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.

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


Neighbors, Christmas Trees and Pine Needle Fun

  If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery ….. and if you want to unload Christmas trees, call over a group of energetic, fun loving employees who already have the holiday spirit! That’s exactly what Neil and Deb Krueger from Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farm did.

At least twice a year, the Krueger’s have made their way over to our Giving Garden to plow and turn it under. In exchange, we have had a standing offer to help them with any projects where help is needed.

This past week we received a call from Neil asking if we had staff that could come over and help unload trees over the next couple days. They had two semi-trucks arriving late afternoon on both days and I believe we unloaded 640 trees on Tuesday and well over 500 on Wednesday! We all smelled of fresh pine needles, learned that hand sanitizer removed sap from not only skin, but clothing too, and I think many of us were still finding stray pine needles this week! We had a great time, and as is the nature of our staff, shouting out the count of each tree as it came off the truck and the placement of them turned into something resembling Monty Python or a Saturday Night Live skit...!

Curt hiding out....!~

Below is a note we received from Neil and Deb:

“Hello Joni and crew at Retail Construction!-- Wow! We were so surprised and blessed with all the help from your whole crew last week! We hoped for just a few people to come down and help...but about 8 people came down the first day and helped us unload two huge trucks of Christmas trees! We all unloaded those trucks in under 45 minutes, which is a new world record! The second day, about 15 people showed up to help unload yet another truck! We couldn't believe that you all came to help us twice!

We never could have believed such kindness and generosity from our neighbors "up the road". It certainly was a humbling experience, after unloading trees for forty years, to stand back and watch someone else do it. Everyone sure seemed to laugh, work, and have fun together. I've never heard of anyone enjoying themselves unloading trees!

We hope that we can bring up a tree and a wreath for your lobby next week as a small token of our appreciation for all you've done.

You have touched us and we are grateful. Thank you all again! Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!!

Neil and Deb Krueger - Krueger's Christmas Trees of Lake Elmo

Thank you Neil and Deb for all you do… You know people had fun when they ask if we could make it an annual tradition to help unload those trees.... the answer... "YES"! See you next year!

ATruck 1/2 unloaded


Scarecrow Bob

We received word from Tammy Palmer with the Stillwater SPIN Program that a group of students had “made something to put in the garden”. What could this surprise be?

So yesterday I paid a visit to the school to find out what surprise they made for the garden. To my delight, this creative group of students made “Scarecrow Bob”! They were so excited to share information; how they assembled him, how he was laid-out on a table like they were doing surgery, how he was stuffed and put together. I enjoyed watching the expressions on their faces as they each added to the conversation, layers and layers and layers of talking, laughing and explaining with show-in-tell demonstrations. They pointed out that each student had also signed Scarecrow Bob’s straw hat and on the front they wrote:  Property of Scarecrow Bob.  As a final touch, the students put a shiny metal tape with Bob’s name on the front pocket of his flannel shirt.

Back L to R:  Dylan, Charlie, Sydney, Olivia, Hannah, Megan. 
Front L to R:  Jane, Tatiana, Lindsay, and Sara
(Click to enlarge photo) 
I asked where in the garden we should put him in the spring. Someone said “In the corn of course!”… However, the corn moves every year. We all agreed that Scarecrow Bob deserves the center of attention and he will be placed in the middle of the garden for all to see. This spring we will construct a support stand to keep Scarecrow Bob standing tall for all to see as they visit the garden.

In exchange for the garden gift, I left this group with fresh apple cider and apples from a local orchard. They had one extra jug of cider that they were going to freeze and save for a celebration they were having on the 28th of this month.

Before leaving, one student told me to “remember to buckle him in!” With that in mind, since Scarecrow Bob weighs less than 40 lbs, I put him in the back seat, and secured him for the ride home, and then back to the office. (there is a photo of him in the back seat of the car in the movie at the end of this story) I have to say, riding with a Scarecrow in the back seat was quite funny… more than one car would slow down next to me and then pass by after exchanging a big smile. I had to ask myself if perhaps they thought this was my attempt at an extra passenger to use the ride share lanes!

Scarecrow Bob is now home at Retail Construction Services. As we wait for that first blanket of white to cover the garden, we look forward to enjoying the quiet peace this time of year brings. With Scarecrow Bob as our new garden guardian angel, and his rags of love to flap in the breeze, we are sure to have an amazing year of produce to come!

