Alex Poltorak

Alex is the Distribution Lead & Operations Lead with The Urban Canopy. Within these roles he's responsible for coordinating transportation logistics, as well as distribution of both local and non-local organic produce to our commercial customers. If you're a restaurant, grocery store or generally interested in sourcing more local and organic products, please get in touch at Alex enjoys rock climbing, basketball, biking and cooking from scratch as much as possible.


Amanda Anderson

Amanda is a Farmers Market Manager but also helps out other branches when needed. When not working with Urban Canopy she works as an Environmental Educator with Spring Valley Nature Center helping young students and families reconnect with nature. She is an avid dumpster diver and loves to reduce food waste by preserving it through cooking, canning, and brewing.


Andrew Meland

Andrew is a Transporter and Food Processor for Urban Canopy and can’t wait to be more involved wherever he is needed. He enjoys listening to NPR on Chicago’s own WBEZ while picking up compost buckets around town. He comes from a musical family and has played trombone and bass for a couple decades. Andrew is passionate about music, cooking, Cubs baseball, Dungeon and Dragons, and getting good, healthy food to the great people of Chicago.

David Durstewitz

David joined the Urban Canopy in 2017 as oFarm Lead after four years at City Farm and some rural organic farming and now serves a guiding function on the Trunk. A type-1 diabetic and DIY music organizer, David is passionate about foraging, fermentation, biking and other ways of keeping ourselves rooted in good food and healthy, resilient community structures. He eats a lot of eggs.


Ellis Hease

Ellie is a Farmers Market Booth Manager with the Urban Canopy. After studying conservation and restoration ecology in University, she fell in love with local food systems while interning on an urban farm. She is interested in exploring how sustainable agriculture can help to restore ecosystems. Ellie is also fascinated by language and has studied Spanish, Italian, and Arabic (and dabbled in Elvish and Klingon). In her spare time, she loves to read, cook, and watch documentaries about outer space. 


Emily Cross

Emily started working at Urban Canopy in 2015 out of a desire to learn more about farming, as a way to honor her grandfather's memory. She quickly became involved with LUCSA and loved connecting with and supporting local farmers. She has worked in every branch except transport. Currently, she leads LUCSA. She is actively involved with El Paseo community garden, loves cooking, biking and dancing. She can be reached at


Joseph Taylor

Joseph is the Farmer's Market Lead and Composter at the Outdoor Farm with the Urban Canopy. He enjoys all things related to food especially trying out new cooking recipes. You can find him by listening for the jubilant laughter at your local Farmer's Market or by emailing


Katie Zietlow

Katie is a student at DePaul University studying Economics, graduating with a Bachelors this summer and a Masters next summer. She is also working on getting her health coach certification through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She loves any and all topics related to the environment, circular economies, sustainability, zero-waste, and holistic health. She spends most of her free time in the kitchen cooking, baking, pickling, brewing, and generally experimenting with food. She also loves any activities that take her outside - hiking, gardening, biking, climbing, kayaking, swimming, etc. - especially if her two dogs can accompany her.


Owen Needham

Owen is a Transporter, Farmers Market Booth Manager, and Outdoor Farm Production Assistant at The Urban Canopy. He also runs a small urban farm called Heyday Urban Farm in South Chicago. When he's not working Owen enjoys reading sad books, sitting on porches, and spending time with his beloved cat Dirtbike.


Raja Baptiste

Raja Baptiste is a holistic health and nutrition student and a Health Educator with a mission to treat the mind, body and soul as one. Raja uses her knowledge and training of holistic health, nutritional education, child nutrition and community health training to help people improve their relationship with food and their bodies. She has more then 4 years of diverse experience working at various Farmers Markets as a food demonstrator as well as volunteering with Experimental Station as a farmers market volunteer. When Raja’s not working she’s loves traveling and exploring the world of veganism and cooking.


Ally Otto

Ally is the Compost Club Lead at The Urban Canopy. She started as a Compost Club driver and immediately fell hard for composting and waste reduction (she now uses bamboo toothbrushes, carries cloth produce bags around on her person, collects mason jars etc.). Apart from work life, she is really into her houseplants, making stuff from scratch, cats, and Ted Talks.


