It takes a community to grow a healthy local food system. 

In order to successfully address the complex problems of food security and health in our community, it takes the cooperation of the whole community. By coordinating the work of educators, food agencies, healthcare providers and community gardens, Hillview strives to create a healthy community by transforming our food system into one that is sustainable, local and accessible to all.

In the fall 2012, a unique and transformative collaboration began between Mayo Clinic Health System—Franciscan Healthcare, the La Crosse Community Foundation, Western Technical College and Hillview. Because of their support and vision to improve the health and well-being of individuals and the communities they serve, Hillview Urban Agriculture Center will be housed in Western’s state-of-the-art greenhouse starting in the fall 2015. The new greenhouse offers expanded opportunities for Hillview to provide education on growing, preparing and preserving nutritious foods and will be available to schools, organizations and community members, including the specially-abled and senior citizens.

The collaboration enables the construction of three single-family, energy-efficient homes on the old greenhouse property on North 24th Street and demonstrates the positive impact that working together can have on our community.

Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new greenhouse.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new greenhouse.

Other collaborations benefit and complement the community and further Hillview’s mission. An important collaboration is Hillview’s partnership with UW-La Crosse on the vermicompost project. Additional collaborations and support are provided by Boys & Girls Club of Greater La Crosse, Coulee Region RSVP, Great Rivers United Way, the Hunger Task Force, La Crosse Area YMCA, La Crosse Public Library, People’s Food Co-op, Salvation Army, Savory Creations and Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program UW-Extension La Crosse County. We are also pleased to have served as fiscal sponsor to Grow Your Brain until November 2014 when they became their own 501(c)3 with a new name of GROW La Crosse, Inc. and an expanded mission of connecting children to healthy food and nature.

Hillview Urban Agriculture Center would not be possible without their help.

Since 2008, when the La Crosse Community Foundation was approached by several people determined to maintain the historic Hillview Greenhouse in order to give elders and people with disabilities a place to socialize and garden, until today, as we break ground for an urban greenhouse and classrooms, the Foundation has supported this community-based project. The Hillview plan, the mission, and the leadership group have grown and changed in the interim, but the ultimate goal—to have local, healthy produce and bring the community together—has remained a constant. The La Crosse Community Foundation is proud to have been an early funder of this program, and we are excited to see how it has progressed.

Sheila Garrity, Executive Director, LCF