“For I consider brains far superior to money in every way. You may have noticed that if one has money without brains, he cannot use it to his advantage; but if one has brains without money, they will enable him to live comfortably to the end of his days.”
   ― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz


Solar in the Garden

Our Giving Garden took on a new look this fall!  With the partnership with Able Energy Co., RCS installed solar, not only power our corporate office, but to put energy back into the grid for our friends and neighbors in the community when we generate more than we use.  We will have a live feed appearing on our website after November 4th.  This live feed will display our energy production and usage.  Please visit: go to the "CSR" page and the live feed will be on the lower right hand side of the page.  Please also visit: for more information about the type of solar we installed.


This Shed.....

Marv Newville
(Click to enlarge photo)
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. We can do no great things, only small things with great love.
                                                                                                 - Mother Teresa
This shed…

Over the past year this garden shed has come together in bits and pieces.  Bits and pieces of not only reused and re-purposed material, but bits and pieces of volunteer time as well.  A foundation here, a frame there, doors fit into place… windows, a floor, a roof… a few more nails, some caulking, and a fresh coat of paint.

This has not only been a collaboration of employee time and talent, but also a generous donation by a partner company, Newville Construction Co., Inc.   Russ Newville had stopped by the office and said that they wanted to donate 3 to 4 days of labor to do whatever we needed to complete the shed.  Marv Newville has been here doing just that. He has added trim, cedar shakes, power washed, is painting, and will also be setting up a seedling shelf as well as adding some window boxes to put herbs in for the 2012 season.

While the end result of this shed doesn’t bring food to the tables of those whose need is so great, it does much more. Each garden tool, well worn garden glove and row marker not only hold the stories of seasons past, they hold the stories of seasons to come and the promise of what this garden has yet to produce; not only in fresh food, but in producing compassion, comradeship and in the lesson that the greater pleasure in life lies in the art of giving rather than receiving.

Thank you to all of our employees who have helped out on this project over the past year, and a huge thank you to Marv, Russ and Melanie Newville for their generous gift of materials, time and talent.

"Thank You"
(Click to enlarge photo)


St. Croix Valley ALC Breaks Daily Record with 292lbs!

AM Group L to R: Jackson Maier, Max Christenson,
Andrea Kasinak, Coner Patterson, Henry Simmons
(click to enlarge)

PM Group L to R: Oscar Berry, Joe McKinley, Tom Wendt,
David Meyer, Emily Faust, Sam Thomson, Mikalah Moreno,
and Taylor McDonough  (click to enlarge)
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
~William James

As a garden so often does, it teaches us, every day, and today there was a lesson learned from this early frost. Upon arriving at the garden this morning and seeing the blanket of white, it would have so been easy to throw up my hands and start cutting down the plants that had white crystals on them… whack, whack, whack! After all, if the tomatoes and peppers aren’t going to ripen, why allow them to just take up space? But I didn’t. It’s one of those moments that you stop and say “What if?”

Well, the sun came out, the St. Croix Valley ALC students arrived, and frozen fingers didn’t stop these hard working, wonderful students…. and guess what? We had the most profuse bounty of tomatoes and peppers we have ever had in the garden! These students picked a combined 292lbs of produce for the food shelf! Had we cut those plants down, it would have still been in their prime, right before they could show their real stuff - that burst of brilliance that filled the food shelf with reds, orange, yellow and green......


So, what was the Lesson Learned? Plants can be like people... Don't be too hard on people before they are ready or are briefly frozen from growth; maybe the best bloom of their season is yet to come. If we cut in haste and anger we may cut them down before we can see their true magnificence!

THANK YOU to Jackson, Max, Andrea, Coner, Henry, Oscar, Joe, Tom, David, Emily, Sam, Mikalah and Taylor!

First Frost!

There is something breathtaking about the first frost of the year. Every twig, every branch, every blade of grass, every surface looks like they have been sprinkled with little crystals.

And while it’s breathtaking… it can literally take away a gardeners breath! We had a flurry of activity in the garden as we covered our tomato, eggplant and pepper plants with tarps and bags. Then we waited, held our breath, crossed our fingers, and hoped.

