Windy City Harvest Staff
Associate Vice President, Community Engagement, and Senior Director, 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 of science in plant, soil, and general agriculture.
Urban Youth Programs Director
Eliza Fournier has served the Chicago Botanic Garden in the Windy City Harvest department for more than 15 years. Every year, she helps more than 500 people connect with plants through the food they eat. As program director, she oversees the Apprenticeship Program, the Youth Farm, and Veggie Rx, along with representing the Chicago Botanic Garden in local and national efforts to promote urban agriculture. 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. She also connects people with plants during regular appearances on Chicago Tonight.
Director of Operations
Kelly Larsen joined the Windy City Harvest team in 2008 as a Windy City Harvest Corps crew leader. She currently oversees eight acres of production and operations at 12 farm sites, as well as the Windy City Harvest Corps transitional jobs and Farmer Incubator programs. She has a degree in environmental studies from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and is a certified Roots of Success Environmental Literacy instructor and TreeKeeper. Larsen is a produce safety alliance and GAPS-certified grower, and ServSafe manager. She is a member of the Chicago Jobs Council, National Incubator Farmer Training Initiative, and National Food Hub Network. Previously, Larsen worked with The Talking Farm and Gethsemane Garden Center. 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 three years. He then went on to run the Rodeo Farm for two 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.
Melanie Bromberek is a graduate of the 2015 Apprenticeship and has been working alongside Windy City Harvest ever since. As a sales assistant, she handles accounting and reporting for the department, harvests at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, and manages the Hilton Rooftop Farm. Before joining the Windy City Harvest staff in 2017, she was an incubator farmer and owner of Petrichor Culinary Garden. She has certificates in Season Extension, Business & Entrepreneurship for Local Foods, and Value Added Products from Windy City Harvest, and a degree in secondary education from DePaul University. She is also a Produce Safety Alliance Certified Grower, a University of Illinois Extension GAP Certified Grower, and is a Quickbooks Online Certified ProAdvisor.
Veggie Rx Coordinator
Britt Calendo is the Veggie Rx coordinator for Windy City Harvest. Veggie Rx is Windy City Harvest's prescription produce program. In this role, she helps to organize and run Veggie Rx distributions with Lawndale Christian Health Center, Loyola University Health System, and PCC Community Wellness.
Calendo joined the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2014, working at Rodeo Farm as a Harvest Corps crew leader. From 2014 – 18, Calendo worked as the PCC Austin Farm coordinator, where she helped to build out and run a farm in collaboration with PCC Community Wellness. PCC Austin 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. Calendo has a master’s degree in social work and is excited about mixing her background in social work and public health with sustainable urban agriculture.
Rodeo Farm Coordinator
Natasha Coleman graduated from the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship and work study in 2017 after completing four years in the Youth Farm program. She holds certifications in edible landscaping, ServSafe, and sustainable agriculture. She coordinates the Windy City Harvest Rodeo farm with one acre of composting and one acre of vegetable production to meet a sales goal of $75,000 with the help of five beehives, while overseeing a work-study crew of five to eight individuals completing the Apprenticeship after graduating from Youth Farm or Corps. She is also a proud owner of a small baking business called Dimples Sweet Tooth. In her spare time, she loves to build models and train in kickboxing.
PCC Austin and Kenneth Farm Grower
Dantrell Dehart grew up in the North Lawndale community and has worked in urban agriculture for more than five years, including work with Gotham Greens, Herban Produce, and Urban Growers Collective. He is a 2016 graduate of the Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship program and currently is the grower for the PCC Austin and Kenneth Farms. He is passing along his growing talents to his daughter, who comes with him to farm at least once a week.
