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


June 23rd, 2016 --Latest Garden Happenings!


Borage flowers are a beautiful shade of blue AND they taste like cucumber!  An annual herb, borage is a plant pollinators can’t get enough of them!  We popped some in the garden on Monday near our vining vegetables to give our honeybees a reason to visit!
Borage for Bees!
Our latest volunteer groups have been working hard to help us stay on top of the weeds that always seem to love our garden!  Here is our volunteer, Bree, helping to lay landscape fabric and weed garden areas with Master Gardeners Deb and Christi.  


We welcomed the Stillwater School District Adventure Club kids back to the garden on Monday with their new leader, Elizabeth!  After familiarizing themselves with the garden and the plants, they helped us to weed the onions and pumpkins, plant some more carrot seeds, and harvest some baby lettuce.  They brought our first donation of the season over to Valley Outreach on their way back to school.  Before they left us, however, they all completed what we are calling the “Victoria Watermelon Challenge!”  We love to compost watermelon rinds from our re-hydration snack...but only the rind and not the pink flesh!  Another watermelon slice can be taken when the rind and only the rind is left of their first!  We are so glad Victoria is back to help this year, too!



Woodbury Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church kids return to the garden!

Thanks for coming out to the garden the past two weeks to help Master Gardener Liz Nordling take care of garden tasks!  The plants are so much happier with those weeds removed!  




A Sunflower House with Time for Me kids!

A Sunflower House with Time for Me kids!IMG_3153.JPG

When working with the smallest helpers in the garden, I love to pull out the largest seeds that grow the tallest plants!  Of course, that would be Mammoth Sunflowers!  The Time For Me preschool kids came out with their teachers Elise and Gracie to see the garden while the plants are still small.  Check out our baby broccoli heads!  

We read the story A Sunflower House by Eve Bunting.  Then we made a sunflower craft followed by the planting of a sunflower house in the corner of our garden.  We planted a variety of sunflower seeds but made sure to spread out the mammoth variety that may get to 12 feet tall!  It will be fun for these kids to visit again to watch the sunflower house grow tall!  We hope to use it as a shady place for a snack in August!  Thanks for your visit to the garden!  Kathy Luoma,MG


New In The Garden This Year...
Take home veggie bags for our young volunteers! 

We at RCS believe that investing in the youth of our community is very important. We want to show our youngest volunteers how delicious and fun gardening can be! Starting in the 2016 harvest season, we will provide these take home bags for our youth volunteers to take home a bit of our garden to share with their families and learn now to incorporate them into delicious (and healthy) meals! Our employees will even be compiling recipes to share featuring the produce our garden yields!

"Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate!"


RCS on Facebook!
Follow the company that started it all on Facebook! Retail Construction Services’ (RCS) Facebook page is now an additional source to follow and see the progress of the RCS Giving Garden. With photo galleries of our team’s work within the garden and progress updates, you’ll get an even closer look behind the scenes of the company and the people that help create a successful season of growth since 2009. Like their page today!

Click here for our page


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