And while the drive to work was beautiful… the ice on top of the tarps was not! While we have a few plants that did not survive, we were fortunate to have the majority of our remaining crop survive!

This first frost was about three weeks early… and while it was breathtaking, we are more than happy to wait a few more weeks for the 2nd frost while the rest of our crop ripens...


Garden Shed, Inspectors and Humor!

Click to Enlarge
Three of our Project Managers, Mike, Curt and Bob, began the final construction on our garden shed. This little building project has had to be squeezed into everyone’s day job of building bigger buildings.   Thank you guys for all of your hard work - this winter it will make a great home to our garden stuff!

We had a surprise project inspection by two of our comic relief employees, Molly and Kelly, who came out to do a “building inspection”. Gotta love the pink sticky citations they issued all over the side of the building!

This… is a GREAT place to work!

The human race has only one really effective weapon, and that is laughter. The moment it arises, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place." -- Mark Twain


Cornstalk Harvest

L to R:  Dan Pilquist, Max Christianson, Chris Pool, Joe Hinman
Henry Simmons, Coner Patterson, Jackson Maiers and James Barrett
Kneeling in front:  Instructor Tom Wendt

Click to Enlarge

The St. Croix ALC Students were out today to not only pick, but to clear the corn stalks. The students bundled to stalks in groups of 5 and have them leaned in a corner of our building to dry out.

Once dry, the school, RCS and staff members can make use of these for fall decoration.

Click to Enlarge


Willis of MN Insurance Agency Sets New Daily Record!

L to R:  Debbie Rentz, Marcia Smith, Jeanne Woolley (standing), Nina Werstein,
Tara Michaels and Katie Connell  (click to enlarge)
"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...
it's about learning how to dance in the rain!"
- Vivian Greene

We began this Friday with the skies opening up to some much needed rain… and greeting the rain drops and a muddy garden was a crew of six from Willis of Minnesota that knew how to dance in the rain. While the rain ended, the dance of collecting produce for the food shelf included lots of mosquito bites, questions, curiosity, prickly plants and a lot of smiles and laughter amongst the tomatoes, eggplant and beans.

Volunteerism is one of those things that is a little bit out of step with the trend to measure results immediately. Today, so much of what we do, especially in business, has to be measured for some sort of quantifiable return and the return has to be relatively quick. Yet volunteerism is the willingness of people to work on behalf of others without the expectation of pay or other immediate tangible gain.

Even though volunteerism may not easily be able to demonstrate the quick results so often demanded today, the spirit it represents has “immeasurable” importance to our communities.

Thank you to Tara Michaels, not only for joining us in the garden, but for organizing this fantastic group of volunteers from Willis; Nina Werstein, Marcia Smith, Debbie Rentz, Jeanne Woolley, and Katie Connell. 

A new daily record for 2011 was set today with this group picking 262.6 lbs of produce. The quantity of fresh food that made the food shelf before a holiday weekend is beyond measurement, and I’m sure was enjoyed by many families over the long weekend. This record breaking day was not just about the numbers… Your impact on the community is “immeasurable”. Tara, Nina, Marcia, Debbie, Jeanne and Katie, RCS extends a heartfelt “Thank you” and an invitation to join us in the garden again - anytime.

"One hand cannot clap on its own
but it needs the other hand to make a clap."
"Many hands make light work."
- Maasai tribal saying


Where Did the Time Go?

L to R:  Lauren, Sophia, Charlie, Tammy,
Meghan, Hannah and Lisa.
(click to enlarge)

L to R:  Tom Sanders, Joe Hinman,
Henry Simmons and Tom Wendt
(click to enlarge)

Today we not only had some ALC students in the garden, but this was the last summer field trip to the garden for the SPIN kids this year. Oh No!!!!

The students from St. Croix Valley ALC were here by 9am and did more mounding of our potatoes, weeded the lettuce, and removed the pea pod plants that have finished for the season.

Everyone began the harvest when the SPIN kids arrived. Corn, beans, eggplant, Swiss Chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatilla’s, zucchini, lettuce, and the big attraction of the day? HOT PEPPERS! We had a little friendly competition between student Joe and one or our Project Mangers Bob. After picking a jalapeƱo with lots of striping, which indicates heat, Joe told Bob that if he ate it, he would try a bite.

