AT OUR LA CROSSE HOME, we focus on creating an organic edible landscape and demonstrating how to successfully grow your own food in an urban environment. Each part of the yard has been planted in order to maximize the yield for our family’s food and also create an aesthetically pleasing landscape. We have raised beds, with some utilizing the square foot gardening technique for having compatible plants, an herb garden, raspberries, a larger vegetable garden out back, a natural prairie, hops, asparagus, fruit trees (apples, plum and cherry), mushroom logs, chickens, a lettuce garden, and interwoven gardens for planting remaining favorites such as tomatoes and basil. We employ permaculture techniques as well, where the plants require less maintenance and we can grow multiple seasons of plants in one gardening area. We also try to minimize water usage by using rain barrels and soaker hoses underground to reduce evaporation.
  A PROGRAM OF THE HUNGER TASK FORCE OF LA CROSSE, The Kane Street Community Garden has operated since the summer of 1998. For nearly 20 years, the program has offered fresh nutritious produce to the community without charge. From 5000 pounds grown and given away in that first year to over 34,000 pounds in the last two years, the garden has given the community increased access to some great, healthy food! This garden which spans two city blocks on La Crosse’s north side, is indeed a community project, from the land provided by the city to the over 2500 volunteers every season.Our two Master Gardeners provide gardening instruction and regular activities to families and individuals who would like fresh air, fresh produce, and a fresh look at how our community “grows”!
  WISCORPS DEOMONSTRATION GARDEN is designed to show the public different types of gardening they can do at home. The 50 foot by 100 foot fenced in garden area contains raised beds, seven square foot gardens with different blends of soil in each (to demonstrate how the type of soil impacts plant growth), an herb garden and traditional gardens. On the outside, it is landscaped with edible plants, a rain garden, a colorful pollinator garden, and flanked by the natural beauty of the marsh. This year WisCorps partnered with Mayo Clinic Health System to place 200 square-foot gardens in the community, giving others a convenient opportunity to try this simple gardening technique for themselves.
  HOW MANY OF US HAVE THOUGHT, “I would like to garden and have fresh vegetables” but are worried about the time it will take, the vacations we want to go on or the space we lack? Welcome to The People’s Garden. Birthed from the experience on how those outside factors can hamper a great summer gardening venture, we joined like-minded busy and “fun” people to share the work and joys of a Wisconsin garden. Housed at the Lenard’s backyard at 1925 Main Street, we share in the choice of what we grow, the weeding, watering, planting and most importantly the bounty! We have many perennials on the property such as raspberries, apples, cherries, asparagus, strawberries and of course rhubarb. One of our specialties is garlic. Canning salsa at summer’s end is a harvest tradition. All of us like to experiment and joining forces has added greatly to our brain pool for ideas and expertise. We have traditional, container, vertical, and lasagna gardens and grow many of our herbs in layers of suspended tubes. In this regard, the sky is literally the limit.

(Pictured: Richard and Dorothy Lenard, Jeff and Kris Sexton, Steve and Chris Molstad, Drake Hokanson and Carol Kratz)

  THE COMMUNITY FOOD FOREST at the Y is an ecologically beneficial, community-supported garden that is intended to educate and inspire community members to create their own food forest. This food forest contains more than 75 species of plants with a focus on perennial food crops, native plants that attract beneficial insects, plants that build healthy soil, reclaimed reused and local materials, and a rainwater harvesting system that holds almost all of the rainwater on site for the plants. With hundreds of people that have helped and been involved in the project, we like to say that in the Community Food Forest at the Y, we are not only growing food, we are growing community!
  HOOP HOUSE: Purchased by Mayo Clinic Health System in 2012, and collaboratively installed with Hillview members, the hoop house is utilized by Hillview for their growing mission, demonstrating a 3 1/2 season food production model for the community. Hillview provides regular volunteer opportunities and educational demos for a range of community members, including students of all ages. The resulting delicious organic produce is donated to those in need. Stop in to see an interesting variety of techniques: straw bale gardening, raised beds with low tunnel framing, pallet gardening, container planting, and seed saving.

VERMICOMPOSTING CENTER: In December 2010, as the result of a grant received from UW-La Crosse, Hillview and UW-La Crosse signed an agreement on a joint vermicompost project. The vermicomposter, one of the largest in the Midwest, found a new home in one of Mayo Clinic Health System’s climate controlled garages in 2015. Currently UW-La Crosse students bring food waste from their cafeteria and from Mayo’s, to be consumed by composting worms and turned into a high nutrient fertilizer, worm castings (aka worm poo). VermiGoldTM is donated to local community gardens and sold to gardeners through People’s Food Co-op, Ace of La Crosse, Full Circle Supply, at Friday night’s Cameron Park Farmers Market, and at Hillview’s greenhouse bay. Since 2012, the unit has taken over 40,000 pounds of food waste and turned it into 10,000 pounds of sustainable fertilizer. Don’t miss the opportunity to see this amazing, sustainable process of turning garbage into gold!

