Associate Vice President
Urban Agriculture/Windy City Harvest
In more than 12 years with the Chicago Botanic Garden, Angela Mason has grown the urban farming/Windy City Harvest program from one site to 13 throughout Cook and Lake Counties. She has managed Windy City Harvest from its second year through the development of the certificate program with the City Colleges of Chicago, developed a transitional jobs program and a partnership with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and developed the incubator farm program, supported by the USDA. Mason administers the sustainable urban agriculture training and production programs, manages federal and state funding for these programs, and directs a staff of 15 full-time and 64 seasonal and part-time employees, including interns and justice-involved youth participants. She regularly evaluates and enhances programs, adapts curricula, pursues expanded partnerships, develops job opportunities, investigates new marketing and business opportunities, and works with allies in urban agriculture to address food security issues within Chicago and beyond. Mason is a certified National Foundation for Teaching Young Entrepreneurs instructor and has served as an adjunct faculty member at Harold Washington College. She has been honored as an Environmental Hero by the lieutenant governor of Illinois. Mason serves on the board of OAI, Inc. and was recently appointed by the governor to the Illinois Workforce Investment Board. Mason graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor of science in plant and soil science and a master’s of science in plant, soil, and general agriculture.
Urban Youth Programs Director
Eliza Fournier has served in the Windy City Harvest department for more than 10 years. In that time, she has helped more than 200 communities and schools plan and implement gardens in their neighborhoods, and she now oversees the operations of all four Youth Farm sites. Fournier earned her bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and her master's degree in public affairs from Indiana University, where she concentrated in urban management. Lately, she has been seen presenting a variety of gardening topics during regular appearances on Chicago Tonight.
Director of Operations
Kelly Larsen joined the Windy City Harvest team in 2008. She oversees production and operations at all farms as well as the Windy City Harvest Corps and Incubator program. Before joining the Chicago Botanic Garden, Larsen managed the herb and vegetable departments at Gethsemane Garden Center and worked with the Talking Farm in Evanston. She has a degree in environmental studies from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and is a certified Roots of Success Environmental Literacy instructor as well as a TreeKeeper. Larsen is honored to be a part of creating access to sustainable food-system employment and seeing the amazing work Windy City Harvest graduates continue to do after completing their programs.
Rafael Arredondo completed the Apprenticeship program in 2010; previously, he had worked in the steel industry. Arredondo officially joined the team as a staff member in 2011 to install the Kraft Corporate Campus garden which he coordinated for 3 years and then went on to run the Rodeo Farm for 2 years. Currently, he can be found checking in on production at any of the 13 farm sites, turning compost, and whistling at early hours in the greenhouse to classic rock. He also runs his own business called Frances' Edible Landscaping.
Washington Park Youth Farm
Lily Baker joined Windy Harvest in 2014. She has experience working on urban and rural farms, including a goat dairy, a winery, and multiple certified organic vegetable farms. She is a certified Roots of Success Environmental Literacy instructor, has completed the Advancing Youth Development certification, and is working on becoming a Treekeeper with Openlands. Baker has a bachelor’s degree in international studies from the University of Chicago, where she wrote an undergraduate thesis on food sovereignty. She is thrilled to be back on the South Side, digging in the dirt, and getting students excited about growing and eating veggies.
Lake County Youth Farm
Audrey Brinkers first started growing food in her hometown of Indianapolis, where she planted a garden in the bed of her pickup truck in a naïve and hopeful attempt to fix global hunger. Still relatively naïve and hopeful, she now has a bit more experience, going on to work with various urban farms, food sovereignty organizations, and environmental education groups. Brinkers joined the Windy City Harvest team in 2014 as a summer intern and now works as the coordinator for the Lake County Youth Farm. She graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in biology; she loves amateur bird watching, munching on fresh veggies, and playing 16-inch softball with her students.
