Willie and Katie Bittner of Great Lakes Sustainability met at the MN Conservation Corps and bonded around the garden outside the dining hall. This connection launched them into their passion of urban agriculture and sustainability. After that summer Willie traveled the country growing vegetables out of 5 gallon buckets while building trails around the country, both Katie and Willie had the ultimate goal of starting a homestead.
After many conversations and visits to plots of land, they felt they could make a bigger impact by figuring out how to grow food in an urban center on a small city lot while sharing that knowledge of their successes and failures along the way. So in 2011 they purchased a 100 year old house on the north side of La Crosse with ZERO trees, no gardens, a perfect south facing roof and a blank canvass to create an urban homestead. They spent the first winter planning how they wanted the landscape to look and the first spring they focused on fruit trees, fruit bushes and vines. They also created their first garden where they experimented with many types of plants.
During our September 3rd Sustainability Chats, Katie and Willie showed what they have been able to create over the past 10 years and shared many of their successes and trials of their journey. They now have come to a point of being able to produce much of their food annually on their northside property while also welcoming two children who are just as excited as they are about growing food. At last count, the Bittner's were growing well over 40 different types of fruits and vegetables on their city lot. You can watch the virtual tour of their property from our recent Sustainability Chats by clicking right HERE.
Check out their amazing yard and gardens located in La Crosse!
In addition to their sustainability company, Katie and Willie own Great Lakes Trailbuilders, where they focus on sustainable trails, co founded WisCorps and focus on sustainability in their everyday lives, including having a green wedding featured at the Living Green Expo in the Twin Cities. They are dedicated to sustainability and education around this important topic. Over the past years they have also hosted many UWL class tours and did garden tours for Hillview.