Kris De la Torre
Urban Garden Lab & Education Coordinator, Windy City Harvest
Kris De la Torre started with Windy City Harvest in 2016 as an apprentice in their nine-month Urban Agriculture Certificate program. One year later, she joined the Windy City Harvest staff as the Urban Garden Lab and Sustainable Urban Agriculture Short Courses coordinator. Kris brings experience in nonprofit communications, advocacy in food equity, youth education, and sustainable farming to her role with WCH. She feels passionately about helping others make connections between their food, the environment, our local communities, and individual wellness. She has degrees in art history and Spanish from Lake Forest College and a certificate from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City for culinary nutrition as well as certificates from Windy City Harvest programs in sustainable urban agriculture and entrepreneurship for food business.
Food Hub Assistant
Reynaldo Engram is a lifelong Lawndale resident who is passionate about raising self-awareness. He enjoys meeting new people and mentoring in the neighborhood. He is a Windy City Harvest 2016 Corps and 2017 Apprenticeship graduate, and certified in sustainable agriculture. He loves to help others, grow food, and represent Windy City Harvest. Engram is certified in Good Agricultural Practices (Illinois Extension), ServSafe handling, and CPR. He was previously the Hilton Grower, managing a rooftop farm for farm-to-table niche vegetable and edible flower production. He currently oversees the day-to-day operations for the Farm on Ogden retail space, greenhouse, living wall, aquaponics production, and building maintenance, ensuring that everything is running smoothly.
Windy City Harvest Program Support
Kate Gannon joined Windy City Harvest in September 2012 as a candidate for a master’s degree in social work from Loyola University, Chicago. Kate is a licensed social worker and certified Roots of Success instructor. During her time at Windy City Harvest, she has worked across many of our educational programs. In her current role as Youth Farm manager, Kate supports our staff and student-farmers in Waukegan, North Lawndale, Washington Park, and downtown Chicago.
Lake County Youth Farm Coordinator
Marina Garcia has been with the Chicago Botanic Garden since 2012, wearing different hats throughout her tenure. Marina started in Windy City Harvest as a student at the Green Youth Farm in Lake County. There she was a crew member for two years, and a crew leader for two years. She earned her associate’s degree in sustainable agriculture at the College of Lake County. Marina has worked with Science First in Lake County and at the Green Youth Farm in Lake County as an intern. She coordinated the Junior Green Youth Farm at the Roberti Community House, worked in grounds and horticulture at the Chicago Botanic Garden, and is now serving as the coordinator of the Green Youth Farm in Lake County. She is ecstatic to teach youth, and has a special place in her heart for the program that changed her life completely. She spends time reading up on food systems, has become a bird-watcher, loves to write poetry about nature, and loves kayaking.
Washington Park Youth Farm Coordinator
Rachel Kimpton, the Washington Park Youth Farm coordinator, has one foot firmly planted in outdoor education and the other in museums. Before joining Windy City Harvest in 2017, she worked as an educator with science organizations and museums. She received her master's degree in art education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016, focusing her research on the dynamic intersection of science, art, and education present within gardens. When she's not working with youth and farming, she loves to cook for her friends, go on bike-ventures through the city, play boardgames, and develop public programs through her side project—Museum Game Night.
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 on to a two-year fellowship at the Allegheny Mountain Institute. In early 2015, Paul joined the Windy City Harvest team as a Harvest Corps crew leader for two years. Then he coordinated and managed the Legends South Beginning Farmer Incubator Farm and Program. Now in his ninth season of agricultural study and practice, he instructs the Apprenticeship Program, a nine-month college accredited course for aspiring beginning farmers and local food advocates. Paul is certified as a Roots of Success instructor, G.A.P. Handler, FSMA-compliant, ServSafe Food Handler, in O.S.H.A Fall Protection, and in Windy City Harvest’s aquaponics. He also is co-chair of the associate board for the Chicago-based organization Advocates for Urban Agriculture.
