2017 Farm & Food Leadership Conference

Farm & Food Leadership Conference – Historic Downtown McKinney

Farm & Food Leadership Conference Overview

If you are interested in learning more about sustainable farming and local products you need to attend the 2017 Farm & Food Leadership Conference. You will have the opportunity to connect with others who are passionate about this cause. Furthermore you will be making a difference in the farming industry for the future of local agriculture. This event will give you the opportunity to focus on policies and regulations that affect our farms and local foods. You will be given the tools and information needed to develop sustainable agriculture. This event is not only for farmers, we strongly encourage anyone working in the food industry, local business owners, and nonprofit advocates to attend. Each attendee will gain the knowledge to support and participate in the local and sustainable food movement.

Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance


What To Expect

This is the first time in 11 years that the Food & Farm Conference has been located in North Texas.

-You can expect in depth workshops to help farmers and producers with practical solutions such as how to form a successful co-op and food safety for produce growers.

-You will hear top speakers on a variety of topics including nutrition, sustainable sourcing at restaurants and retailers, food waste, water policy, farm support programs, GMO’s, food freedom, and more.

-Fred Kirschenmann, President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture will be speaking over multiple topics.

-You will have the opportunity to network with fellow individuals that share the same passions.

-You will have the option to attend an on-farm dinner, prepared by Harvest Seasonal Kitchen from food grown by local farmers.

Register Here


Sunday, Sept. 24: Pre-Conference Workshops | Heard Natural Science Museum

Monday – Times subject to change

9 a.m.: Welcome

9:15-10:15 a.m.: Keynote by Fred Kirschenmann

10:30-noon: Session 1:

  • Activism at the local level
  • Climate change: Looking past the “cause debate” to build resilient systems
  • Access to government resources for small farmers
  • Co-op Q&A

Noon-1:30: Lunch is on your own, with five farm-to-table options on the Square, plus numerous other eateries and shops to visit.

1:30-2:45 p.m.: Session 2

  • Effective legislative advocacy
  • Seed diversity
  • Growing sustainable grains
  • Farmers’ Market Q&A

3:15-4:30 p.m.: Session 3

  • Farm Bill, corporate mergers, and the news from DC
  • Activating your microbiota for health
  • How do we sustain Farm-to-Table?
  • Food Policy Board networking session

6 p.m.: Farm-to-Table Dinner at Pure Land Organic Farm, McKinney, Texas


Tuesday – Times subject to change

8:30 – 9:30 a.m.: Plenary session with Alan Lewis

9:35 – 10:35 a.m.: Session 1

  • GMO Basics
  • Wild foods: A guide to foraging
  • Opportunities for young farmers and military veterans

10:55 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.: Session 2

  • The latest news and developments with GMOs
  • Protecting pollinators
  • Farmer’s markets … what’s working and what’s not
  • Fermentation demonstration

1:210 – 1:40: Lunch is on your own, with five farm-to-table options on the Square, plus numerous other eateries and shops to visit.

1:40-3:10 p.m.: Session 3

  • Water and the future of our food
  • Food access: how do we get good food to more people?
  • Revenue streams for small farmers
  • Cooking demonstration

3:30-4:45 p.m. Session 4

  • Texas legislative update
  • Home gardening
  • The outlook for local brewers & distillers

4:45 p.m.: Closing

Harvest/Ricks Team

An Interview With Rick Wells: Harvest – Ricks Chophouse – Water Boy Farms


The first time Rick remembers being interested in the service industry was at the age of 12 after his parents bought a restaurant. With Rick’s father being a football coach, he says he would have followed in his father’s footsteps if it weren’t for the family owned restaurant. After graduating college Rick started working with Bennigans and Sambuca opening up restaurants all across the country. He was educated on how to evaluate markets and project success for new locations.

Water Boy Garden

In 2003 Rick and his wife decided to buy some land in Lucas, build a home, and settle down. They wanted to give their children the opportunity to grow up on a farm looking up at the stars at night in awe of this beautiful place we call home. This farm is now Water Boy Farms, which supplies Harvest and Rick’s Chophouse with fruits, vegetables, and honey. In 2004 Rick was thinking about making a job change from the corporate world to something more community involved. After doing a little homework he decided McKinney was going to be the center of his universe, and he started Rick’s Chophouse.

