Greenhouse Project and Learning Center construction begins at Western

July 23, 2013

From wxow.com: “Demolition underway for Greenhouse Project and Learning Center” — La Crosse -Western Technical College has started demolition on their former residence hall on Vine Street, to make way for their greenhouse system and learning center.

The project on campus will provide space for Hillview Urban Agriculture Center, as well as for the college’s Landscape Horticulture program.

In July 2010, HUAC received a $25,000 grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation to develop a business plan for an urban agriculture center. That plan included: educating the community on growing, preparing and preserving nutritious foods, growing produce, and developing community-wide composting.  However, the weight of the property mortgage, along with the age of facilities, created significant barriers to developing a financially sustainable plan.

Franciscan Healthcare has stepped up to financially assist HUAC with their current mortgage,  teaming up with both Western and HUAC to provide community wellness programs focused on nutrition and physical activity.

“Western, along with the collaborative efforts of Mayo Clinic Health System and Hillview, will promote local food, healthy eating and sustainable practices through the new venture called Sustainability Institute,” said Lee Rasch, President of Western Technical College.  “This is a component of our 10-year master plan, Vision 2020.”

As part of this new collaborative effort, a state-of-the-art, Urban Landscape and Agriculture Center, including an energy-efficient greenhouse will be constructed on Western’s campus at the corner of 7th and Vine Streets, where the former Ivy Motel and previous residence hall are located.  Horticulture, landscape, science, agriculture and culinary programs will all reap the benefits of having the facility on the downtown campus.  In addition, Hillview Urban Agriculture Center will be housed in this greenhouse, providing their mission with greater visibility and accessibility.

All three organizations believe this effort among educators, growers and health care is another step to improve the health and well-being of individuals and the communities they serve.

Demolition will last approximately 2 weeks. Construction will begin in late 2013 or early 2014, with completion in 2014.

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