Sales Supervisor, Windy City Harvest
Rosario Maldonado coordinates produce sales and aggregation of harvests for all of the Windy City Harvest farm sites. She oversees quality control, efficiency of deliveries, and food-safety training. She feels the most passionate about produce distribution through our Veggie Rx program and participating in the food as medicine movement. Maldonado has an amazing sales team that manages the retail space and internal accounting for Windy City Harvest. She holds a certificate in sustainable agriculture and is a Produce Safety Alliance Certified Grower, 2016 Incubator Program graduate, and ServSafe manager. She serves on the Economic Committee of the North Lawndale Community Coordinating Council and the Advocates for Urban Agriculture Good Practices for Growing in Chicago peer group.
Aquaponic Specialist, Windy City Harvest
Andy McGhee had retired before joining Windy City Harvest as a volunteer in late 2011. With a lifelong interest in biology and natural systems, and an interest in alternative uses of resources within the modern urban environment, he now focuses on alternative and experimental growing technologies that may be adapted to future urban agriculture enterprises. He designs and builds aquaponics systems for the Windy City Harvest program, and manages the daily operation of the program’s aquaponics system. McGhee teaches one-day seminars in the theory, design, and practical management of aquaponics systems as well as instructing the Windy City Harvest industry-specific certificate course in Aquaponic Production, with sessions offered in spring and fall.
Lawrence Riley is passionate about community-based local food system growth in Chicago. He graduated from the Windy City Harvest Corps program in 2017. He stayed on the team to graduate from the Apprenticeship program in sustainable agriculture in 2018. He also holds certifications in season extension, CPR First Aid, ServSafe handling, and is a Produce Safety Alliance certified grower. Riley coordinates our two-and-a-half-acre Legends South incubator farm and allotment garden program in Bronzeville. He works one-on-one with four incubator farm business owners, transitional job crew members, and apprentices on the farm, growing on a ¼-acre for wholesale and community markets. Outside of this role, he is the farm operations manager with Just Roots, a nonprofit CSA and food depository farm in Englewood. He also serves as a council member for IMAN Community Health Center in Englewood.
Carmella holds a certificate from the Chicago Botanic Garden in sustainable agriculture, class of 2011, and good agricultural practices from Illinois Extension. She currently oversees the retail space at Farm on Ogden. Carmella is the produce guru, slinging vegetables from Windy City Harvest sites and ordering from local wholesale accounts. Carmella loves interacting with community residents and has regular customers who help drive the selections offered in the retail space. Carmella is a member of the Illinois Farmers Market association and trains participants in market and retail setup.
Robin Whaley Smith
With more than 15 years’ experience in building relationships and managing accounts, Robin Whaley Smith serves as the Windy City Harvest Corps manager. Her experience ranges from advertising and marketing to education and the transitional jobs-training programs. Before joining the team, she worked for Johnson Publishing Company as its Central/West Coast sales manager; and as a workforce development officer at Baltimore City Community College and Arbor Education & Training LLC job programs. She leverages partnerships and collaborates with industry partners. As a member of the Chicago Job Council and NLCCC Workforce Development Council; she is eager to share her talents and resources and is most fulfilled when working with and helping others in need. She earned a bachelor's of science degree in public affairs management with a dual major in communications from Michigan State University. She enjoys cooking, gardening, spending quality time with her family and friends, traveling, attending sporting events, and being an active parent at her kid’s school.
North Lawndale Youth Farm, Coordinator
Sam Vergara has been involved with Windy City Harvest since graduating from the apprenticeship program in 2014. Before then, he was setting up teen conservation programs for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Vergara has been working at the North Lawndale Youth Farm, coordinating the ¼-acre farm with up to 20 local youth between the ages of 15 to 18, while raising awareness in the community about the Farm on Ogden. A Chicago native from the Little Village neighborhood, Sam looks forward to demonstrating general agricultural practices as well as exposing youth to their literal roots. He also represents the Midwest as a volunteer with Rooted in Community’s Core Committee. You can find him on the farm or in the woods looking for bugs and playing with his vintage Transformer action figures.