There is much hunger in the world, and a thought began to grow that we at RCS could make a difference at our corporate office here in Lake Elmo, MN. This passionate gardener knew our employees would be willing to help the community's neediest residents if only they had the means. In this case, that meant a garden. CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY.

For Volunteer Questions, Contact: Kathy Luoma


And We’re Off and Growing in 2016!

And We’re Off and Growing in 2016!
May 26, 2016  The RCS Giving Garden is tilled, staked, fenced, irrigated and planted for the 2016 season!  On Monday, May 25th RCS staff and nine Master Gardeners from Washington County worked together to make the garden come to life for its 8th year.  I’m so grateful to be part of this garden once again and send out a huge THANKS to all who have helped with the many details and tasks necessary to get this plot of land off and growing once again.  

On Wednesday, May 25th, a group of UPS employees came out to the garden, as they do every year, to work on putting up the perimeter fence while RCS staff worked on finishing the irrigation system.  Fencing the garden requires much labor trench digging, unrolling metal fence rolls that always seem to want to bite a person, zip-tying and back-filling!  Great work folks!  We got the job just about completed before the thunder, lightning and monsoon rains came through...hence the final photo standing in the garden shed!  Thanks so much for your service to the community today! We will see you later in the season for some harvesting!
--submitted by Kathy Luoma, WCMG
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” --Helen Keller


Stillwater Lacrosse Boys Trade Their Lacrosse Sticks for Shovels

The RCS Giving Garden is looking better and better every day thanks to our community partnerships’ donations.  Last week the entire Stillwater Boys Lacrosse team came out to the garden after school to help us with numerous spring garden tasks.  Your gift of time and service are greatly appreciated! Forty-plus young men tackled the jobs of painting row stakes, preparing raised beds for planting, digging weed clumps, trimming raspberry canes and spreading 25 cubic yards of aged farmpost to improve our soil!  I can feel the tomatoes happiness already!  They are growing nicely in the greenhouse waiting to spread their roots in the soil in a few weeks.

A special THANK YOU goes out to Sarah Buerkley from Sarah’s Cottage Creations in Stillwater and Eric from Scout, Inc. in Oakdale for their generous donations toward the purchase of this fluffy farmpost delivered from Kern Landscape Resources.  Messy and stinky it is, but our plants will be so pleased!  

A shout out to Dan and Nate and the rest of the RCS staff for all of their work to improve the property and garden area and especially for their help directing the boys!  

Submitted by Kathy Luoma, Washington County Master Gardener

Cottage logo TiltedShd05-1.png


The Garden Sleeps...But We Do Not!

The RCS Giving Garden looks like a quiet patch of snow-covered ground on this February day, but for those of us who volunteer in this garden we are making preparations to bring that ground to life!  It’s time to schedule our volunteers young and old and everyone in between.  Email Kathy Luoma if you want to get yourself or a group on the calendar at

We are always so grateful for our generous donors!  We received a box of 50 seed packets from Seed Savers Exchange this week to use in our garden!  Seed Savers Exchange is an organization headquartered in Decorah, Iowa  that is dedicated to seed preservation.  They donate their year-old seeds through a called Herman’s Garden Seed Donation Program to gardens that are dedicated to helping others, and the RCS Giving Garden certainly meets those qualifications!  Check out the seed photo!  Opening that box filled with seeds with names such as ‘Golden Zucchini’ Squash and ‘Dr. Whyche’s Yellow’ Tomato and ‘De Cico’ Broccoli (to name just a few) was so much fun!  Thank you Seed Savers Exchange!

--contributed by Kathy Luoma, Washington County Master Gardener


Trillium Garden Club Friends Share their Helping Hands

A big THANK YOU goes out to my friend, Shelly, and members of the Stillwater Perennial Garden Club Trillium Chapter for helping to harvest 55 pounds of produce on a gorgeous September morning!  

The garden keeps on producing a nice variety of summer squash, tomatoes, beans, Asian greens, chard, carrots, peppers and cabbage.  Take a peek at our ripening pumpkins and delicious raspberry crop!  

- Submitted by Kathy Luoma, Washington County Master Gardener and Trillium Garden Club member!


Willis and Remembering 911 in the Garden

Willis of Minnesota assisted in today’s harvest.  The produce was still wet with morning due.  The cool air made it enjoyable to harvest and do some weeding here and there.   

We harvested 32 pounds of produce.  The produce wasn’t the only topic on our minds this morning.  Remembering the victims and families of 911, the firefighters and law enforcement, and the impact it made on America 14 years ago was also on our minds this beautiful sunny morning.  

A "Thank You" goes out to the lovely ladies that spent their morning with us. 

- Contributed by Joy Grognet


Honey Donation & and an Upward Moving Queen Bee

A.J. Moses uncapping the honey to extract!
Click on any photo to enlarge
This morning, A.J. Moses, our Beekeeper extraordinaire, stopped by with the honey from the honey harvest.  In total, we had 36 pounds of honey that were donated to the food shelf today that were harvested from one of our bee hives.

