Third graders at Northern Hills Elementary in Onalaska harvest spring radishes for the school’s salad bar. Third graders at Northern Hills Elementary in Onalaska harvest spring radishes for the school’s salad bar.

Photo: Jodie Visker


Hillview Urban Agriculture Center along with many other organizations, institutions, businesses and government agencies, is dedicated to transforming the La Crosse area into a vibrant, healthy and sustainable community. We are hopeful that together, along with support from area residents, we can continue our mission to create a healthy community through a local, sustainable and accessible food system.

What will the next 100 years look like? Insights from our contributing sponsors and other community leaders are shared here:


Timothy Johnson, MD
CEO, Mayo Clinic Health System—Franciscan Healthcare

Mayo Clinic Health System–Franciscan Healthcare best serves our community when it can improve the overall health and well-being of the people in our community. There’s no better way to achieve that goal than through collaboration with organizations like Hillview Urban Agriculture Center. Together, we can provide the education, tools and encouragement that foster respect for our own well-being and for the health of our environment.

Lee Rasch, EdD
President, Western Technical College

We are fortunate to live in a region that values collaboration. Developing vibrant local food systems involves more than just promoting efficient and sustainable practices. It involves a commitment to community engagement and collaborative solutions. And that makes them so much more profound. In the future, I believe we will see other community collaborative efforts following the Hillview Urban Agriculture Center model

Cindy A. Mischnick
Reference Librarian, La Crosse Public Library

In 2013, ​as a natural response to several dynamic local food initiatives​ in La Crosse, the Public Library launched Wisconsin’s first seed library. ​Our community strives to be a front runner by raising awareness and developing local healthy food systems​. These are systems that will touch families, businesses and organizations alike and help to make food innovation possible. In 100 years, we hope that every yard in La Crosse will have a family garden, that every day is a local market day, and that every meal displays a multicolored array of these home-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Our community’s commitment is to growth, prosperity and innovation.

Jennifer Shilling
State Senator, 32nd Senate District

Our growing local food system has helped to revive many small communities across western Wisconsin. Over the next 100 years, I see an even greater network between farmers, producers and consumers—both urban and rural—and an economic boom across rural Wisconsin as the knowledge and value of consuming local products grows.

Jill Billings
State Representative, 95th Assembly

During the next 100 years, I anticipate the public will want an even better understanding of where our food comes from, who grows our food, and the importance of eating local. We are lucky to have some of the richest soil in the state and I envision the Coulee Region becoming a leader in promoting sustainable, local, and accessible food systems for everyone.

Tara Johnson
La Crosse County Board Chair

In 2007, the City of La Crosse and La Crosse County became “Eco-municipalities,” adopting the Natural Step framework to develop a community that is ecologically, economically, and socially healthy. In the next 100 years, a sustainable local food system will be an important part of attaining the goals we have set for the greater La Crosse community. A healthy, local and sustainable food system will add to the quality of life for everyone.

Bill Soper
CEO, La Crosse Area YMCA

The La Crosse Area Family YMCA is proud to partner with the Hillview Urban Agriculture Center, as we recognize that we’re most effective in impacting the health and well-being of our community when we collaborate with others. As our Y expands on its longtime commitment to supporting healthy living, we know that by partnering and collaborating, we will most effectively build a healthier future for our community’s children by creating environments rich in opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity.

Michelle Schry
CEO/General Manager, People’s Food Cooperative, Inc., La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN

In 100 years our communities will have recognized that our food is connected to all of the other decisions that we make, locally and globally, about land use, the protection of our water and air, energy resources, nutrition, manufacturing, transportation, and economic justice for producers and eaters. Every choice that we make ripples. In the next 100 years we will break out of the artificial silos that keep us thinking that our decisions are made in a vacuum and are disconnected from the consequences.

Mike Desmond
Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club of Greater La Crosse

The Boys & Girls Club’s collaboration with Hillview Urban Agriculture Center has not only directly impacted not only kids at the Club, but their families as well. Their dedication to healthy eating fits perfectly with our Healthy Lifestyles Program, to the youth we serve healthy eating habits. In the next 100 years I envision many more collaborations with organizations such as Hillview that will benefit the entire community.

Lynnetta P. Kopp
Executive Director, Coulee Region RSVP

The Coulee Region Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is proud to be an integral partner with Hillview Urban Agriculture Center in its endeavors to create a healthy and sustainable food community. The efforts of Hillview Urban Agriculture Center are directly parallel with the mission and services of Coulee Region RSVP—to alleviate food insecurity in our community. Together, Coulee Region RSVP and Hillview Urban Agriculture Center are combining our efforts to eliminate food insecurity and create a healthy environment for all throughout the community.

