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

8/19/11

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”
video

8/12/11

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)

video


8/10/11

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)
video
 

8/9/11

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!

8/5/11

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:      http://www.linknot.com/Magic-Garden/Monarch-chrysalis.htm  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)

video



8/4/11

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!

8/1/11

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!