Inside Ricks Chophouse

Rick’s Chophouse was the first restaurant he opened in McKinney, and after receiving the philanthropist of the year award in 2012 Rick was humbled and wanted to continue investing in his community. One statistic that stuck with him was “for every dollar you spend in a community $0.70 stays local.” He had a new goal in mind focused on the community and surrounding area. Rick wanted to fully stock his restaurants with locally grown products; this is where Harvest comes into the picture. After taking two years to evaluate and plan, Harvest was opened and in full swing, using local materials and recycled products to build this one of a kind restaurant.

Inside Harvest

-Current and Future Business

With around 40 farms to stock Harvest including Ricks personal Water Boy Farms, Harvest is known for its fresh and organic ingredients. The farm is run by Master Gardener and Executive Chef Andrea Shackelford, along with employees of Rick’s Chophouse and Harvest as a team effort to serve fresh local ingredients.

Water Boy Farm Vegetables

Each employee at Harvest and Rick’s Chophouse is put through an extensive hiring and training process in both restaurants! The restaurants run on “a one heart culture” meaning that each person is bigger than himself or herself and apart of a community that invests in each other. Rick has a very strong passion for this community!

Water Boy Honey

The two things Rick loves most are education and food, and with 1 school already and another on the way and 2 restaurants it is obvious that the Wells family has a bright outlook on the future of McKinney. Rick has so much in store for this community that goes far beyond his lifetime. The work Rick is doing right now will last for 100’s of years to come in this beautiful North Texas Town.

Water Boy Farms


Local Yocal – Farm Fresh Products & Butcher

Local Yocal Supplies Farm To Market Freshness Centered Around Customer Needs!

It all started when Local Yocal owner/operator Matt Hamilton made a decision to ditch the corporate world and start a beef company. After starting Geniuses Beef Hamilton soon realized that processors around this area didn’t have the correct licensing for resale. The Processors that did obtain the appropriate licensing were backed up and very hard to work with. This is how Local Yocal came to be, a lack of farm fresh meats and a desire to serve customers! With the processing side of the operation now taking place in-house, Hamilton had confidence in the product he was selling.


Starting off at local farmers markets Hamilton met an array of families selling great products just like him. This inspired Hamilton to pursue the retail side of the business in order to house great products locally made by great people! You can the store front in Historic Downtown McKinney stocked with fresh meat and high-quality hand made products.

Fresh Meat On Display

Hamilton now sells a farm fresh meat out of the store front as well as to whole sale local restaurants in McKinney and the surrounding area. A few of these restaurants include Harvest, The Pub McKinney, Square Burger, and Al Biernat’s Steak House.


Hamilton has dedicated a great deal of time to establish relationships with each supplier he features in his store. When you walk into Local Yocal you can be sure that you’re receiving the best products in Dallas!

Babe's Chicken Dinner House

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House – Good Homestyle Cooking

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House – Frisco, TX

Are you looking for some delicious southern cooking? You need not look any further because Babe’s Chicken Dinner House has got you taken care of. The Babe’s Atmosphere welcomes anyone into its casual and comfortable home. You won’t find any fancy decorations or dress code, rather a family style establishment where your neighbors wait on you and your whole family.

Babe's Seating


In 1981 Paul and Mary Beth Vinyard opened their first Country Cooking restaurant and named it Bubba’s. You will find Bubba’s in Dallas near SMU in a 1927 Texaco Service Station. This restaurant is very similar to Babe’s in the food that it serves, but it is more of a serve yourself or grab it To-Go location. On April 22, 1993, they opened their second restaurant and named it Babe’s Chicken Dinner House! The first Babe’s was built in a 1908 warehouse in Roanoke, Texas.

Babe's Tower“Babe” was Mary Beth’s nick name, and since she developed all the recipes it only felt natural. Over the next few years, Babe’s expanded substantially with an additional 8 locations including the one in Frisco. Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Frisco opened on July 14, 2008. Each location takes pride in establishing strong roots in the community it serves. The employees live in these communities and play an active role in promoting the well-being of its residence!
Babe's Fried Chicken

-Babe’s Hours

Mon-Fri: 11-2 & 5-9

Sat-Sun: 11-9

Babe's Hours

Tub Of Love - Dude, Sweet Chocolate

Dude, Sweet Chocolate – Dark Handcrafted Treats!

Dude, Sweet Chocolate Is A Dark Chocolate Manufacturer, Distributor, And Retailer Focusing On Handmade Chocolate Creations.

Their product is handcrafted to create the best combination of fudges, truffles, nuts, and chocolate bars! There are currently four Dude, Sweet Chocolate locations in the DFW area where you can directly purchase your favorite sweets. They also maintain sales relationships with dozens of local and out of state resellers such as Whole Foods, winery and distillery operations, P.F. Chang’s, and more.