  VITERBO UNIVERSITY’S (VU) ENACTUS STUDENT CLUB is in its second season serving kids from the Boys and Girls Club (BGC) by partnering to develop and maintain an organic garden. All produce raised in the garden is given to BGC kids with the intent to encourage healthy eating and increase knowledge of organic food production. The club receives generous donations of time (volunteers) and resources from Mayo Clinic Health System, BGC staff and members, the Washburn Community Garden, Hillview Urban Agriculture Center, La Crosse Dept. of Forestry, FSPA, and Enactus club members and their families (including their cows!). It is truly a community effort. The garden is a place where members of Enactus, BGC kids, and the community come together and plant, nurture, and harvest the bounty from the garden. The garden design has a focus on companion planting, crop rotation, lasagna-style garden beds, as well as making compost which is used as a natural fertilizer. This summer the BGC kids and Enactus members will be conducting an experiment, in partnership with Hillview Urban Agriculture Center, testing different types of compost on their cherry tomato crop. Also new this season are perennial fruits! Enactus received a Franke Foundation Grant that enabled them to plant raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and grapes. “We are looking forward to the sweetness and smiles the fruit will bring to those this garden serves,” says Jessie Knapp, VP of Enactus Club.
  THE WASHBURN GARDEN is managed by the Neighborhood Association, in partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System. Our goal is to provide our neighbors a way to grow and provide healthy, fresh food for themselves, and share their harvest with the community. Our first year had 15 gardens. By 2017 we have grown to 57. Tools, water, dirt, mulch, hay, straw and seeds are provided, giving gardeners the opportunity to garden in the style that fits them best.Strolling through the gardens, you will find vegetables, flowers, raised beds, trellis gardens, lasagna gardens and traditional rows, each providing a variety of produce. Gardeners rent plots for the summer, with all proceeds donated to St. Clare Health Mission, and each gardener agrees to donate a minimum of 10% of their produce to a local food bank or other organization in need. In the last few years we have added a rain/butterfly garden, and benches for visitors to sit and enjoy watching the variety of birds, bees and butterflies, or visit with gardeners who have come to tend their areas. In 2017, with a grant from Organic Valley, we are in the planning stages to add a tasting garden, where visitors can wander through and sample vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers.
  WE MOVED TO OUR LA CROSSE HOME on the Mississippi River about six years ago. While the view was just as majestic then as it is now, our yard space consisted of little more than a few ornamental shrubs, a whole lot of lawn, and poor soil. Over the years, we have slowly transitioned the space into a productive, eco-functional landscape. There are literally hundreds of different plant species in the gardens, many of which serve as nectar sources or host plants for a variety of beneficial insects, birds, and other creatures. We also have fruit trees and shrubs, native, edible and medicinal plants of all kinds, raised garden beds for both annual and perennial foods, play spaces for kids, a composting area, water harvesting berms and swales, rain barrels, and hardscape spaces made of re-purposed, leftover, and found materials. Permaculture and ecological gardening principles, fundamental techniques of landscape design, and lots of experimentation have been the guiding forces in the creation of our garden spaces. Our children, now aged 5 and 7, also influence our landscaping choices. Jayda (5) needs her blueberries and strawberries, and Julia (7) needs her raspberries and carrots. Both could eat kale chips every day. Because of the location along the river and the planting choices we have made, our yard is literally teeming with life—bees, turtles, hummingbirds, butterflies, bats, owls, etc.—almost all year long. We are truly delighted to be a part of the tour again this year.
  SINCE 2011 we have worked to bring the look and feel of the countryside into our small city lot in a way that provides food, attracts birds and butterflies, and provides some spaces for outdoor relaxation. We have added several raised beds, cold frames, and trellises, much of which were made from a demolished fence. However the focal point of the yard is the flower garden surrounding fruit trees, grape vines, and a small fish pond. A system of rain barrels routes into a drip irrigation system to help reduce water usage. Although we have used many different systems of gardening, mulching and composting have been our mainstay.

(enter garden on Johnson St. between 7th & 8th)

  THE GROW LA CROSSE (GROW) HAMILTON/SOTA SCHOOL GARDEN was created in 2013 in a collaborative effort by GROW, parents, teachers, administration, and community volunteers. GROW, a local non-profit, continues to develop and maintain the garden while also providing quality programming for 300 students at the school. The garden is a hands-on, outdoor education and growing space which is utilized for taste test and curriculum-connected lessons at least 51 times in the spring and another 51 in the fall. Also, the garden is accessible to students several days a week during recess and during after-school programs where students can investigate, taste, help with maintenance, build community and just breathe. The garden, with both raised beds and vertical garden boxes, features a wide range of organic gardening techniques and provides experiential learning opportunities for children. “Vegetables and fruits are planted in the school garden by students and are harvested and utilized in the cafeteria or in garden taste test lessons and snacks,” says Kari Bersagel Braley, Program Director for GROW La Crosse. “We provide students with authentic learning experiences as they are involved with every step from seed to table: examining, touching, smelling, tasting and growing. Not only do these experiences connect them to healthy food and nature, but also helps improve their attitudes towards trying new foods.” GROW also has school gardens at State Road and Harry Spence elementary schools in La Crosse and farm programming at Deep Roots Community Farm. The Hamilton/SOTA I school garden program is supported by Mayo Clinic Health System, SOTA Steering Committee, Hamilton PTO, the La Crosse School District Nutrition Department, Gundersen Health System and many donors and hardworking volunteers.
  OUR GARDEN MOTTO IS “Growing More by Working Less.” The FSPA organic garden is a model of raised beds, companion planting, organic soil improvement inoculants, double cropping and compost tea vegetable production. The acre garden annually produces 4-5 tons of produce. This garden is complemented with a small windbreak orchard and net zero water and energy Jacoba’s greenhouse. We will tour the garden, orchard and greenhouse based on the interest of those who come to the 10-to-noon tour time. Tours are offered to groups at other times by contacting Sister Lucy at: or, 608.797.5269.