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

7/25/12

Sweating Angels Set New 2012 Daily Picking Record! 85.75 lbs!


Lauryn, Kati, Robb, Jeff, Christine, Charlene, and Cata
(Click on any photo to enlarge)


I've seen and met angels wearing the disguise
of ordinary people living ordinary lives.
~Tracy Chapman

Today was one of the most humid days of the year, but the Summer Stretch group from Woodbury Episcopal Church put a lot of “sweat” into the garden!  This group was not only engaged, but as the pictures above show - fun, fun, fun to work with!!!

We talked about the Giving Garden, of purple green beans and how zucchini has more potassium than bananas…. But we talked about the extinction of so many vegetable and fruit varieties. Did you know that 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?

Christine with an Heirloom Tomato!
 It use to be that people ate 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 hybrid 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.

We all know about the extinction of animals, but few people realize that plant species are dying out at an alarming weight. Heirloom gardeners, through growing and saving seeds of treasured crops, are ensuring that these plants won't become extinct. In addition, keeping diversity in our food chain protects us against large plagues or crop failures.

What is Heirloom? Heirloom vegetables and fruit are old, open-pollinated, and mostly non-hybrid. Some heirlooms are hundreds of years old, and others originated around the turn of the 20th century. One of the places you can purchase a wide variety of heirloom seeds is through Seed Savers (click to visit website).  Seed Savers is an organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds.

Each year in the Giving Garden we have tried to introduce a new heirloom vegetable or fruit (like tomatoes) to the garden. The first year we introduced a few varieties of heirloom tomatoes such as SunGolds and Brandywine tomatoes. The second year we introduced an heirloom variety of white eggplant. Last year we included heirloom lettuce and finally this year we planted purple beans and dragon carrots.

Other reasons to grow Heirlooms:

Jeff harvesting cabbage
  • Wider Variety. When you have access to plants that were grown by previous generations, you also get to experience the thrill of having a huge variety of plants available to you. For example, the Seed Savers Exchange, which deals solely in heirlooms, has had as many as 77 varieties of tomatoes in their catalog. Unless you have acreage, it would take years just to try them all. And among those 77 varieties is every color, size, and flavor of tomato imaginable.
     
  • Better Flavor. In many cases, hybridizers have chosen properties like disease resistance and heavy yields over flavor. Fans of heirlooms will argue that many of the best tasting crops come from heirloom plants.
     
  • Biogenetic Diversity. Because plant species are dying out at an alarming weight, heirloom gardeners, through growing and saving seeds of treasured crops, are ensuring that these plants won't become extinct. In addition, keeping diversity in our food chain protects us against large plagues or crop failures. While hybrid seeds produce disease resistant and heavier yield crops, the seeds the crops produce are sterile and if planted, will not produce.
  • Frugality. Growing heirlooms is a frugal way to have a bountiful garden. Each season, you can grow the crop, harvest the food, save the seeds, and store them to grow next year's garden. If you save a lot of seed, you can even get involved in seed exchanges with other heirloom gardeners to get more diversity in your garden.
The Summer Stretch had the opportunity to harvest the first donation of eggplant from the garden this season! Eggplants aren’t REALLY vegetables, they’re berries. Which isn’t that strange, considering other fruits are commonly mistaken for vegetables – like tomatoes. You can tell if an eggplant is fresh by gently pressing your finger against it. If an eggplant is fresh, when you press your finger against it, the fingerprint will disappear quickly.

Thank you again to an amazing group who pushed through the heat, enjoyed a reprieve in the kitchen to cool off, and donated a new 2012 record of 85.75 lbs of food!

(Click to Enlarge)
Gardening requires lots of water - most of it in the form of perspiration.
~Lou Erickson

(Click to start slideshow of photos!)