission.
Summer of 2020 has been the first season that the organizations have worked together and there have already been many victories to celebrate. The farm added trellises to increase production of the peas, there have been an increased number of volunteers coming out for the first time, and a new sign reflecting the Seed Project Foundation’s partnership is being installed by an Eagle Scout. With food insecurity skyrocketing during COVID-19, the mission of McKinney Roots is even more pertinent and there is a deep motivation to increase production so we are capable of giving out as much food as possible. The Seed Project Foundation and McKinney Roots are driven to produce food with our primary purpose in mind: to alleviate hunger with healthful, nutrient-dense food.