Now Bob has a reputation at Retail Construction of never having enough hot sauce or never enough hot peppers on a dish! The pictures of the pepper challenge show Joe’s reaction after taking his bite of the dreaded pepper! A picture is worth a thousand words!

The Pepper Challenge!  (click to enlarge)
Then the three brave SPIN souls of Sophia, Meghan and Hannah decided they wanted to try a slice! Let’s say that water was first on their list. We taught them the trick of eating tomatoes to cool down the heat and that worked very well. So well that Sophia used an open Sun Gold Cherry tomato to rub on her lips to cool them down! Needless to say, we had a good laugh with the seeds all over her face!
Sophia's Sun Gold Cherry tomato cure for burning lips!
(click to enlarge)
When the 115 lbs of produce was picked and weighed, the students were treated to two pizzas made with ingredients from the garden.  Thank you Toni and Mary for making these great pizzas!

We will miss seeing the red and white school bus pulling into the parking lot; miss the laughter, the “Oh gross, it’s a slug” comments, and much, much more.

While the ALC will be back until the garden every Friday until the garden is put to bed this fall, we take our hats off to the SPIN kids and share a sincere “THANK YOU” for all of your help in the garden this summer. Because of your efforts, the food shelf has some wonderfully fresh produce to share amongst the St. Croix Valley residents. “YOU” made a big difference in the lives of so many people. What an amazing group of kids you are!

“Thank You”


Two Groups of Volunteers in the Garden!

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait
a single moment
before starting to
improve the world."
~Anne Frank

L to R:  Matthew, Liam, Connor and Mark 
(click to enlarge)

Sydney and Michael Larson
(click to enlarge)
We had two groups of voluneers in the garden today!  We were joined by local youth; Connor Danford, Mark Donnelly, Liam O'Grady and Matthew Schleusner.  These young men found out about our garden, and after a parent call, joined us this am.  It was fun to see their competitive spirit in the garden on "who could pick the most" and listening to their fun sense of humor as they made their way from crop to crop!  
L to R:  Connor Danford, Mark Donelly, Liam O'Grady
and Matthew Schleusner (click to enlarge)
We were then joined a short time later by the SPIN students.  The SPIN group was most excited about being able to pick carrots and more corn today.  Many guesses were made as to how much in total produce would be donated today...  80 lbs?  90 lbs, 110 lbs, 95lbs, 72 lbs?...

Drum roll..... Together, these two groups set the new "Volunteer Daily Record" by picking 151 lbs of produce!  This amount put us over 1,000 lbs donated so far this year.  We are so lucky to have such great volunteers and fortunate for what we learn from each other every time we are in the garden.   Thank you so much to each of you!

L to R:  Eva, Tammy, Sophia, Megan and Hannah
(click to enlarge)


What's Up Doc?

L to R: Ammy, Kayla, Haylea, MacKenzie, Emily, Anna, Shannon, Libby and Sadie
(click to enlarge image)
 This morning we had a student summer program here from St. Peter Lutheran Church, led by Shannon Hecksel, Director of Christian Education at St. Peter. This program is for youth in grades 5-9 called "W.H.A.M. Week" (We Have A Mission) it is a week long program where they do service projects every day, fellowship and fun.

This group had so much energy and quickly took to splitting up the picking duties. The big surprise of the day? Our carrots were finally ready – and OH BOY were they ready!

This wonderful group picked 90 lbs of produce today – of which 33.2 lbs were carrots!

Thank you to Shannon Hecksel and his students; Ammy, Kayla, Haylea, MacKenzie, Emily, Anna, Shannon, and Libby, along with Sadie Fischer, adult volunteer and member of their Board of Education.

Thank you, and we are hoping that volunteers from St. Peter Lutheran Church can join us in the garden again soon!

L to R: Anna, Haylea, Ammy, Sadie, Emily, Shannon, Kayla, Libby, and MacKenzie
(click to enlarge image)


Our corn crop had it’s first harvest today! Curt Kiesow from our office assisted in showing volunteer Linda Schliep how to identify if corn was ready for harvesting. Linda has been at our garden on several occasions weeding, and today was able to enjoy a harvest. Linda will be coming back to pick more corn as it is ready.

Thank you Curt and Linda!


