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.

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The RCS Giving Garden

The RCS Giving Garden

8/27/10

Spaghetti Squash has Arrived!

Our spaghetti squash crop has been coming in! Spaghetti squash isn't a small-town festival where women stomp pasta in giant wooden vats. It's a vegetable whose name makes perfect sense when you cook it--underneath the rind, the flesh separates into long pasta-like strands.

Along with butternut squash, turban squash, and pumpkins, spaghetti squash is part of the winter squash family, sometimes known as "keeper" squash because they will last for several months in cool storage. Their hard rind that protects them from moisture, an attribute that people have been taking advantage of for thousands of years--parts of winter squash have been found in pre-Columbian archeological sites in South America.
North American natives grew them too.

In fact, our name for squash comes from the Naraganset word "askutasquash" which the colonists corrupted to "isquotersquash," (think it in a Dutch accent) later shortened to just plain squash.

As for storage, keep them at room temperature for up to a month. For longer-term storage, ideally you need a place where the temperature hovers around 50 degrees.

We cooked one for our office staff to try. Wash and dry a squash and keep it whole. Rub the outside shell with olive oil, pierce one or two holes into it with a knife. Place on a baking dish and bake for 40 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. When done your fork or knife will easily pierce it. Cut it open, and enjoy as is, or toss with a little olive oil or butter and a few herbs such as basil, chives, chervil, parsley or sage. Enjoy!

8/20/10

And it Just Keeps on Growing!!

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
~Harold Whitman~

This quote embodies the spirit we see in Tom Wendt from the Stillwater ALC; not only in his interactions with his students, but in the pure joy he brings to the garden. Tom joined us in the garden this morning to pick the produce that just keeps on growing! The SPIN program has wound down for the summer, and the ALC Students are not back in session until after Labor Day. However, Tom has been wonderful in joining us every Friday morning in the garden to pick, not to mention bringing the produce over to Valley Outreach food shelf for donation.

Today we had tomatoes, lettuce, onions, beans, zucchini, squash, corn, LOTS of hot peppers, bell peppers and eggplant. Below the bottom pictures are links to the three recipes that went to the food shelf with the produce. Again, these were supplied by Molly Brendmoen in our office.

Thank you Tom, and thank you to all of those in our office that are working in the garden every week!

Stuffed Green Peppers

Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

8/17/10

The Corn is Ready!

The majority of our corn crop was ready to pick today. Between the corn, beans, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, we donated just a hair under 87 pounds of produce today.

We also had some of our tomatilla tomatoes ready. The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) is a plant of the tomato family, related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos, referred to as green tomato (Spanish: tomate verde) in Mexico, are a staple in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are grown throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The tomatillo fruit is surrounded by a paper-like husk formed from the calyx. As the fruit matures, it fills the husk and can split it open by harvest. The husk turns brown, and the fruit can be any of a number of colors when ripe, including yellow, red, green, or even purple. Tomatillos are the key ingredient in fresh and cooked Latin American green sauces. The freshness and greenness of the husk are quality criteria. Fruit should be firm and bright green, as the green colour and tart flavour are the main culinary contributions of the fruit.
Tomatillo plants are highly self-incompatible (two or more plants are needed for proper pollination; thus isolated tomatillo plants rarely set fruit).

Ripe tomatillos will keep in the refrigerator for about two weeks. They will keep even longer if the husks are removed and the fruits are placed in sealed plastic bags stored in the refrigerator. They may also be frozen whole or sliced. Molly Brendmoen on our staff offered the following recipes to go along with the these wonderful treats! Click on the link below to open each recipe!

8/13/10

173.4 lbs of Produce Picked in One Day!

Our follow up painting day was cancelled today due to the rain and the wet lumber. However, Andrew Peltier, a student from Stillwater's ALC, and his teacher, Tom Wendt joined us in the garden to harvest.

There was a LOT today! Yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, white eggplant, green peppers, hot peppers, green beans, carrots, lettuce, onions, a couple cabbage, tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Andrew was a trouper and not only picked the produce, but did all the weighing and logging. Andrew works in the kitchen of a local restaurant, and was able to take home a white eggplant to put his culinary skills to the test. Andrew, you will have to let us know the recipe you came up with!

Thank you Tom and thank you Andrew Peltier!

8/6/10

Painting Day in the Garden!

(PHOTO RELEASE PENDING)
The Stillwater SPIN Kids joined us in the garden today. The ALC Students were on break, but their instructor, Tom Wendt joined us.

The kids first picked and weighed produce to donate to the food shelf. Just this week we have had 97.5 lbs of produce to donate! The carrots and peppers are really coming in, and we had our first batch of cherry tomatoes to pick.

Our garden shed has obtained final approval from the City of Lake Elmo, and with the donated wood from Louise Engwer, we had framing materials to prime. Our garden shed needs to stay within the criteria of "earthen tones", so we collected used cans of paint from our employees, and Tom Wendt from Stillwater's ALC mixed up a nice earthen tone from the rainbow of colors! The Stillwater SPIN program donated a lot paint brushes. Thank you SPIN Program!

After the kids put on their paint shirts, they prime painted the 4x4's that will become the framework for the garden shed. Joy Grognet from our office, Retail Construction Services, helped coordinate the paint day.

Lumber Donation from the Newmans!

On Friday morning, August 6th, before the kids arrived, Chuck Newman and his wife, (we need her lovely name!), generously dropped off a donation of lumber for the garden shed. We have been blessed with the materials needed to complete the framing on the shed, and the kids were able to begin painting these prior to construction.

Chuck had called RCS the day before after also receiving the email from United Way of Washington County East looking for donations. Before we knew it, he was here the next morning with his donation.

"Thank you" so much to the Newman's for your donation!

8/5/10

Garden Donation from Lou Engwer!

Marna Canterbury from The United Way of Washington County East had put out an email that the RCS garden was looking for donated, used lumber for our garden shed. We received the most wonderful call from local resident and United Way volunteer, Louise Engwer. She generously donated $100 to the RCS Giving Garden.

While she was camera shy, Retail Construction Services, Inc. extends the most sincere "thank you" to Lou for her generous donation. This donation has helped up buy additional supplies needed to complete our garden shed project with the kids!

Thank you Lou!

8/3/10

UPS Volunteers Enjoy the Fruition of Planting Day!

Left to Right: Libby Wenzel, Andy Wenzel, Lynne Barten, Christina Paquette, Jason Briggs, Mike Von Wald

"If you've never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden." Robert Brault. Team members from UPS returned to the garden today and had the wonderful surprise of seeing how much the garden had grown since they joined us for planting day on May 24th!

Since the launch of their Volunteer Impact Initiative in 1999, volunteerism has become a global phenomenon at UPS as employees around the world have embraced this important piece of the organization’s culture. Every year UPSers from the most senior levels of management to the part-time ranks lend their skills in a variety of ways. From serving as directors for high performing non-profits to lending their skills as loaned executives to local United Ways, UPSers embrace opportunities to participate in knowledge sharing, skills-based volunteerism with its employees and families volunteering more than 1.2 million hours of their time each year.

Additionally, The UPS Foundation, founded has pursued initiatives by identifying specific projects where its support can help produce a measurable social impact. In 2009, The UPS Foundation donated more than $43 million US to charitable organizations worldwide. Visit: http://responsibility.ups.com/ for more information about UPS's community involvement.

We thank the team from UPS for clearing the tomato aisle ways, picking produce and clearing more many more weeds that seem to "love" our garden as much as the produce! We look forward to the UPS team joining us throughout the gardening season. Thank you guys!

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