THE GARDEN STORY

Retail Construction Services, Inc. is dedicated to giving back.

We give back not only to those in need within our community, but also the future generations of this wonderful community. What started out as a great idea has grown exponentially and has become an amazing reality. Here at the RCS Giving Garden, school groups, master gardeners, corporate volunteers, and our own employees work together for the common good of teaching children the art of gardening and the importance of healthy eating. Click Here for Full Story.

LOCATION:
Retail Construction Services, Inc.
11343 39th Street N.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

From HWY 36 - go south on Lake Elmo Ave, turn left onto 39th Street, garden is at corner of 39th and Laverne.
From HWY 5- going west from Stillwater take right onto Laverne (near Fury dealership) garden is on the right at corner of Laverne and 39th street.

See what else RCS and the Giving Garden are up to:
Like Us on Facebook& Follow Us on Twitter

The RCS Giving Garden

The RCS Giving Garden

11/19/09

ALC Students Winterize Fruit Trees and Bushes

November 19, the St. Croix Valley ALC students, along with their instructor, Tom Wendt, made their first visit to the Giving Garden.

Master Gardener, Paul Richtman, reviewed what the students had learned earlier in class time about winterizing fruit trees and bushes, the various methods and reasons. He expanded on those lessons and fielded a variety of very good questions that came up.

After measuring for correct length, the students cut 4” plastic corrugated drain tubing and placed around the trunks of the apple and pear trees to protect them for the winter. Ideally white tubing would be the best color to reduce the heat of the sun, but in keeping with our reuse, recycle theme, we used what was available as discarded tubing. RCS employees will go back and spray paint them white.

Paul reviewed with the students the winterization of the raspberry and blueberry bushes as well as the grape vines. In order to protect the blueberry bushes from our population of rabbits, the students used circumference mathematical calculations for measuring and then cut, placed and secured wire fencing around the bushes.

As Tom so eloquently phrased, “the seed has been planted”, and we look forward to a long-term partnership between The Giving Garden and ALC for years to come!

11/5/09

Krueger's Christmas Trees Turns Garden for the Winter Rest


We want to extend a huge thank you to Neil Krueger from Krueger's Christmas Trees down the road for coming over and mulching and turning under the vegetation for the winter! Neil will be back in the spring to plow in mulch and get the garden ready for the 2010 donation season. Thank you Neil!

10/30/09

RCS Giving Garden Asleep for the Winter!

Our garden has been put to bed for the winter, bringing to end the first year of our Giving Garden story. With just over 1,800 pounds of produce donated we learned much. Not only the trial and error of gardening, but of ourselves, our co-workers, our community, and of possibilities. We took the photo above and those below after that first snowfall in October and before we turned the garden for the season. It was too beautiful to pass up!

Thank you to the two owners of RCS, Steve Bachman and Gim Middleton for their use of the property, their support in this project, not laughing when I said that June was not too late to start a garden AND their expertise with constructing and installing a life saving irrigation system!

Thank you to our Sponsors: Buell's Landscape Center and their trooper Wendy; Bergmann's Greenhouse & Garden; Chippewa Valley Growers; Todd Bruchu; National Reprographics, LLC; The Master Gardener's Program through the U of M; Ivy Rose Design; Future Farm Food & Fuel, LLC; Houle's Farm, Garden & Pet; Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association; Coca Cola; Stillwater Farm Store; and the City of Lake Elmo.

Thank you to our Educational Participants: Stillwater School District's SPIN Program. Annette, Tammy, Katie, Jason, and all of the SPIN kids, we had a blast and miss seeing the little red and white school bus pull up! See you next summer!

Thank you to our recipients: Valley Outreach. Kate, Cara, and Nanc, you are wonderful inspirations for the community; United Way of Washington County East. Joan and Marna who with large smiles and large hearts, took the over-flow on days that we couldn't donate to Valley Outreach.

Thank you to our RCS employees. Not only those who were able to contribute their time and talents in the garden, but to those who contributed ideas along the way.

We recently received a call from Tom Wendt with the Stillwater District's ALC program (http://alc.stillwater.k12.mn.us/). We are excited to announce that the ALC students will be participating in our Giving Garden project and will be helping us take it from slumber to rebirth in the spring and beyond. We will keep you posted on their projects and their contributions to the Giving Garden project. Opportunities... not only to experience the fruition of this garden's produce to share, but the fruition of people and a community coming together, one seed at a time. With those opportunities, this becomes so much more than a garden.

Thank you all again, Joni

10/9/09

Last Harvest



On October 9th, we picked the last that our garden had to offer to the food shelf. We have deer that recently found our garden and we harvested the remaining squash that they had not taste tested. We also had the opportunity to empty out our experimental potato barrels! We have had many lessons learned over the past year. While we had potatoes, we also had mushy potatoes at the bottom of the barrel. So next year, more drainage holes in the bottom, or no bottom. Also, no dirt next year, only peat moss. We had hoped that the students from the SPIN class could return to "roll out the barrel's", it proved to be a difficult task to contact everyone. Thank you SPIN class for you participation in our potato barrel project. As you can see, we had some success and look forward to working with you guys this next year!

9/28/09

Stillwater School District Employees Volunteer at the Garden

Staff members from the Stillwater School District have volunteered their time to come over and pick produce in the RCS Giving Garden on Monday mornings! Today, Tammy Palmer and Amy Nasers picked 125 pounds of tomatoes. 33 pounds of Sun Golds, 60 pounds of regular tomatoes, 25 pounds of roma's and 7 pounds of yellow heirlooms! Thank you Stillwater School District!

