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


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


RCS Teaching Giving Garden Green Apple Partner

Article Courtesy of USBGC Minnesota


Green Apple Day of Service is coming soon!  Green Apple gives youth, parents, teachers, school staff, companies, and organizations the opportunity to help transform all our schools into healthy, safe, cost-efficient and productive learning places through community-based service projects in stewardship to the earth.

Join USGBC-MN and our Green Apple partner Retail Construction Services, Inc. (RCS) for our MN GREEN APPLE 2015 challenge - School Gardens. What if every student learned how to grow food? What would be the impact? With the help of RCS, we’re launching planting and composting projects in schools for Green Apple Days of Service. Help us plant the seed of stewardship with MN students! Take the school garden challenge and sponsor a gardening lesson today. Celebrate GREEN APPLE 2015 with us!
Get inspired by the full story here and learn more about becoming involved.



Victoria's Ripple Impact on the Teaching Garden!

Victoria, our 2015 Assistant Teacher in the Teaching Giving Garden
I had written this to Victoria earlier this year after observing her and hearing her passion about working in this Teaching Giving Garden;


Have you ever seen a pebble dropped in a pond or a lake?  It sends out ripples that keep expanding out further and further, eventually reaching all the way to the other side.

Like a pebble hitting the water, every action we do in this world makes a difference.

You are like that pebble in our Teaching Giving Garden...
Victoria, on behalf of the RCS Teaching Giving Garden, "Thank You" for all of your hard work, for the impact you have had on the youth coming to learn at this garden, for sharing your infection smile, and for that ripple you brought and spread in this community!

We are sad to see you go back to school, but know you will be back to visit the garden soon!

- Contributed by Joni Fletty

A Bugs’-Eye View!

A Time for Me tots in the Teaching Giving Garden one last time!
We welcomed back the little ones from the Time For Me Preschool along with their teachers, Elise and Katie, for their final visit to the garden for the 2015 season.  

On their last visit, I promised them that the next time they joined me the corn would tower over their heads, and were we ever right!  Twisting off ripe ears of corn along with cucumbers, squash, beans, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant were some of the harvesting highlights of the day!  

BUGS, helpful and not-so-helpful, were our topic of the day!  We named helpful bugs to our garden such as honeybees, butterflies and lady beetles.  Then we looked at some damage the not-so-helpful bugs do to the plants in our garden by critters like squash bugs, aphids, cabbage worms and Japanese Beetles.  

We identified holes and brown spots and chew marks in leaves and fruit.  It’s amazing what insects one notices when getting down to the level of a four year-old!  In addition to the bugs mentioned above, wasps, bumblebees, slugs, grasshoppers and ants caught our eyes’ attention!  We can’t forget to mention the darling amphibian green tree frog friends we found along the way as well.  

To remember the day with  take home decor for their own their own garden spaces, the kids decorated stones to resemble beneficial insects.  Check out their cute creations!  They also left with a THANK YOU vase of Teddy Bear Sunflowers to place in their school.  I reminded them that their hands planted these seeds early in the season for all to enjoy.  I believe a little red lady beetle tagged along for the walk, too!

Tiny hands can do great things!  You helped Victoria and I harvest 193 pounds of produce!  See you next season and thanks for your help!

-contributed by Kathy Luoma, Master Gardener