The honey from our 2nd hive cannot be harvested due to our very upward moving Queen Bee!  Apparently, she somehow got past the "queen excluder", and made her way to the top of the hive.  It is preferred to keep the queen in the lower portion of the hive to keep the brood there, leaving only honey in the top portion.  So, our entire 2nd hive has brood.  Good for the bee population, bad for honey production!

Here is a link to read more on the topic:

Thank you A.J. for all that you do for the Teaching Giving Garden bees and your volunteer help with the garden as a whole!

- Contributed by Joni Fletty


PowerUp, Organic Garden & Frogs!

The PowerUp Team posing with Scare Crow Bob!
L to R:  Stephanie Kovarik, Jennifer Strom, Kelly Appeldorn, Marna Canterbury,
Lainie Steffen and Julia Johnson
(Click any photo to enlarge)
Julia made friends with this guy
 in the corn patch!
The team from PowerUp came to the garden to harvest today!  PowerUp and Lakeview Foundation have been amazing partners with the RCS Teaching Giving Garden.

Not only in help with harvest time, but in 2014 they donated a greenhouse to the garden.  Because of that generous donation, the youth who learn here, were able to start from seed, 50% of the plants in this garden.

Marna, Stephanie, and Lainie have been to the garden before.  This time they brought with them three new helpers, Jennifer, Kelly and Julia!

We harvested rutabaga, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes (Marna's favorite), summer squash, zucchini, purple beans, carrots, kale, rainbow Swiss chard, pok choi, broccoli and the last kolhrabi!  103.1 pounds total.

Julia coming out of
the corn with "Chippy"
Julia entered the corn field, and emerged with a new friend, a green frog they nick named "Chippy".  Chomp is the mascot for PowerUP, so they named this one "Chippy"!  Julia had him on her shoulder as she harvested, and finally, he rested on her pony tail while posing for pictures with the group.

"Chippy" being unsociable!
This garden has several frogs.  As we harvested, we discussed that frogs are a healthy thing to see in an organic garden.  While the organic nature is healthy for them to hang out in, they also take care of the insects that can invade the garden.  Too many frogs could eliminate our pollinators, but this has been a very healthy garden this year!

Chomp at the edge of our
Thank you to the PowerUP team.  You have an incredible program and your message to youth and families is in synergy with this Teaching Giving Garden.  What an amazing partnership this has been!  We look forward to see you again soon!

Please read up on PowerUp at:

103.1 Pounds harvested for Valley Outreach today!
- Contributed by Joni Fletty


Author D.S. Venetta donates book to the Teaching Giving Garden

Show Me The Green - Author D.S. Venetta

The RCS Teaching Giving Garden connected via Twitter with a wonderful Author, D.S. Venetta.

She has written a gardening book for children that has lessons in the back.  She sent the RCS Teaching Giving Garden two copies.  I will be sharing these with our Master Gardener teachers and we will be putting these to good use this next year with our 2016 garden students.

Check her out at:  @dsvenetta on Twitter or at: 

D.S. Venetta Author Page

Thank you D.S. Venetta!  This will enrich the lessons that we provide the youth in this Teaching Giving Garden!


Andersen Corp Harvests 180.3 Pounds!

Andersen Employee's and their 180.3 pound harvest!

Andersen Corporation employees joined us today in a larger harvesting.  180.3 lbs. of produce was harvested, weighed and delivered to the food shelf. The corn crop was at its peak! 

Due to critters in the garden we thought it would be good to harvest all that was ready as not to allow the creatures to get more.  The sun and rain over the weekend gave the crops reason to grow.  They also took the time to remove the cucumber structures, trim the strawberries stems back and fight for raspberries from the bees, and Asian beetles.  Although we did get some raspberries it appears so did they.     

The pumpkins would have added poundage to our harvest today, we admired the looks of them and thought it might be best to let them continue to grow.  All extra hands and feet in the garden are appreciated.  Thank you for giving of your time to help us feed plenty. 

- Contributed by Joy Grognet


Sylvia and Natalie Conquer a Load of Weeds!

Sylvia and Natalie and the conquered weeds!
Sylvia and Natalie had one large harvest today - weeds!  The before and after pictures of the area they weeded shows how hard they worked to keep this organic garden weed free.

Thank you so much gals for your volunteer time and uncovering our turnips and Asian Greens!

Hauling the weeds to the woods!


Andersen Corp: Staining, Building & Harvesting!

Andersen Corp employee who came for harvest, stain
the picnic tables they previously donated,
and built benches! 
Today was a very productive day pulling weeds and cleaning up our garden.  

Andersen Corporation employees came and stained the picnic tables they donated earlier this year, and also assembled and donated 2 outdoor benches to the garden! 

This will allow the students a place to sit when they are being taught about gardening in the Giving Garden.  They enjoyed giving of their time on a pretty warm day.  

30 lbs was picked and brought to Valley Outreach.  

Thank you so much for your continued support in our garden.

- Contributed by Joy Grognet