Butterflies, Bugs and a Bounty

Tom, Joy and Joe
(click to enlarge)


Joe hard at work!
(click to enlarge)

We were joined in the garden this morning first by Tom Wendt and student Joe Hinman from the St. Croix Valley ALC.   Tom and Joe were joined by Joy from our office and they quickly went to work staking up the last of our cherry and tomatillo tomatoes. Shortly thereafter the white and red bus pulled up in the parking lot with the SPIN kids!

Cabbage Caterpillars - Oh my! 
(Click to enlarge)
Not only did they get to harvest a bounty of food, but a bounty of bugs!  We have the ever present Japanese Beetles, but today they discovered the Cabbage Caterpillars.  The kids had fun watching and collecting these green destructive creatures.  A red cabbage leaf was quickly turned into a caterpillar holding vessel.
Laura and Caterpillars!
(click to enlarge)
Monarch  new out of its chrysalis !
(Click to enlarge)

Tom surprised the SPIN kids by bringing out a  monarch chrysalis that was just emerging.  Tom explained the Monarch  metamorphosis process; how the caterpillar creates a chrysalis then 10 to 16 days later cracking open and out comes the monarch butterfly.  Its wings are tiny, crumpled, and wet. The butterfly clings to its empty chrysalis shell as hemolymph, the blood-like substance of insects, is pumped through its body. As the hemolymph fills the monarch's body and wings, they enlarge. At that moment, the monarch is extremely vulnerable to predators because it is not yet able to fly until its wings dry and fully expand.

Click this link to see the entire process:  The SPIN students were invited to visit the ALC where they have over 60 of these chrysalis at various stages of development.  The kids accepted the invitation and they stopped at Tom's classroom on their way to the food shelf.  What a wonderful morning in the garden!

SPIN Kids - names to be added  (click to enlarge image)


Fox 9 News Story on the Food Shelf Record

Fox 9 News featured Valley Outreach in a story on Thursday night, August 4th.  As a surprise to us, they called us Thursday afternoon and asked to come out to the Retail Construction Giving Garden as well.  Below is the story that Leah Beno did.  We hope that this result in many donations to the food shelves across the metro!


New Daily 2011 Record!

We set a new 2011 daily record with 155 lbs of produce today.  We had a couple cabbages that were finally ready.  Some of the corn, eggplant and tomatoes will be ready this next week!


Challenge from RCS to You...

On July 28th I received a call from Cara McLain, Food Shelf Program Director at Valley Outreach.  They had set a new daily record and had distributed over 4,000 lbs of food to families in need.  As Marna Canterbury, Executive Director of United Way Washington County East eloquently put it this afternoon "These are not the kind of records we want to be setting".

In speaking with Executive Director Kate Krisik today, Valley Outreach has been giving out between 45,000 to 50,000 lbs of food a month.

Our challenge to our volunteers, garden students, corporate sponsors, corporate volunteers... please do whatever you can to help Valley Outreach.   

Do you have a home garden or community garden that has excess produce?  Are your neighbors no longer needing your gifts of zucchini and tomatoes?  Valley Outreach and other food shelves would love to take them off of your hands....

I've contacted local media as well, and hopefully, we can bring to light the desperate need for donations during the summer.  If the 4,000 lb day is any indication, the need is substantial.
Valley Outreach
Phone: 651-430-2739
1911 Curve Crest Blvd. West
Stillwater, Minnesota 55082

 In an email from Marna this afternoon, I share the following:

"...... It is heartbreaking that person or families resources are so scarce that they struggle to have enough food, and  go hungry. It is a most basic human need and the demands on our local Valley Outreach food shelf are growing tremendously.

We have seen that hunger is often a barometer of the rising needs under the surface for our neighbors who are struggling. The people and families experiencing hunger and turns to a food shelf often come with multiple other needs. Underlying issues including housing, chronic illness, or disability, or  the costs of health care can drain a person’s resources…leaving them financially unstable, and also hungry.

·United Way supports the needs for food, housing, health care and stability for our neighbors through funding more than 50 essential programs including the important work being done by Valley Outreach. United Way also support:

·        Local volunteer transportation programs to make sure that our elders can access services, or food, even if they cannot drive.

