The Urban Farmer Team
Urban Farmer is a family-owned food company founded in 2014 based on a history of family farming. In fact, their family had the last remaining active farming operation within the city limits of Chicago—a piece of family history that inspired the Urban Farmer name. Its founders Warren Ouwenga and Ryan Sparrow bring decades of food production and business expertise to their company, and they still have family members who are active farmers to this day.
Today Urban Farmer continues to serve the greater Chicago community by doing business with local restaurants, retailers, and manufacturers. The Urban Farmer team provides its customers with better-for-you pizza products that are 100% natural and gluten-free.
Ryan Sparrow has been in the food business for over 25 years and has experience as both an entrepreneurial businessman and a leader for international food companies. Mr. Sparrow has managed and started divisions for Fresh Del Monte, Chiquita, Ready Pac Foods, and UNIVEG. Mr. Sparrow received his Food Science degree from Purdue University and his MBA from the University of Illinois.
Ryan worked in large companies, including Kraft and Quaker Oats before becoming a partner in Handi-Pak Foods, Inc. as the Vice President of Operations. When the company was acquired by Del Monte, he became the Director of Research, in charge of Product Development and Packaging. After working for Del Monte, he became a key contributor for Chiquita Brands International, where he initiated, designed and executed the #1 selling fresh cut fruit item in the U.S. He subsequently has managed several other food processing endeavors, including F&S Produce (General Manager), Ready Pac Foods (Vice President), and UNIVEG(Managing Director, Belgian American Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year). He is excited to be working from the ground floor and developing new ventures at Urban Farmer, LLC.
Ryan is a dedicated member of his church, and community. He and his wife, Michelle, have 4 daughters.
Warren Ouwenga – Founding Partner
Prior to his involvement in Urban Farmer LLC., Warren Ouwenga was the co-founder, owner and Financial Manager of Heartland Harvest, an extrusion company, which was acquired by Bunge earlier this year. Previously, Warren worked with Chiquita Brands Intl., as the Director of Facility Operations. Warren’s role was to assist in the strategy and development of Chiquita’s entry into the Fresh Cut fruit industry through the setup of the facility and production operations.
Warren was the Director of Business Development with Del Monte Fresh Produce. He came to Del Monte with their acquisition of Handi-Pak Foods, Inc., a company Warren and his family founded and grew into a nationally recognized fresh cut vegetable and fruit processor. The acquisition of Handi-Pak launched Del Monte into national prominence with multiple processing plants across the U.S. Warren continued to strategize and develop national processing systems for Del Monte.
Warren has through experience, developed extensive knowledge in all facets of business development and operations including administration, finance, procurement, sales, and logistics. In his earliest business ventures, Warren was 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.
Warren studied agronomy and ag economics at the University of Illinois before entering into the agri-business field. He has served in many community, industry, and church organizations. Warren and his wife, Sharon, have 4 children and 17 granddaughters.
The Urban Farmer Facilities
Our plant and main offices are located at our headquarters in Manteno, Illinois. Our plant has state-of-the-art equipment specially designed to make our gluten-free pizza products, from dough balls to pre-baked crusts to frozen ready-to-eat pizzas. We are a certified gluten-free facility and ensure that our products are safe according to the highest industry standards.
At our headquarters we have a unique and sophisticated Innovation Kitchen—a test kitchen that allows our team to develop new products, create custom products, and constantly make improvements to our existing products. Our Innovation Kitchen is comfortably equipped with ample space and technology to provide every customer—new or existing, large or small—to visit our headquarters and discuss, develop, and test Urban Farmer products together. Our Innovation Kitchen is one way we ensure our customers can be a part of the exciting product innovation process, and it affords our product development specialists the space and materials necessary to create custom formulations according to any customer specifications.
The Urban Farmer Brand & Products
The Urban Farmer brand embodies our family heritage and values. For decades our family has fed the nation by farming, and we are happy to continue that mission with our gluten-free products today—and with the same Midwestern work ethic and integrity that we have applied to our work for generations.
All of Urban Farmer’s gluten-free products are made with simple, natural ingredients. All ingredients are perfectly balanced to make every last bit a perfect bite. All of our products are made according to the following specifications:
- No preservatives or additives
- No colors or flavors
- No refined sugars (HFCS)
- No trans fat
- Kosher certified
Current Pizza Offerings
- Urban Farmer’s Gluten-Free Par-baked Pizza Crust is made our special blend of brown & white rice, tapioca, sorghum and flaxseed, with extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk, egg yolk, honey, and a pinch of sea salt.
- Urban Farmer’s Gluten-Free Five Cheese Pizza is made with our unique par-baked crust topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, romano, parmesan, and asiago cheeses.
- Urban Farmer’s Gluten-Free Margherita Pizza is made with our unique par-baked crust topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, romano, tomato, basil, sea salt, and spices.
- Urban Farmer’s Gluten-Free Basil Pesto Pizza is made with our unique par-baked crust topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, romano, parmesan, and our proprietary basil pesto.
Every pizza is unique—and so is every oven. We recommend cooking your pizza at 350° for approximately 15 minutes, until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown.