Chicago Botanic Garden

Education

Windy City Harvest Staff

PHOTO: Safia Rashid

Angela Mason
Director, Community Gardening

Angela Mason, the Chicago Botanic Garden's Director of Community Gardening, graduated from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science and an M.S. in Plant, Soil, and General Agriculture. Ms. Mason joined the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2003 as the coordinator of school and community gardening. In her current position, Director of Community Gardening, she oversees the Green Youth Farm, Windy City Harvest, and the Cook County Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center garden programs. The Windy City Harvest certificate program in sustainable hortAngela Masoniculture and urban agriculture is conducted as a joint program with Daley College, a City College of Chicago. Ms. Mason is the project manager for the Chicago Botanic Garden's recent USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program grant, under which she will develop more industry specific certificates in urban agriculture fin collaboration with area educational institutions, including DePaul University.

PHOTO: Yvonne Lopez

Kelly Larsen
Manager, Windy City Harvest

Kelly Larsen, Manager of the Windy City Harvest program, joined the team in 2008. Her role has expanded with Windy City Harvest as it has grown from a single garden into a multi-faceted educational enterprise including a certificate program in Sustainable Urban Agriculture, a transitional jobs training program and a production farm. As manager, she is responsible for overseeing the seven Windy City Harvest agricultural sites throughout Cook County and managing 12 full-time staff members and as many as 40 seasonal workers. Prior to the Chicago Botanic Garden, Kelly worked for six years as the manager of the Herb & Vegetable and Rose Departments at Gethsemane Garden Center and for one season with The Talking Farm in Evanston. She is on the steering committee for the Chicago Advocates for Urban Agriculture. Her degree in Environmental Studies is from Northeastern Illinois University.

PHOTO: Matt Ryan

Joan Hopkins
Coordinator, Vocation Rehabilitation Impact Center Farm
Program, Windy City Harvest

Joan Hopkins was born and raised in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. A Home Builders Institute certified carpenter, she worked in carpentry and building apartment maintenance for six years prior to 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 Garden Coordinator at the Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center in 2009. A certified Roots of Success instructor, Joan teaches the environmental literacy curriculum to all Windy City Harvest participants. As VRIC coordinator, she leads staff, interns and an ever-changing crew of inmates, whom she prepares for future employment through a transitional jobs program.

PHOTO: Charlotte Sullivan

Chris Prochot
Farm Coordinator, Vocation Rehabilitation Impact Center Farm
Program, Windy City Harvest

Chris Prochot manages the production of over 18,000 pounds of produce annually for Women, Infants and Children produce boxes and other market sales. As grower, Chris works with 80-100 inmates per year, instructing them in sustainable farming practices and preparing them for post-release work in Windy City Harvest’s transitional jobs program. Chris enrolled in the Windy City Harvest class of 2010 after experimenting with farming and season extension in his backyard. His internship at VRIC provided the opportunity to mentor inmates while cultivating his passion for farming. Chris earned a degree in sociology from Harold Washington College in 2009.

PHOTO: Erana Jackson

Ben Jaffe
Instructor, Windy City Harvest

Ben Jaffe joined the Windy City Harvest team in May 2012 as instructor for Windy City Harvest’s nine-month certificate program in sustainable urban horticulture. Prior to joining Windy City Harvest, Ben worked with community gardens through the Chicago Park District and at production farms on the East Coast and an agricultural non-profit in Northeast Ohio. Ben’s extensive background in horticulture, agriculture and education prepared him for the challenge of guiding a class of diverse backgrounds and ages into leadership roles in the world of sustainable urban agriculture. Ben has a degree in economics from Earlham College and a professional gardener’s certificate from the Chicago Botanic Garden.

PHOTO: Marisa Munoz

Darius Jones
Market Sales Coordinator, Windy City Harvest

Darius Jones was born and raised in Chicago's East Garfield Park Neighborhood, where he attended Crane Tech High School. He first became interested in urban agriculture while volunteering in the Vocational Rehab Institute Center's garden program. He enrolled in the 2011 Windy City Harvest 9-month class and received his certificate in October of that year. Market sales have increased 100% since Darius started working full time as Market Sales Assistant in January of 2012. As sales coordinator, Darius cultivates relationships with local food purveyors, prepares and delivers produce and heads up farmers' market stands and sales.

PHOTO: Gabriela Naveda

Kate Gannon
Program Support, Windy City Harvest

Kate joined Windy City Harvest in September 2012 as an intern through Loyola University Chicago's School of Social Work. She helped Windy City Harvest develop a Resource Toolkit for the transitional jobs program and worked to develop a referral network that Windy City Harvest can use for transitional employees and students. Kate was hired as program support in February 2013 and will receive her Master of Social Work from Loyola in May 2013.