9/21/09

RCS Giving Garden Reaches 1,000 Pounds of Donated Food!

On Monday, September 21st, the RCS Giving Garden has reached the 1,000 pound mark and has donated 1,100.7 pounds of produce to the local food shelves!


8/21/09

Veggie Pizzas

Students from the SPIN program came out today and made delicious veggie pizzas using some of the produce that was harvested form the Giving Garden. (Click here for the recipe that the kids followed today). While this is the last time for the students to help out before school begins, the students and their families are encouraged to stop by at any time to check on the progress of the Giving Garden. The kids also presented RCS with a large tomato thank you card signed by evryone that is hanginin in the RCS lobby.

An RCS staff member will be contacting the SPIN students this fall so that they can come back and help “roll out” the potato barrel’s that they created back in July. Thanks to all the SPIN students for you help with the Giving Garden this summer and we will see back you soon!










8/12/09

QUITE CONTRARY!

Pioneer Press 08-12-2009
By Bob Shaw bshaw@pioneerpress.com

If lawns had legs, they would be running scared.

This summer, volunteers are tearing up the manicured lawns of corporations, replacing them with "giving gardens" to raise produce for the food shelves.

Click here for the full Pioneer Press story on the RCS Giving Garden!

8/7/09

Students Donate to Local Food Shelf

Today students from the Stillwater Spin program harvested some of the vegetables from the RCS giving garden. The students then came inside and weighed and logged each type of produce using a digital scale. A total of 42 lbs of produce was harvested and donated! The kids decided to have some fun with the scale and all jumped on and as you can see from the photo below, we had 531 lbs of kids working in the Giving Garden today!

The Students then headed out to the Valley Outreach Food Shelf to drop off the 42 lbs of fresh produce, tour the food shelf with staff members and get a better understanding of how their efforts are helping those in need.





8/5/09

U of M Master Gardeners Visit

Yesterday, Master Gardener's from the University of Minnesota's Extension Program paid us a visit to check on progress and continue their mentoring. While walking near the squash plants, they noticed that some of them had a "powdery mildew" that we will have to end up treating with an organic fungicide. Never would have seen that had the experts not been out here! Thank you to our Master Gardeners. To read more about Master Gardener's working in Washington County click here.


Tricia Jorgenson, Karen Thielman, Ron Pierce, Paul Richtman

7/31/09

Worm Composting Boxes

Today, students from the Stillwater School District’s Spin Program created red worm composting boxes that will eventually be used to fertilize the RCS Giving Garden. The students drilled air holes in the tops of the recycled boxes and filled them with shredded recycled paper, compost, water and cardboard pieces. For detailed instruction on how to create a worm compost box click here.

Next, it was time for the students to get their hands dirty by adding in discarded organic food scraps that have been saved by the RCS employees over the last couple of weeks and finally, the students mixed in the red worms. During the process, the students learned some interesting facts about worms and the roles they play in nature, which can be found here.

After the worm compost boxes were sealed and moved out of the sun, the students added compost/dirt to the potato barrels and then made covers for the rain barrels, which consisted of cutting up chicken wire and mosquito netting and forming the pieces over the rain barrels that the students help make a couple of weeks ago.

The kids also thoroughly enjoyed being interviewed by a reporter from the St. Paul Pioneer Press who was visiting for an upcoming article on the RCS Giving Garden.





7/29/09

RCS Garden featured in The Spotlight


Spotlight on Community Education:
How does your garden grow?

That’s what our Stillwater Community Education Spin students are asking the Lake Elmo based Retail Construction Services (RCS) corporate office. At the beginning of June, project organizers received the green light to develop a "Giving Garden" on the company’s front lawn! The garden is intended to provide fresh produce to local food shelves and bring the community together. Spin students were invited to participate in several gardening projects scheduled throughout the summer.

Click here to read full story

7/22/09

First Donation

RCS dropped off the first donation to the Valley Outreach Food Shelf (1lb of lettuce, 3lbs of zucchini, peppers and cherry tomatoes). This donation is the first of many more donations that will take place as the RCS Giving Garden continues to grow!


7/17/09

Bee Hives and Rain Barrels

Local Beekeeper, Earl Salper, representing the Minnesota Beekeepers Association came out today to speak with RCS Volunteers and several students from the Stillwater SPIN program. Earl will be placing 1-2 hives next to the Giving Garden in the upcoming weeks as an added benefit to the garden!

The Students learned about the important roles that bees play in nature, how bee hives are created and maintained, and several other fun facts which can be found by clicking here. Also discussed, was how and potentially why millions of honey bees have been disappearing around the country. For the link to the PBS program “Silence of the Bees” that is an in-depth look at the search to uncover what is killing the honeybee, click here or visit http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/silence-of-the-bees/introduction/38/

After a quick warm up inside and a minor rain delay, Retail Construction Services Employees then gave a demonstration to the students on how to build a rain barrel as well as the reasons and benefits for capturing and reusing collected rain water. RCS employees showed the kids how easily the rain barrels will fill up using this calculator. The students helped to build each barrel that will be attached to the three different downspouts on the RCS Corporate office building

Thanks to everyone for coming out today and braving the October like weather!