Who is Urban Farmer?

It all started way back in 1948…

…back when we had an honest-to-goodness working farm on the outskirts of the bustling metropolis of Chicago. As one of the largest specialty vegetable farms in the Midwest, we worked the land, bringing fresh produce to market. And even though we’ve grown out of that first urban farm, we haven’t forgotten what it means to be an Urban Farmer. It means working with honesty, integrity and a dedication to providing the freshest products.

About the Team…


Ryan Sparrow

Ryan Sparrow has been in the food business for more than 30 years and has experience as both an entrepreneurial businessman and a leader for international food companies.

Ryan has managed divisions for Fresh Del Monte, Chiquita Brands International, Ready Pac Foods, Kraft, Quaker Oats, Handi-Pak Foods and UNIVEG. He received his Food Science degree from Purdue University and his MBA from the University of Illinois.


Warren Ouwenga

Prior to Urban Farmer, Warren Ouwenga was the co-founder, owner and financial manager of Heartland Harvest. Previously, Warren worked with Chiquita Brands Intl., as the Director of Facility Operations.

He’s held management and operations positions at a variety of companies, including Del Monte Fresh Produce. Previously, Warren founded Handi-Pak Foods, Inc., growing it into a nationally recognized fresh cut vegetable and fruit processor.

Warren was also the major owner and manager of Ouwenga Veg. & Grain, a 2,000-acre agricultural producer that sold and distributed produce throughout the Midwest and Southeast United States.

He studied agronomy and agriculture economics at the University of Illinois before entering into the agri-business field.


David Foran

Prior to his role as General Manager at Urban Farmer, David held a number of senior positions, including general management, procurement, sales, and supply chain and operational management at a variety of companies in the food industry, such as ADM, Hostess Brands, Kellogg’s, Safeway, Treehouse Foods and Mission Foods, among others.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Business with a minor in Marketing from Western Illinois University; he holds a Master’s in Business Administration (Finance) from Webster University.


Dawn Africano

Previously, Dawn served as Materials Manager at Dole Fresh Vegetable and held the titles of Quality Assurance Manager, Procurement Manager and District Sales Manager at Del Monte Fresh Produce. She also worked in quality assurance and food processing roles at Handi-Pak Foods.


Kellie Beno

Prior to her work at Urban Farmer, Kellie had a variety of roles at TNT Crust, a pizza crust division of Tyson Foods, including more than seven years as National Account Sales Manager and Industrial Sales Manager working on the crust business as a category expert. Previously, her roles included Quality Assurance and Product Development where she had final authority for quality assurance, quality control and food safety for two Green Bay, WI manufacturing facilities and ensured internal and external system and regulatory compliance for all processes and procedures. Previously, she was Regional Food Safety and Quality Assurance Manager for Dean Foods. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s degree in Administrative Science from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.


John M. Keigher

Prior to his role as Director of Administration at Urban Farmer, John was an owner and Director of Systems and Human Resources for Midwest Transit Equipment, Inc.  He retired after 25 years at the company. As part of his duties, he managed information technology functions and designed, developed and implemented the ERP software program the company used to manage its operations.

John earned his Bachelor of Computer Science Degree from Governors State University; he has served on the Computer Advisory Committee for Kankakee Community College, where he has taught computer programming courses.

He served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the United Way of Kankakee & Iroquois County, Harbor House Kankakee County Coalition against Domestic Violence.

John was honored as co-volunteer of the year in 2013 for his work with the United Way of Kankakee & Iroquois County.


John Geocaris

Prior to working at Urban Farmer, John was managing director at New Food Strategies, helping early stage and mid-level food companies develop and execute growth strategies. He has also served as an advisory board member for Home Run Inn Pizza and a board member or the American Frozen Food Institute and the Abraham Lincoln Centre. Most notably, he founded and served as CEO of Little Lady Foods, a frozen food specialty co-packer which he led from a startup to nearly $300M in sales, as well as President of Delphi Industries. He received a Doctor of Law degree from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Colorado College.


Jason Hutchison

Prior to coming to Urban Farmer, Jason was a Quality Supervisor at Little Lady Foods, and served as Quality Assurance Manager at Bay Valley Foods. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from DePauw University in Mathematics and Biology.


Candy Rose

Prior to her work at Urban Farmer, Candy held a variety of roles in specialty foods at Kägi Söhne AG, as well as Saputo Cheese’s Deli and Dairy Divisions, working with a variety of domestic and international cheeses such as Stella, Frigo, Lorraine Swiss, Nikos Feta, Black Creek Cheddar and Port Salut. She also worked as a contracted brand manager and as a sales and brand manager with Glazer’s Union Beverage Company, on a variety of alcoholic beverage brands.

Previously, she managed 14 distributors, as well as all retail grocery and food service channels for the entire Midwest territory as an independent account manager at Volpi Foods. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Eastern New Mexico University.

Reach out to see how we can help you.
Call us at 815-468-7200 to get started.

Where taste comes first.

 1551 N Boudreau Rd,
Manteno, IL 60950


© 2019 UrbanFarmer LLC. All rights reserved.

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