Welcome to our new blog series where we introduce our team! Each Friday, we will feature one member of our team, explain what their role is here at Rise Gardens, and some fun facts about them.
Angelo Kelvakis | Director of Research and Development
Current City: Jefferson Park neighborhood in Chicago, IL
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
We’re starting our series off with our Director of Research and Development, Angelo Kelvakis. After running Loyola University’s ‘Ecodome,’ a large aquaponics lab, he’s come to Rise Gardens for an even greater challenge: teach our ‘Smart Gardener’ how to run every Indoor Garden we deliver.
When it comes to Angelo, we also use the titles “Master Gardener” and “Plant Scientist” but he has a fancier title that really matches up with the role he plays at RG. He’s the guy who knows just about everything when it comes to your plants. He’s also the scientist behind sourcing our seeds and making sure that our gardeners can successfully grow our plants in their gardens.
Why did you choose to work with Rise Gardens?
I have a background in greenhouse and hydroponic research and found that this position would allow me to continue that line of work. As someone who is interested in food system resilience related to climate change, hydroponic gardening at the home-level provides an interesting look into the future of agriculture.
I have also lived my entire life in an urban environment where food sources were far away. Urban farming/gardening was something that interested me and I see this company playing a role in increasing people's plant literacy. As I work to develop new crops in our system, I see the interest in plant growth and plant science from people who use our system. I am excited to see how we can take this technology into the classroom and use it as a tool to help children understand plant science, food systems, and nutrition.
How has Rise Gardens changed how you are eating?
I have been able to incorporate more exotic herbs and increase my consumption of vegetables.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I like to make enchiladas which go great with fresh cilantro.
Do you have any special secret talents?
Starting in high school, I got into ceramics and learned how to build sculptures.
How do you spend your free time?
I like to play with my lab-mix dog, James. He has been a fantastic therapy during COVID. I also enjoy cooking and trying new recipes including curries, and perfecting my portobello burger recipe.