Shelly Fortner
Executive Director, The Hunger Task Force of La Crosse

We have a unique position in the regional food chain, providing professional distribution services to recycle surplus food.  As a food bank, we see redistribution of surplus food as a crucial sustainability issue.  We must work together locally to ensure that healthy food is not wasted, there is no unnecessary cost in the food chain, and all of our citizens receive the nourishment needed to thrive.

Glen Jenkins
Co-Chair, Coulee Partners for Sustainability

For too long we have relied on chemicals to be the answer to growing our food. Today these chemicals pollute our air, land and water with our focus being on quantity not quality. In the future we will learn to work with the natural systems to produce safe and healthy food for everyone while reducing the negative impacts to our planet.

Jai Johnson*
La Crosse City Council

I grew up hilling potatoes and churning butter and sitting by the wood stove cracking hickory nuts that we gathered in the woods. There was no mystery where food came from. But I worry about the urban youth of today and how removed they are from the foods that sustain them. The urban agriculture movement has the potential to reestablish those critical connections between the natural world and the dinner table. The remarkable success of our local urban farmers gives me great hope and should inspire us all.

In 2007, both the City and County of La Crosse adopted resolutions endorsing The Natural Step and its principles of sustainable development. The resolution was co-authored by Jai Johnson and then City Council Member Dorothy Lenard. For more information on La Crosse, go to Sustainable La Crosse at

Catherine Kolkmeier
Director, La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium

Over the next 100 years, I hope that nutritious, natural, locally-grown food becomes the easiest choice for us to make, at home, at school, at work, and in the community.”

Lewis Kuhlman
City of La Crosse Planning Department

We envision neighborhoods strengthened by community gardens bringing people closer to each other and closer to their source of food.

Susan Oddsen
La Crescent Community Garden Program Manager and the La Crescent-Hokah Elementary School Garden Coordinator

Every town should have a community garden, and gardens at schools as well: by growing food, we learn to appreciate freshness and what’s in season, and it’s been shown that kids are more likely to try something if they helped grow.

Nick Nichols, U.S.M.C.
Sustainability Coordinator, La Crosse County

It would be awesome to have a community kitchen, a place for people to gather, prepare food, and share the bounty of the Coulee Region

Joni M. Ralph, RDN, CD
Supervisor of School Nutrition Programs, School District of La Crosse

Wisconsin is a vibrant, beautiful land with rich agricultural diversity. Over the next hundred years climate change may play a role in the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s food systems. The choices we make in our production system today will have an impact on our resources in the future. I am confident that the work and passion evident from our community members today, will prepare us to generate sustainable systems in the long term.<

Kristina Ralph, M.S. Agroecology
Organic Farmer

In 100 years, I would be thrilled to see a locally supported agricultural landscape, where ‘bigger is better’ isn’t the assumed best answer. A time when farmers no longer need to use government welfare as a crutch to subsist. A place where neighbors help neighbors in the economically, environmentally,  and socially sustainable production of food.

Alysa Remsburg, PhD
Associate Lecturer, Environmental Studies Program and River Studies Center, UW-La Crosse

La Crosse eaters, chefs, and grocery stores will have common awareness of food seasonality and many delicious, dependable sources of local food.

Anne Seehafer
President, Grow Your Brain

In 100 years, children will choose kale, kohlrabi, and carrots over processed chocolate cereal.  Education will make this happen.  In La Crosse’s future, every school will have a garden and every child will get their hands in the dirt for seed to table gardening experiences.

Ana and Andrew Skemp
Deep Roots Community Farm

We envision a garden in every yard, abundant urban chickens and beehives, and community gardens everywhere.  Food deserts will be eliminated.  The bulk of our community’s food could and should be sourced from within 50 miles.  Farmers will play a key collaborative role in not only growing food for our community but also in educating and empowering people to grow their own.

Sr. Lucy Slinger, FSPA, Ph.D
Viterbo University Sustainable Degree Program Coordinator, FSPA Ecological Advocate

I believe it is imperative that future generations understand where food comes from and the work that is involved in keeping soil and human bodies healthy and how to actually grow their own food. This is a direct application of the Franciscan tradition of care for creation and earth stewardship.

Maggie Smith, CHES, CPST
La Crosse County Health Department

School gardens are an important component of a comprehensive farm to school program. Every opportunity for kids to get out into a school garden continues to support the CRF2S vision: Coulee Region Farm2School strives to offer all Coulee Region students access to fresh, locally grown foods and educational experiences that foster understanding of where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their bodies, the environment and their community. Farm2School links lunchrooms, classrooms, farms and gardens to benefit students, schools, local farmers and our community.

Jason Witt, JD, MA
Director, La Crosse County Human Services Department

A robust and healthy food system helps ensure our local food resources are maximized for the benefit of all. Strengthening this system will help ensure that no child, individual or family in the La Crosse area goes hungry. As agencies collaborating to meet the needs of our most vulnerable children and families, we hope that within the next 100 years an effective food system will relegate food insecurity issues as problems of a past era.