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

7/30/10

The ALC and SPIN students were in the garden again this morning! The ALC students mentored the SPIN students on our favorite… garden pests! Having an organic garden has its struggles, and pests are one of them. They students learned about Potato Bugs, the abundant Japanese Beetles this year, and a few vegetable and potato fun facts.

The students collected Japanese Beetles, crickets and other small bugs off of the plants. They then picked, weighed and donated produce from the garden to Valley Outreach food shelf.

We had some Gecko’s visit the company for the day, so all of the students were able to see and enjoy the Gecko’s!

video

7/26/10

Harvesting Your Own Seeds Day!

The students from the Stillwater ALC High School were in the Retail Construction Giving Garden this morning for “seed” day. We talked about genetically engineered seeds and its impact on our world. (see photo video below for pictures from this morning!)

We began with the potato, and I don’t mean “French fries”! Potatoes were first cultivated by the Inca Indians in Peru in about 200 B.C. Andean farmers once grew some 4,000 potato varieties, each with its own name, flavor, and use, ranging in size from tiny to gigantic and covering the color spectrum from indigo-purple to red, orange, yellow and white.

People use to eat what they grew locally and what was in season. With the increased appetite for produce that was out of season (eating strawberries in October as an example), and the increased demand to ship produce all over the world, farmers had to start breeding varieties that held up in boxcars, trucks, or ship’s cargo.

Now, even in the regions of Peru least affected by the modern market, only a few dozen potato varieties are widely grown.

Additionally, Seed producing companies and scientists have created genetically engineered seeds that will produce crops only once. After that, people from across the world, and specifically third world nations, have to depend on the seed companies to create more seeds, because the crop seeds will not be of any use.

Because of the genetically altered produce and seeds, we found it important to share these lessons with the students and teach them how to cultivate their own seeds; specifically those seeds with a slimy coating on them like tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, etc. It’s a slimy, moldy stinky process, but its fruition is the free, unaltered seeds to plant for the coming year. Click here for an instruction sheet.

We also talked about the amount of fossil fuels it take for produce that is out of season to be shipped all across the world. (See the “Did you know” below)

We discussed organizations like Seed Savers, http://www.seedsavers.org/. This is a member supported organization that saves and shares the heirloom seeds of our garden heritage, forming a living legacy that can be passed down through generations. Through the efforts of these types of organizations, seeds for produce that was no longer grown are becoming available. Who knows, maybe one day we will have 4,000 varieties of potatoes back in existence? We encouraged the students to go to the Farmers Market in downtown St. Paul to sample the purple potato variety that has reintroduced to our tables.

Did you know?

· We put as much fossil fuels in our refrigerators as we do our cars?

· We consume 400 gallons of oil per year, per person, about 17% of our nation’s energy for agriculture? That includes tractors, tillers, fertilizer, insecticides, drying, packaging, shipping, etc…

· But getting the crop from seed to harvest only takes 1/5 of the total fossil fuel used for food.

· Each food item in a typical US meal has traveled an average of 1,500 miles!

· If every US Citizen ate just one meal a week, any meal, composed of locally and organically grown meat or produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels every week.

video

7/23/10

ALC Students Enjoying the Harvest

In the words of Nancy H. Jordon, "I plant flowers and vegetables. I harvest memories - and life." The students at ALC had the opportunity to harvest the crops they helped plant earlier this spring. We are having a lot of fun in the garden and making many friends and memories! Photo slide show below..

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7/21/10

Andersen Corp. Employee's "Dig In" at the Giving Garden!

Left to right in back: Scott Koenig and Steve Kirby. Left to right in front: Kristen Haak, Bryce Buckles, Ben Buckhahn, Curtis Gabbert, Dane Durch and Jessica Weber.


"Earth laughs in flowers."-- is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. However, recently at the RCS Giving Garden, our garden has looked more like "Earth laughs in weeds!" Andersen Corp. employees were in the garden today to help pick and donate 42+ pounds of produce. They also re-tied tomato plants and did "lots and lots and lots" of weeding! We had several aisles where the weeds were taking control of this organic garden. On a day where the temperatures reached the upper 80's, this group kept on working and did an absolutely amazing job in putting a huge dent in the weed population.

Andersen Corp is located at100 4th Avenue North, Bayport, MN 55003 www.andersenwindows.com. Andersen Corporation’s commitment to supporting the community dates back to the company’s founding in 1903. Through the years, Andersen has supported organizations such as the United Way, American Red Cross, local chambers of commerce and many others. Their charitable activities include donations, employee volunteerism and civic involvement in the communities where their company has presence.

We look forward to Andersen Corp. joining us again in the garden very soon. They left the RCS Giving Garden looking amazing, and instead of "laughing weeds", our garden is "laughing produce" once again! Thank You Andersen Corp.!













7/19/10

Gift from Lake Elmo Adventure Club Kids!

The RCS Giving Garden received a wonderful surprise gift from the students from Lake Elmo Elementary's Adventure Club. The kids made a beautiful stepping stone for our garden that says "The Garden That Gives"! These students were out earlier this year and helped plant 110 donated strawberry plants. We will be placing this stepping stone in front of one of our garden signs so that all our garden vistitors can enjoy the artistic work of these students. Thank you you Lake Elmo Elementary Adventure Club!

7/16/10

ALC Students Mentoring SPIN Students!

We had a very busy garden today! The ALC Students were here in the morning, as well as in the afternoon. The morning students mentored the SPIN students on many garden projects, and both groups worked on the following projects:

- Picking produce, weighing and donating (another 40+ pounds!)
- Pinching off the suckers on the tomato plants
- Tying up the tomatoes
- Planting replacement crops
- and of course... more weeding!

As you go through the video slide show below, you will see not only the hard work these students are putting into the garden; but something else... The older ALC students tapping into their creativity and expanding their understanding of the gardening they are teaching, the younger students learning not only gardening skills, but lessons by example, and above all, great memories!

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7/13/10

07-13-10 - First Garden Donation!

Today we donated our first harvest of veggies to Valley Outreach. 59.2 pounds of zucchini, onion and parsley! Much, much more to come!