Linda Belles - Director
Passion to serve others has been part of her life for many years. While in college she restarted a co-ed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, with a diverse group of students and served as a student liaison in area philanthropic organizations. That passion was ignited again after watching two documentaries, “Forks Over Knives” and “A Place at the Table”. Not only did she change the way she ate but become deeply concerned about struggling families. Realizing that her love of gardening and her interest in healthy eating could be put to good use, she sought out local organizations with similar missions. Greentown Grows is where she found that intersection. Occasionally her husband and three grown children help out as well. Her professional experience and degree are in Information Technology with a variety of industries such as banking, manufacturing, direct marketing, and catalog fulfillment. In her spare time she enjoys growing orchids, playing Irish tin whistle, flute, and piano, plus whipping up delicious vegan food in the kitchen, often using an Instant Pot.
Newton and Nada Finn - Founders
Newton, a recently retired attorney and ordained minister, built the large and dynamic TOWN citizens group (Taskforce On Waukegan Neighborhoods) in the mid-1990s to protect Waukegan’s deteriorating neighborhoods from blight and decay. When the city’s neighborhoods stabilized in the mid-2000s, Newton’s wife Nada, a retired pharmaceutical research coordinator, took the lead in transitioning TOWN into GreenTOWN, with a new focus on improving the Waukegan community through community gardening and urban agriculture. These days, the retired couple continues to pour their energy into fulfilling the mission of the Greentown Waukegan: growing healthy food for hungry families. Both Newton and Nada share the spiritual connection with animals, and plants that Albert Schweitzer called reverence for life. They serve as members of the Greentown Board of Directors, and Nada provides further leadership as a Greentown’s financial director. The infectious enthusiasm of this couple for greening our community and our world is an inspiration for all involved in Greentown’s work.
David Toledo - Lead Garden Educator
Davíd Toledo was born in Humboldt Park, raised in Waukegan, an alumni of Highland Park High School, and currently resides in Chicago. He has an A.A. from College of Lake County, a B.A. in Sustainable Community Development with minors in Sociology & Social Justice from Northland College in Ashland, WI, and in October 2019 he founded Contemporary Farmer, Inc driven by sustainability and social responsibility through the production of local food & education. He tried moving out of the midwest to San Francisco, but the prairies, Lake Michigan, and our seasons called him back. He loves to ride his lime green vintage Schwinn bike, eat vegan tacos, and get other people to engage in local food!
Sandy Sherwood - Garden Educator
Sandy is a long-time resident of the Waukegan area and an avid gardener. Local residents may know her from her over 30 years working in the children’s department at the Waukegan Public Library. Parents and children alike looked forward to her fun story times. While engaging young patrons in books, she developed a gardening program for children there at the library. (Side note: Greentown Grows installed the library gardens in 2010!) When she isn’t gardening or reading, she loves to collect rolling pins. Greentown Grows is thrilled to have her expertise teaching families how to garden and we look forward to her cat photobombing our Zoom calls.
Nick Boline - Madeleine Fuqua Garden Team
Nick recently relocated to the Chicago area from Virginia with his wife, Nancy, a Chicago native, and their adorable cat, Fredrick. Although new to gardening, his professional experience as a ship driver in the Navy will be useful in managing the garden. Throughout the pandemic, he became interested in sustainable food production and gardening and the possibilities of locally producing healthful to be given for free to the people of Waukegan as a form of mutual aid. He observes that the suburbanization of America and the market forces acting on its food systems result in communities that cannot feed themselves. This leaves them vulnerable to poverty and exploitation, especially during economic downturns. He believes that producing as much of our food as possible is the starting point for rebuilding our community’s power and the social bonds required for human flourishing. To this end, he dedicates his time to tending the Madelaine Fuqua Garden to produce as much food for the community as possible while simultaneously healing the landscape from the scars of suburbanization wherever possible.
Andreas Guerrero - Madeleine Fuqua Garden Team
Andreas grew up gardening with his mother in Santa Cruz, CA, and since then he has taken that seed with him wherever he has gone. In addition to gardening, he is interested in fermentation, biotechnology, and mushroom foraging. As a volunteer with Greentown Grows, he helps with fundraising efforts, managing the Madelaine Fuqua Garden by the BMX track in Waukegan, and come this spring he hopes to help families keep a home garden. He also loves cooking and is excited to help make delicious, healthy items more accessible to the community.
Anais Placido - Graphic Artist
Anais is a transplanted poofy haired Southern California native adapting to the Midwest. She is an aspiring future landscape architect with a passion for environmental design and community activism. She became passionate about tackling food insecurity and promoting healthy eating after realizing that food insecurity is a serious issue in low income communities throughout the country. Outside of work, she likes to explore and visit different urban parks and eat at different restaurants along the way. The best way to get to know a city is to walk through it after all. She is currently learning how to play the ukulele, trying to be more crafty, and trying to teach Pochongis the yorkie poo new tricks.