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Windy City Harvest: Director of Operations

Company: Windy City Harvest

Hourly Rate: $ Location: Chicago, Illinois


Title: Director of Operations, Windy City Harvest

Exemption Status: Exempt

Department: Community Engagement

Reports to: Vice President, Community Partnerships

Year-round, Full-time 

Supervises: Farm and Facilities Manager; Sales and Aggregation Manager; Small Farm Business Manager; Aquaponic Specialist


Position Overview:

Windy City Harvest, the urban agriculture division of the Chicago Botanic Garden, delivers the transformative benefits of growing, consuming, and sharing food locally. Our primary location is the Farm on Ogden, a community hub and training center in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, with more than ten additional farm sites on the west and south sides of Chicago. Windy City Harvest grows and distributes 100,000 pounds of produce annually and reaches more than 2,000 participants per year with programs focused on urban agriculture training and community food access. Learn more about Windy City Harvest at chicagobotanic.org/urbanagriculture.


The Windy City Harvest Director of Operations oversees the production, sales, and distribution of more than 100,000 pounds of produce grown across all Windy City Harvest sites annually and supports department earned revenue goals. The person in this role drives annual crop planning, site aesthetics, and site enhancements to ensure best practices in production and food safety. They will oversee hub operations at Farm on Ogden, the Farmer Incubator Program, and end-to-end production processes on all Windy City Harvest farm sites.


This director operates as part of the collaborative Windy City Harvest leadership team, offering cross- functional support of workforce development and community food access programs, as well as maintenance of Farm on Ogden campus operations, including market, commercial, and teaching kitchens, custodial, greenhouses, and loading dock area at Farm on Ogden. The Director of Operations has a passion for the Windy City Harvest and the Chicago Botanic Garden mission and programs and can inspire and engage others on the team and in the community.




In this role you will be responsible for the following:


Farm on Ogden and farm facilities oversight:

  • Work with Lawndale Christian Health Center and Chicago Botanic Garden teams to facilitate management of the Farm on Ogden building and grounds.
  • Oversee site development and enhancements across all farm sites including capital projects, repairs, and equipment replacement.
  • Set and enforce departmental protocols around operations, including use of equipment and fleet management.
  • Oversee WCH fleet and equipment, including completion of yearly inventories and regular preventive maintenance.
  • Conduct monthly site evaluations for all WCH farm sites, working collaboratively with other directors and managers to maintain site aesthetics and compliance with food safety regulations (including Good Agricultural Practices certification).
  • Negotiate contracts with vendors to ensure efficient use of resources.
  • Oversee operations of Farm on Ogden Food Hub, including hours of operation, vendor agreements, and schedules.
  • Manage vendor list for department.

Food Production and Sales

  • Oversee the production side of the Windy City Harvest social enterprise, ensuring that Windy City Harvest is modeling best practices in urban agriculture and operating a functioning farm business.
  • Lead and guide the sales and distribution of revenue-producing harvests through distribution channels, including wholesale buyers, Farm on Ogden retail store, and farmers’ markets to drive earned revenue.
  • Cultivate and steward relationships with existing and emerging customers, community partners, and donors.
  • Set department production schedules and sales goals and work with leadership team to track and report progress against goals.
  • Oversee the development and implementation of all Windy City Harvest sites crop plans.
  • Oversee greenhouse production at Farm on Ogden and Arturo Velasquez Institute.
  • Develop and maintain purchasing protocols.

Staff Management and Workforce Development

  • Foster a culture of safety among Windy City Harvest Staff.
  • Provide oversight for budget management across all sites following MBE/WBE guidelines.
  • Oversee weekly Windy City Harvest team meetings and work collaboratively with WCH leadership team to ensure common goals are being met and resources and time are being efficiently allocated.
  • Collaborate with Chicago Botanic Garden teams including Communications, Accounting, Development, and HR staff to deliver against team and department goals.
  • Support consulting contracts and lead work on the operations and production elements of WCH contracts.
  • Promote systems for process improvement using data and change management principles.
  • Support Incubator Farm Business Development, leading relationships with business consultants and advanced land partners.
  • Recruit and support incubators and production assistants, investing in the learning and growth of staff and program participants.
  • Organize staff training for all-department protocols including workplace and food safety, equipment management, and site maintenance.
  • Recruit, hire, and onboard appropriate staff to fill department roles to meet WCH production and workforce development goals.

Communications and Stewardship

  • Serve as a spokesperson for Windy City Harvest and the Chicago Botanic Garden to community residents, project partners, customers, sales representatives, chefs, program participants, team members, donors, and media as needed.
  • Support development and stewardship activities as needed.



Our ideal candidate will have the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree in horticulture or related field (or five years of experience in on-farm management)
  • At least five years of leadership experience
  • Proven production and site development experience
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Outlook, Excel, Teams) and experience with financial management software
  • Excellent organizational skills with meticulous attention to detail
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced work environment
  • Strong staff management skills and experience, especially in staff motivation
  • Demonstrated ability to commit to a collegial work environment including participatory decision-making and support of open feedback
  • Demonstrated experience building and sustaining positive and collaborative partnerships with diverse constituents
  • Prior experience with donor relationships and promoting an organization or program to a diverse audience

Physical Demands: Frequent sitting, standing, walking, bending, listening, speaking, and keyboarding. Use of office equipment including computers, telephones, copiers, scanners, and fax machines. Some requirements for lifting, pushing, or pulling items less than 30 pounds.

Review of applications will begin week of February 5, 2024 and continue until position is filled.

How to Apply

Why Apply?

Come work in a setting that is like no other as you support our mission: We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life. Take the first step toward being one of the employees who make the Garden one of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Apply today. Please note that applicants who do not meet the required qualifications will not be considered.