Rodeo Farm Crew Leader
Windy City Harvest Corps
Latrice Brock is the Windy City Harvest Corps Rodeo Farm crew leader. A newcomer to urban farming, Brock has worked for Eventbrite, where she oversaw a crew of 15-plus individuals working to return party spaces back to their original state. While working with Harvest Corps, Brock has focused on keeping the site beautiful and organized, and working with the crew to keep the site free of weeds and pests. She has also led the crew in making sure that the site is up-to-date with its plantings, in pursuit of reaping a great harvest for Midwest Foods, Local Foods, and Women, Infants, and Children.
PCC Wellness Community Farm Coordinator
Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship
Britt Calendo joined the Chicago Botanic Garden for the 2014 growing season. She started working in Harvest Corp as the compost crew leader. Calendo currently coordinates an 8,000-square-foot community farm in the Austin neighborhood in collaboration with PCC Wellness Family Health Center. PCC Community Farm's goal is to increase access to affordable and naturally grown produce in Austin through a weekly farm stand, health education, and an allotment garden. In her role, she leads her crew in managing, creating, and learning about compost. Before working at Windy City Harvest, Calendo interned with Gateway Greening-City Seeds Urban Farm with their therapeutic horticulture program. Also, she earned her master's degree in social work from St. Louis University in 2014. She is passionate about mixing her background in social work and public health with sustainable urban agriculture.
Laura Erickson joined Windy City Harvest in 2009. She serves as the market coordinator for the program. Erickson oversees the harvest, distribution, sales, markets, and food safety for Windy City Harvest. She also serves as secretary on the board of the Illinois Farmers Market Association and as an appointed member to the Illinois Farmers Market Task Force. Prior to joining the team, she apprenticed on organic farms in California and Georgia. Erickson earned a bachelor's degree in business management from Bradley University.
Windy City Harvest
Kate Gannon joined Windy City Harvest in September 2012 as an intern through Loyola University Chicago's School of Social Work, and she was hired as the program assistant in 2013. Gannon helped Windy City Harvest develop both a resource tool kit for the transitional jobs program and a referral network that Windy City Harvest can use for transitional employees and students. She is a licensed social worker and works with the Corps crews, referring them to community-based services as needed. She works with the Corps and Apprenticeship students during Roots of Success, teaching and leading job-development activities such as resumé and cover-letter writing, and mock interviews.
Chicago Botanic Garden
Lynne Haynor is the instructor for the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship Program. Her experience in sustainable agriculture includes teaching Edible Landscaping and Rooftop Farming with Windy City Harvest, coordinating one of the Chicago Botanic Garden Youth Farm sites, working on various farms, beekeeping, co-managing her own market garden, and working as an organic farm inspector and certification specialist. She has also worked in environmental education and loves to teach. She has a BA from Beloit College and an MS in Agroecology from UW-Madison.
Windy City Harvest Corps
Joan Hopkins was born and raised in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. She is a certified carpenter and worked in carpentry, sales, and housekeeping before working for Windy City Harvest. She enrolled in the pilot Windy City Harvest class, joined the staff as a grower after graduating in 2007, and was promoted to her current position as the Windy City Harvest Corps coordinator; previously, beginning in 2009, she ran the Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center. A certified Roots of Success instructor, Hopkins teaches the environmental literacy curriculum to all Windy City Harvest participants. As coordinator, she leads crew leaders and transitional jobs participants on farm tasks and still leads all Windy City Harvest hoophouse construction projects.
Stacey Kimmons completed the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship program In 2014. While going through the Windy City Harvest Corps Program in 2013, he became interested in agriculture and realized how much it meant to him. Kimmons completed his internship as the grower at the McCormick Place, and worked as the coordinator of the Hilton Chicago Rooftop in 2015. Kimmons is now coordinating the 2-acre Rodeo Farm working with Corps and Apprenticeship students. He is also enrolled in Kennedy King's Washburn Institute culinary program, and also runs his own farm, called Return to Life farming, through the Windy City Harvest incubator program.
