Chicago Botanic Garden


2011 Windy City Harvest
Student Biographies

Windy City Harvest trains adults in sustainable horticulture and urban agriculture. It is delivered by the Chicago Botanic Garden in partnership with Richard J. Daley College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.

PHOTO: Kaitlin Antishin

Kaitlin is originally from southwestern Michigan. She moved to Chicago in December 2010 after graduating from Wayne State University in Detroit with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Kaitlin’s interest in sustainable agriculture stems from her appreciation for fresh local food. She hopes to see an increase in the accessibility of local food for all people in various settings, but especially for those who live in urban communities.

PHOTO: Carmella Rocha

Before discovering her love for growing food, Carmella studied photography. She was inspired by a neighbor to start a garden in her backyard. Carmella enjoys working outdoors and being able to see where her food was coming from.

PHOTO: Christine Ciarleglio

Christine is from the east coast, raised in the country of Connecticut and the backwoods of Maine. She was one of seven siblings and was home schooled. She has lived in Chicago for six years and works at the Empy Bottle and Bite Café in Ukrainian Village. Christine is interested in sustainable farming, and has always loved gardening, growing food, and living a healthy lifestyle

PHOTO: Darius Jones

Darius Jones, 19, was raised in Chicago. He got into urban agriculture as an inmate at the cook county boot camp, working in one of the Windy City Harvest gardens in 2010. He grew to love gardening because of the beauty of the environment, and growing plants made him feel that he’d accomplished something. At harvest time, supplying the community with fresh produce gave him a beautiful feeling.

PHOTO: David Welch

David Welch, a lifelong Chicago resident from the south side, enjoys jazz, photography, and reading. His interest in sustainable agriculture was sparked by his on-and-off attempts to become a vegetarian. He has always enjoyed farmers’ markets. Growing a garden was the next logical step for him. It was also an attempt to bring quality food to a food desert in the Washington Park area.

PHOTO: Desiree Sanders

Desiree Sanders is a native Chicagoan. Born and raised in the city's South Shore community, she attended Seton Academy High School in South Holland, Illinois, and took courses at Columbia College and Harold Washington College.

In 1990, she founded The Afrocentric Bookstore, Chicago's premiere African-American bookstore and the first Black-owned retail store in the Chicago Loop. Afrocentric Bookstore was featured in Ebony, Essence, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Timeout Chicago, N'Digo, and The Chicago Defender. In 2003, Desiree expanded the business to the Bronzeville community.

She retired from the book business in 2008, and is currently employed by Sanders Landscaping Inc., and enrolled in an intensive nine-month training program for Sustainable Urban Agriculture. She is an active member of St. Dorothy's Parish and the mother of two beautiful girls.

PHOTO: Elsa Meza

Trying to learn organic horticulture, Elsa is attending classes at Windy City Harvest Program. What about a Peruvian, harvesting potatoes that originally come from Peru, in Chicago?

Quotation: "It is said that a city man dreams at 5 p.m., never at 5 a.m., but I do because organic horticulture."

PHOTO: Hageo Delgado

Hageo Delgado enjoys being able to grow food in his own backyard. He is glad to be a grower.

PHOTO: Katie Wiegman

Katie Wiegman is a musician turned farmer. She loves growing food for people in her community and spending time outdoors.

PHOTO: Maximino Gonzalez

Maximino Gonzalez was born and raised in Chicago. He took the Windy City Harvest course to learn to grow his own food. Getting direction, stability, and getting his mind working were added bonuses. Knowing where our food comes from is important, and he is learning skills he will gladly pass down when the time comes.

PHOTO: Sarahy Knapp

Sarahy enjoys watching documentaries about sustainable agriculture, new technologies, and new ideas in general. She also reads about UFOs and conspiracy theory, and spends hours looking at the sky, especially when a storm is close and the cloud formations get really weird. Working with the community is one of her greatest satisfactions. She likes to feel close to nature; working with plants, growing food, and playing with her dog are some things that give her that feeling.

PHOTO: Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly, 29, is from Chicago. He is interested in urban agriculture because it is an emerging field that will be moving into schools, colleges, and abandoned lots. He is also interested in urban agriculture for the ability to grow healthy local food.

PHOTO: Walter Ford

Walter is closely drawn to urban agriculture because this was a field that he knew relatively little about. Seeing heirloom fruits and vegetables is a great privilege. Besides that, he likes to play basketball and talk about good times.

PHOTO: Billy Burdett

Billy Burdett has a long history of working for environmental sustainability and community empowerment though local action and grass-roots organizing. After returning to his home town of Chicago from Portland, OR, where he co-founded the Oregon Wildlife Collective and was an active member of the Peoples Food Co-op, Billy was inspired to bring a little of what he had picked up out west and joined an effort to start the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, which opened under his leadership in 2009 as Chicago's only community-owned grocery store.

Billy decided to expand on his interest in local, sustainable food by signing up for Chicago Botanic Garden's Windy City Harvest sustainable urban agriculture program. He chose the Washington Park/Dyett Green Youth Farm site for his internship to get experience applying his newly acquired agricultural knowledge, to learn more about season extension, and to expand upon his experience working with youth.

Billy hopes to put these experiences toward moving Chicago (and beyond) in the direction of meeting the majority of its food needs through local, year-round, sustainable production.

For additional information contact Angela Mason, director of community gardening,
at , or by calling (847) 835-6970.