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


The SPIN Kids Are Back!

SPIN Group, Sitting L to R:  Ben, Jacob, Bree, Emmy, Brianna and Faith
Standing L to R:  Brent, Lauren, Hannah and Emma

SPIN Group getting their silly on!

Our morning together was cancelled last week due to the terrible storms that blew through the area. When we got together this week the Giving Garden looked great and the RCS building finally had power again!

Our first order of business was to each choose a row in a section of the garden and call out the crop: Corn! Popcorn! Cucumbers! Potatoes! Carrots! Dragon Carrots!? Dragon carrots are purple outside and orange inside. Also, we learned the difference between sweet corn and popcorn. Sweet corn is picked when the kernels are juicy and popcorn is a variety of corn whose ears stay on the plant until the kernels are dry. The kernels are then pushed off of the cobs and popped up!

We started our work day by harvesting strawberries from the very prolific berry patch. We’re sure our neighbors at Valley Outreach will enjoy these sweet jewels. Very few berries were bad, but we picked them so that the plants continue to flower and make more berries. If we don’t harvest the berries and they go to seed the plants will stop making flowers. The bad berries went to the compost.

Along with vegetables and fruits, the Giving Garden grows herbs and
today we harvested a bounty of basil, parsley and rosemary. Oh, the fragrance! We didn’t cut the plants all the way to the soil so that they will branch out and make more herbs for another harvest. The herbs are planted in beautiful containers at the entry to RCS. Also in the containers are snapdragon flowers. Everybody took turns snapping the dragon’s mouth. Silly fun!

During our harvesting time we all talked about recipes using strawberries or herbs. We also remembered last year when some of us ate chocolate zucchini bread made with zucchini from the Giving Garden. Our stomachs were grumbling and we promised that we would eat a big breakfast before coming next time.

The herbs and berries are packed into plastic berry boxes donated by
friends of the Giving Garden. Everywhere we turn there are signs of how many people care about our communities.

The produce is weighed on a scale in the office so we all went in with our load. Everything was recorded on a log sheet. We all really like the photo collage on the office wall and the workers play good music. We will see you guys soon!

Our lesson was about soil and mulch so we headed back to the garden. Soil is minerals and organic matter on the surface of the earth where plants grow. It provides plants with nutrients, water and air. There have to be spaces between the matter for water and air. Our example was a kitchen sponge with a scrubby side. The sponge side has holes, like good soil and the scrubby side is compacted and crusty, like bad soil. We talked about compaction and that we only walk on garden paths to keep pore space open.

An “ah-ha moment” came during the lesson: When talking about soil erosion the term “deposition” came up: Deposition is what happens when water moves soil and rocks and deposits them somewhere. Quite a bit of erosion and deposition happened during the recent rain, we think. The kids remembered these terms from school!

Enough talking – it was time to get dirty! We put on garden gloves and untied bales of mulch that we carried to the paths in the garden. We spread it nice and thick to keep down weeds and stop erosion. We stomped on the mulch for good measure to keep in in place. We also took a moment to watch a doe and fawn run through the field across the street. Had they been watching us?

After cleaning up our supplies and talking about what we would like to learn next time, it was time for good-byes. These hard workers needed to deliver their produce to the folks at Valley Outreach. The kids noted that the strawberries and herbs are for families that don’t have money. With that being said, the Giving Garden accomplishes its goal!

- Contributing Writer - Master Gardener Phyllis