DSC Toffee

Dude, Sweet Chocolate created at a dive bar south of downtown Dallas where Chef Katherine Clapner and Redding May were regulars. After Mr. May partnered with Ms. Clapner to send unique chocolates as gifts while working with Merrill Lynch, Clapner decided to run with the idea. Selling her chocolates in summer heat at farmers markets she had the idea of opening up a local store! December of 2008 the first store/kitchen opened its doors! “At Dude, Sweet Chocolate we strive to differentiate ourselves by maintaining intense focus on the quality of the culinary product itself, and not getting lost in the rest of the product design process. You will not find a single bow, ribbon, or shiny box in our stores. Kraft paper packaging, brown labeling, and simple, clean design shift attention to the chocolate, which stands on its own.” –Dude, Sweet Chocolate Team

Dude Sweet Chocolate - Chocolate Vinegar
Katherine takes pride in factoring in different flavor profiles that wouldn’t usually fit in at a chocolate shop. Flavors such as Albatross blue cheese, sea salt fudge, and pumpkin seed toffee are local favorites. These are the types of products that make Mr. Clapner’s shop stand out from the usual chocolate shop, and she seems to effortlessly blow expectations out of the water!


Dude, Sweet Chocolate also offers unique products for corporate gifting that will leave a lasting impression on your customers. Mix and match the award winning chocolates to create a gift that is hand made and different.



McKinney Wine Merchant – Historic Downtown

Collin County’s Most Inspired and Intrepid Selection of Wine!

It’s time to ditch the Franzia and get over to McKinney Wine Merchant! This locally owned and operated merchant is housing some of the most delicious and exotic wines McKinney has to offer. Andy Doyle, a former U.S. Marine, is the owner/operator and has over 25 years of experience in the wine industry. Opening the doors April 5, 2011, you will still find Andy behind the counter and available for questions if you choose to visit the local downtown shop! His desire to accommodate each and every customer far outshines the corporate mindset to sell the most expensive bottle. Andy will personally help you find the perfect pairing for any event, dinner, or day by the pool.



-About McKinney Wine Merchant

McKinney Wine Merchant carries about 200 wines from six continents. Prices range from $9.00 to $300. McKinney Wine Merchant will deliver wine in McKinney and the surrounding 2 miles. They also offer a Wine-of-the-Month Club for an affordable surprise 12 times per year (every month). The Wine Merchant does a great job of finding the hidden treasures whether it’s a $10 Chardonnay you fell in love with on your honeymoon, or a $100 Cabernet from a tiny vineyard that few have ever heard of. There are also a few beers and accessories available in the store as well.

“I’m dedicated to the preservation of serious winemaking, and the enjoyment of serious wine. You should make every effort to buy all of your wine at McKinney Wine Merchant, forever.” -Andy Doyle


Frios Gourmet Pops – Downtown McKinney

Frios Pops Makes Every Day a Good Day!
Fresh, frozen, fun best describes the gourmet pops served at Frios. Each pop is handmade with the freshest ingredients and sweetened with organic cane sugar. The team has established outstanding relationships with the farmers that supply them with the dairy and fruit used in the pops. This relationship ensures the utmost quality for every pop.
Frios Blueberry Cheesecake
Each popsicle is frozen to perfection with a fusion of different flavors that will burst in your mouth. There is currently one Frios in the Dallas area and they are located in the Historic Downtown of McKinney. They also cater events with a cart or a portable freezer for all of your outside activities with a large variety of flavors to choose from!
Frios Pops Portable
“The best part of our job is the reward of watching people smile as they enjoy our product. We’ve seen moms soothe their teething baby’s gums with a fresh strawberry pop; we’ve seen a teenage couple on their first date laughing and enjoying a pop in front of our store; we’ve been honored to be part of a newly married couple reception as the crowd toasts a life of happiness with a pop raised high. We’ve also enjoyed the company of a senior citizen who is instantly reminded of childhood summers after eating one of our muscadine pops.” – Frios Team
Frios CTC

Cheezies Artisan Grilled Cheese

Cheezies – An Artisan Made Grilled Cheese

Family Owned & Operated Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Robert Sansone has been serving up some of the tastiest grilled cheese creations Collin County has to offer. After concluding the corporate world wasn’t for him, Robert decided to invest in himself and his community by starting Cheezies. Robert grew up in Memphis surrounded by great food and diverse culture. Being of German and Sicilian decent Robert remembers the holidays being a feast of food from different parts of the world. These are the memories Robert accredits with influencing him to take on the culinary lifestyle. During an interview with Robert, he stated, “Ever since I was a child I have known I wanted to be in the culinary industry”. After graduating High School Robert moved to Dallas and started his cooking journey in 1982!

