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


No Record Breaking Crop, but Record Breaking Workers!

Back Row L to R:  Eric Situmbeko, David Sparks and Dave Krueger
Front Row L to R:   Annie Lanzen,  Katie Tjader and Kayla Krueger
(Click on any photo to enlarge)
This is the third summer that a crew from Andersen Corporation has come to the Giving Garden to volunteer. 

Last year, on August 22nd, they broke a four year record by harvesting 363 lbs of produce on one afternoon!  (Click here to read the story from 2012).  While this was not a record breaking day in pounds of produce harvested, this group is always record breaking with their work ethic and wonderful spirit.

What besides dinosaurs is Extinct?

Before digging into the day’s project list, we took time to talk a little about what, other than dinosaurs, is extinct?  Dave was on target with his guess of ‘plants’.

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. 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 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 also talked about the fact that the RCS Giving Garden is a supporter of Seed Savers Exchange.  All of our seed crops were planted from heirloom seeds from this organization.


Seed Savers Exchange, is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, their members have been passing on garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners.   Their mission is to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.  A few examples of the type of seeds we planted from Seed Savers are; purple beans, dragon carrots, and rainbow swiss chard!


We also provided a handout for “Something to try at Home”.  Did you know you can save money on your grocery bill by reorganizing your fridge?
Most fruits and vegetables generate ethylene gas while they ripen. Why should you care? This gas is a very active plant hormone, and if you don't get organized, it can get busy with your vegetables and jack up your monthly grocery bill. Leafy vegetables are very sensitive to ethylene, even in very low quantities. Lettuce, for example, begins to decay when exposed to ethylene gas at low temperatures, i.e. even in your refrigerator! Products sensitive to ethylene gas, such as broccoli and bananas, will spoil quickly if stored in the same areas as avocados, melons, and apples, which are ethylene producers. So if you want to be smart; get segregating! Keep your veggies apart and make your food last longer.


The last handout was relative to the first project of the day, tomato suckers.  Tomato suckers, or side shoots, are the growth that appears in the “V” between the stem and a branch. (See photo at right.) If left to grow, they will become another main stem with branches, flowers, fruit and more suckers of their own.

Why is Pruning Recommended?

Pruning tomato suckers is sometimes recommended because the resulting new stem is competing for nutrients with the original plant. You may be getting more fruits if you leave the suckers to grow, but the fruits will be smaller and the plant will be more cumbersome. Pruning tomato suckers is really just thinning the plants.


We had several projects for the Andersen crew today, and they finished all of them and were still looking for more!

What did they accomplish?
-         Pinching off all of the tomato suckers
-         Cutting the diseased leaves off of the plants that have Powderly Mildew
-         Used soap and water to take care of our nuisance visitors, the Japanese Beetles and squash bugs
-         Finished setting up the squash structures for the plants to climb
-         Harvested; Purple Beans, Cabbage, Cucumber, Kale, Raspberries, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Tomatoes and Zucchini!


 Year after year, this group never ceases to amaze us with not only their hard work, but their approach to volunteering.  Always smiling, full of great questions, and bringing with them a sense of community that any corporation would be proud to have representing them.

 “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy.  You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”  ~Author Unknown
 Thank you Eric, David, Dave, Annie, Katie and Kayala!

- Contributing writer, Joni Fletty, RCS