Farm Operations Crew Leader
Windy City Harvest Corps
Paul Krysik is a Chicago native. While working on a bachelor's degree in law and environmental studies at Oberlin College, he became involved in local food policy and practice. He began organic farming in Ohio, and then moved onto a two-year fellowship at the Allegheny Mountain Institute. In early 2015, Paul joined the Windy City Harvest team. He is now into his sixth season of agricultural study and practice. As Farm Operations crew leader, he works closely with Windy City Harvest's Corps, teaching and mentoring participants in urban farming methods, job-skills training, personal development, and the Roots of Success curriculum.
Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship
Rosario Maldonado graduated from Windy City Harvest's nine-month Apprenticeship program in the class of 2013. She enjoys scouting for bugs, serving local communities, working outdoors, and practicing the best food safety standards. You can find her in the fields of our sites and at the Pilsen Community Farmers' Market on Sundays.
Windy City Harvest
Andy McGhee had retired before joining Windy City Harvest in late 2011. His professional background includes many years of working in historic and landmark restoration construction management. With a lifelong interest in biology and natural systems, and an interest in alternative repurposing of resources within the modern urban environment, he now focuses on alternative and experimental growing technologies, which may be adapted to future urban agriculture enterprises. He designs, builds, and manages the daily operation of aquaponics systems for the Windy City Harvest program, and teaches classes and regular seminars in the theory, design, and practical management of aquaponics systems. McGhee instructs the Windy City Harvest 14-week Aquaponic Production certificate course offered Saturdays in the Spring and Fall.
Windy City Harvest Entreprenuership & Careers
Micheal Newman-Brooks is the instructor for the 14-week Business and Entrepreneurship for Local Foods course. She completed the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship Program in 2015 because of her passion for environmental and food justice! Her 12+ years experience in non and for profit businesses include Marketing and Advertising, Project Management, Construction Escrow, Investments, Finance and Accounting. She serves as Chief Financial Officer of Canaan Community Redevelopment Corporation in the Englewood Community as well as partnering with several local urban gardens and community organizations. Micheal earned a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing and Accounting from University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne Indiana. Micheal is married to Jonathan and has two daughters.
McCormick Place Rooftop
Fernando Orozco was born and raised in Chicago. He first became interested in urban agriculture while volunteering in the Vocational Rehabilitation Institute Center's garden program through the Windy City Harvest Corps. He later enrolled in the 2013 Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship program. During that time, he interned at chef Rick Bayless's garden and the Big Delicious Planet Catering Company's culinary garden. He later graduated and received a certificate in sustainable urban agriculture as well. Orozco went on to work at Uncommon Ground as an assistant farm director. Orozco coordinated the Windy City Harvest Kraft farm for two years and is currently coordinating the 1-acre McCormick Place Rooftop Farm, growing produce for Savor restaurants. He also maintains three beehives and two vermicompost systems. Orozco is a part of Creciendo Farms through the Windy City Harvest Incubator program.
Incubator Farm Coordinator
Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship
Chris Prochot first cultivated his passion for urban agriculture by transforming his quaint backyard in Chicago's Ukrainian Village into a four-season farm. Looking to pursue a career in the field, he enrolled in the Windy City Harvest class of 2010, interning and apprenticing at the Cook County Boot Camp farm site. The following year, he was hired on full-time as a grower; he became a coordinator in 2013. At the boot camp, Prochot trained 80 inmates a year in sustainable farming practices; the farm provided enough produce to fill 1,200 boxes for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. In 2014, he became coordinator of Windy City Harvest's two-acre incubator farm site in Bronzeville, where he helps facilitate the urban farming business aspirations of Windy City Harvest graduates.
Photo credit: Bob Stefko
North Lawndale Youth Farm
A graduate of the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship program in 2014, Sam Vergara will be working out of the North Lawndale Youth Farm coordinating a ¼-acre farm with up to 20 local youth between the ages of 15 to 18. A Chicago native from the Little Village neighborhood, Vergara looks forward to demonstrating general agricultural practices as well as exposing youth to their literal roots. He previously worked for the Student Conservation Association, managing youth program in the Forest Preserves of Cook County and local projects in Chicago neighborhoods.