Blue Ocon

Blue is a Transporter at The Urban Canopy. When they're not grooving to disco hits on deliveries  around town or working with the U.C. Crew at the outdoor farm or market, you can find Blue farming on the city's Southside with Nodding Onion Farm (a worker-owned urban farm in the Bronzeville neighborhood that works alongside The Urban Canopy and many Chicago farms to grow & bring sustainable agricultural directly to city residents). On their downtime they enjoy visiting their chickens (Buffy, Willow, Zandy & Cordelia) at their local community garden as well as gardening at home with their two pitbulls (BillyJean & Gimlet). 


Christian Fernandez

Christian is the Indoor Farm Lead, Transporter, and Farmers Market Manager with The Urban Canopy.  You'll always see him with a smile on his face. When at work he enjoys planting wheatgrass and microgreens at the Indoor Farm because it is relaxing and therapeutic. Outside of work he likes spending time with his dog, Gracie, as well as friends and family. He likes to sing and hopes to take vocal lessons sometime soon. He can be reached at

Elgin Griffin

Elgin is a LUCSA crew member and a transporter with The Urban Canopy. Elgin is very reliable when it comes to getting his work done in a timely manner. He tries to find fun in everything, while staying focused on the task at hand. Elgin enjoys working with LUCSA because he gets a chance to connect with different people around the city of Chicago. Outside of work Elgin enjoys spending time with his family and cat, Sparkles. He also enjoys playing football, basketball, cars, and video games.


Erin Campbell

Erin is a Production Assistant with The Urban Canopy. Her passion for sustainable agriculture began immediately after watching "Food, Inc." for a U.S. history course in high school. After getting a degree in Horticulture she moved to Chicago determined to aid the local urban agriculture movement. Previously she worked as Greenhouse Manager for Metropolitan Farms running its aquaponics system. When she is not focused on farming, eating, or making a good cup of coffee she tries her talents at rock climbing, mastering Italian cooking, and longboarding around the city.


Joey Dwyer

Joey is a LUCSA Crew Member and Farmers Market Booth Manager with Urban Canopy. Joey believes strongly in using a nice, firm toothbrush. When not at work, he enjoys taking road trips, traversing the city via bike, observing closely as insects and animals do their thing in nature, and recording music that will likely never see the light of day. He loves getting into mischief with his friends.


Kate Gurke

Kate is the Farmers Market Lead and LUCSA Co-Lead with The Urban Canopy. She wears many hats and you may hear from her if you have questions about farmers markets, CSAs, or jobs at UC. She enjoys riding her bike around the city, making and eating pasta and pies, sitting on porches, and seasons 1-8 of The Simpsons.


Kevin Spicer

Kevin is the Outdoor Farm Co-Lead with The Urban Canopy. He has experience working at farms, farm-like schools, and farm-like camps, in rural North Carolina, Illinois and Vermont. He's grown vegetables, milked cows, taught pre-algebra, tapped maple trees and wrestled Christmas trees. He likes reading, running, cooking, and slow aimless walks through the neighborhood.


Rose Silverman

Rose is thrilled to be taking her love for building sustainable communities to the roles of a LUCSA Crew Member and Farmers Market Booth Manager. She joins Urban Canopy after moving to Chicago from Massachusetts and spent her first year in the city working as a second grade assistant teacher and as an Avodah Justice Fellow. Rose is at her happiest in the sun or by the lake, brainstorming visions of gardening with kids, and making playlists to enjoy with others!


Tom Straus

Tom is currently an administrator for the Compost Club, ensuring that our farm has plenty of healthy soil for the food we grow! Tom also holds a position with the auxiliary board at Plant Chicago, leading the Education Committee’s efforts to update and promote the classes taught there, as well as an Alumni Board position with Food Recovery Network. When he’s not fighting food wastes Tom enjoys gardening, cooking, and recently built an aquaponic system in his home. He can be reached at