THE GARDEN STORY

Here at Retail Construction Services, Inc., we are dedicated to giving back.

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.
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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.


The RCS Giving Garden

The RCS Giving Garden

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!





7/10/09

Spud Barrel Update

A few progress photos. Even though they were planted a the same time, the potatoes in the darker barrels seem to be groing better than the ones in the white barrels...


White Barrel Dark Barrel

Stillwater Students Help Out Again

As part of a continuing program, several students from the Stillwater School District’s Spin Program came out again today to help with installing garden posts, stringing up tomato plans and building trellis’ for the cucumber plants.

Before the work began, the students learned about how Ethylene Gas is often used to ripen vegetables and fruits that are prematurely picked (click here for more information on Ethylene gas) and how using green bags to store fruits and vegetables makes them last longer. Some interesting facts about tomatoes and cucumbers were then discussed like how most of the tomatoes produced today are turned into salsa and not Ketchup (click here for the fun facts)

The students then helped install several posts and stringed up twine between each post to be used as support for the growing bean plants. Using slipknots, the students then attached several tomato plants to the rows of twine above to help guide their growth.

Lastly, the kids assembled about sixteen trellis structures that were placed over each cucumber plant. The trellis’ were made out of recycled 1”x1” posts and attached together at the top with a bolt/nut and garden twine. The students then threaded twine through three pre-drilled holes on each leg of the trellis for further stability and guidance for the cucumber plants.

A great time was had by all!









7/2/09

Stillwater Students Create "Spud Barrels"

Today, volunteers of the RCS Giving Garden worked with ten middle school students from the Stillwater School District’s Spin Program to participate in the “Spud Barrel Project”.

When the students arrived they learned a little history about potatoes as well as some fun and interesting potato facts (Click here for fun the fun potato facts we covered). Then it was time to get their hands dirty and create the planting soil, which was a combination of dirt and compost. Groups of students partially up each barrel, planted 4-6 small seed potatoes in each barrel and then watered.

The intent of the Spud Barrel Project is that when the potatoes have about 6-8” of foliage, more of the same soil mixture is then placed on top and the process is repeated until the barrel is full. The students will monitor and maintain each of the four barrels throughout the growing season. (Click here for directions to create your own Spud Barrel)

Since there was some extra time, a few of the students also helped out by watering the fruit trees and others helped with stringing up some of the tomato plants.



7/1/09

RCS Giving Garden featured in Stillwater Gazette

Below is an article on the RCS Giving Garden that was featured in yesterday's issue of the Stillwater Gazette. For the link to the story, click here





Community garden takes root in Lake Elmo
By LAUREN ANASTOS
(Created: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 1:41 PM CDT)

LAKE ELMO - Looking to combine education, environmentalism and community service, a local construction company recently converted its lawn into a community garden that will be used to stock the local food shelf and teach elementary students the basics of agriculture.

Inspired by a story about a community vegetable garden in New York City, Retail Construction Services Vice President Joni Fletty pitched the idea to the company's owners. Within a month, preparations were underway for the 0.2-acre "Giving Garden," which was planted early last week.

Fletty said the project is a natural fit for Retail Construction, which specializes in "green" projects and looks for ways to support the communities in which it works."

There was so much opportunity outside our doors to provide fresh, healthy options for people. Our real estate was begging for more than just a mower to drive over it," she said.

Before long, the idea blossomed to include a teaching opportunity, and Fletty said she expects children from Lake Elmo Elementary School - located a block away from the company's 39th Street offices - will get involved with the project when school resumes."

As a mom, I am aware how so many children don't know where our food comes from," Fletty said. "So Lake Elmo is incorporating the Giving Garden into the curriculum for this coming school year."

Specifically, Fletty said children will help harvest the food in the fall and plant the following year's crop in the spring. Once the produce is harvested, it will be donated to Valley Outreach, a Stillwater food shelf."It is about not only planting seed in the garden, but also in the minds of children," Fletty said, noting that ideas cultivated at a young age can lead to something big and wonderful in the future.

In order to make the best use of their funds, Retail Construction solicited advice from three Master Gardeners through the University of Minnesota's Extension Program.

With the support of 20 volunteers and several community groups, a portion of the garden was planted with herbs, beans, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, squash, melons and blueberries last week.

Fletty said she was astonished how much time, material and funding was donated to the project by community groups and her Retail Construction colleagues."We expected only a little support, but once we told the story, we were really surprised about the excitement concerning the project," she said. "It has truly been a community effort."Donors and community partners include: Buell's Landscape Center, Bergmann's Greenhouse, National Reprographics, Ivy Rose Design, Lake Elmo Elementary School, Chippewa Valley Growers and Lake Elmo resident Todd Bruchu.

Those interested in volunteering or learning more about the Giving Garden are encouraged to visit http://www.rcsgivinggarden.blogspot.com/.