·         Affordable, healthy foods can help stretch the food budgets for all through the Fare for All discounted shopping program every month in Stillwater where anyone can purchase produce and meat products at greatly reduced prices.

The time to reach out to our neighbors is now. Food is needed now. Volunteers are needed for many programs including volunteer drivers so people access services. Financial support is needed to meet all these growing and interconnected needs, with a focus on long term ways to help people have stable lives again."

Marna Canterbury, MS, RD - Executive Director
United Way of Washington County-East
Building Better Lives in Stillwater
and the heart of Washington County

Thank you...

SPIN Kids Set a New 2011 Daily Picking Record --- 66.2 lbs!

L to R:  Laura, Tess, Syndey, Eva and Sophia (Click image to enlarge)
Click image to see enlarge collage...
Today the Stillwater SPIN kids joined us in the garden. We had a smaller class today since they did not have a bus to take to the garden.  I shared with the kids the phone call I received from the food shelf yesterday looking for more food. Valley Outreach Food Shelf had distributed over 4,000 lbs of food on Thursday to families in need, and they were in need of more.  They had received a donation of $900 yesterday afternoon for food, but need more donations to meet the ever growing need.  We were hoping we would have around 60 lbs of fresh produce to donate to them today.

This group, Laura, Tess, Eva, Sydney and Sophia, along with their teachers, Kristen and Tammy work picking produce. The raspberry bushes were so full of Japanese Beetles that we had to skip picking until we can shoo them away this afternoon. Who needs beetle bites? – Not us! The seven raspberries they did harvest made a quick trip to the water for a rinse and then into kid tummies!

The produce picked today included cucumbers, beans, green peppers, banana peppers, lettuce, pea pods, summer squash, and zucchini. The kids had fun with some of the English cucumbers that closely resembled giant smiles… you can see in the photos they were quick to use it for a photo op!

When the picking was done, we headed over to the compost bin. A few weeks ago the ALC High School led a lesson plan on composting. It was fun for the students to be able to see the status of the decomposing waste and how it is turning back into soil. Tess made a comparison between the decomposing compost and animals, humans and other things returning to the soil. What a wonderfully curious and thoughtful group!

Everyone took turns weighing the produce and guessing how much we had picked in total. The guesses ranged between 45 to 60 lbs…. Drum roll please……

This group set the new 2011 daily record by picking 66.2 lbs of produce! Valley Outreach Food Shelf will be very happy when this group stops by to donate their hard work.

Thank you again SPIN kids Laura, Tess, Eva, Sydney, Sophia and their leaders, Kristen and Tammy. We look forward to seeing a full red and white bus pull up to the garden this next Friday with even more kids!

Some interesting numbers to share with everyone: Last year, by this time, we had harvested 53.9 lbs of produce. This year we are already at 386.3 lbs! I think we are on track to make our goal of 3,000 lbs this year!!


Andersen Windows Volunteers in the Giving Garden!

Front L to R: Shelley Wink, Beelian Ong, LeAnn Wakefield
Back L to R: Katie Tjader, Paul Sinz, Dave Krueger
Click to enlarge image
 In the words of William Arthur Ward, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Today we are so grateful to the six volunteers that graced our garden from Andersen Windows. It was a beautiful sunny day, but this group created their own wind storm with their hard work!

They first harvested and weighed the crops. By the way, this group set a new 2011 corporate volunteer record by picking 60lbs of produce in one day! The green and yellow beans were abundant – 14.4 lbs or 24% of the total donation. That’s a lot bean picking! Can you say “full of beans”?

The second activity was building new tomato cages. Our tomato plants have become their own jungle and were growing out of control. The crew from Andersen put wooden stake structures around each tomato plant and secured them with twine. I stepped outside a few times to take photos, talk and see their progress. I enjoyed stepping back and watching not their hard working, but their fluid team work, camaraderie and laughter. What a joy it was to have Shelley, Katie, LeAnn, Beelian, Dave and Paul in the garden today.
(click to enlarge image of tomato cages)
So, the challenge is on for another group of corporate volunteers to pick more that 60 pounds of produce in a day! Not only did they set a new 2011 record, Valley Outreach Food Shelf and their clients reaped the wonderful benefit of food for the next meal.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us;
what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.
~Albert Pike

Thank you again Andersen Windows for sending this wonderful group to the garden!