Cheezies Artisan Grilled Cheese

Cheezies has been in business for 3 years. During its time of operation, Robert has ensured the utmost quality for his products. Cheezies only uses locally sold ingredients and artisan baked bread. Robert does this in an effort to support local businesses and ensure quality. Furthermore, Robert personally smokes all of his meat in-house (Brisket, Chicken, Pork Shoulder). Each ingredient in the gourmet grilled cheeses is made from scratch. According to Robert, the quality of his product is the driving factor that keeps him in business. Also, his family’s hard work and dedication to the business. Amy, Roberts wife is in charge of the business side of the restaurant. And Roberts two sons assist in the back of the house when not attending school.

Cheezies Artisan Salad

This is truly a family owned and operated establishment, a mom and pop shop with a Cheezie twist! Don’t hesitate, stop by Cheezies in Frisco and dine on a delicious gourmet grilled cheese.

Cheezies Artisan Salad



On Tap Oil

Oil & Vinegar – Private Label Products

On Tap Oil & Vinegar Imported From Europe!

Oil & Vinegar is a specialty retailer focusing on private label products with the highest quality. Furthermore the products are made with quality ingredients and hand picked by its purchasing team in Europe. This unique business plan makes it easy to establish long-lasting relationships with each vendor. The focal point of the business is its selection of “on tap”oils and vinegars. This unique feature encourages customers to taste the product before ever making a purchase.Oil & Vinegar taste test

With the helpful staff  placed to answer any question you may have, along with the welcoming atmosphere of the shop, Oil & Vinegar will have you craving another visit. The personal attention payed to each of the guests in the shop plays a  vital role in creating a memorable customer experience. The shop aims at compelling their guests to visit again and share their unique experience with friends.Oil & Vinegar Stock

Oil & Vinegar holds over 400 products mostly originating from the Mediterranean. These products include herb mixes, dressings, olives, sundried tomatoes, mustards, sauces, pestos, and pastas. You will also find an array of kitchen equipment and cookbooks that highlight the food culture on display.

Oil & Vinegar Wine

In 2012, Oil & Vinegar introduced a new interior design to the US market. The use of natural materials imported from Europe and arranging products and sampling points lead to an even bigger attraction. Each store will be designed with this new concept. We invite you to visit a new generation and experience it for yourself!

The Wooden Spoon

The Wooden Spoon – Scandinavian Gifts & Food

The Wooden Spoon – Your Scandinavian Connection!

How did the Wooden Spoon get it’s name you ask? Well according to Gwen Workman Owner/Operator of the Wooden Spoon; “Scandinavian families had just enough utensils for their own use. When they went to feasts, events, celebrations, or were invited to another home, they took their own spoon with them. Usually, it was made of wood. Attached to the waist of the Lady’s dress was a “spoon bag”. This is where the Wooden Spoon was carried.” -Gwen

Gwen moved to the states in 1985 where she was troubled by the absence of any Scandinavian culture or products. She soon got a job as a leasing agent for an apartment complex, and began to see the quantity of foreigners moving to the states. That fall she attended the State Fair where she met and connected with the Norwegian Society of Texas. Realizing that she couldn’t be the only half Norwegian to move to Texas she decided to open her first shop in McKinney September of 1988. In 1989 she moved into a 280 SF shop in Plano. In 1992 Gwen decided she had outgrown the shop and decided to purchase the Forman House which is where the Wooden Spoon currently resides. Wooden Spoon Scandinavian House

The Wooden Spoon also doubles as the oldest house in Plano, TX. Over the next ten years Gwen would dedicate a majority of her time to repairing and remodeling the house. The job of maintaining the oldest house in Plano was no easy task for Gwen and is still a constant chore that must be prioritized to keep the house looking beautiful. Entrance Upstairs Scandinavian House

-Current Status

Gwen currently has three groups of customers. Native Scandinavians, people of Scandinavian decent, and people who have no Scandinavian blood but desire to learn about the culture and language. Gwen welcomes all groups of people to her place of business and encourages each individual to dive into the culture. She is currently in her 29th year of business and has made many connections throughout her career. These connections help to bring in customers and build relationships for repeat customers.

inside Scandinavian Shop

Furthermore Gwen is constantly on the quest for new products, she also enjoys holding sales, classes, and events. She likes to work with schools and clubs when they have international day or projects and has a large website with her products listed. “I host an annual Anniversary Party in September and a Stella Olson Cooky Party in December.” – Gwen