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


Azjah vs. The Weeds in the Potato Row - And the Winner is? AZJAH!!!

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We had the most pleasant surprise this morning!

Azjah, daughter of our receptionist Felicia, came to our office to do some volunteer weeding.    Just when we needed help the most, an angel appeared.

We went out to the garden to look at our most challenging area – the potato row.   This is one of the last severely weed choked areas.  Daunting to look at, let alone dig into!

But, you can’t let that great big smile, those sparking eyes, and the polished grace of Azjah fool you - she is tough on weeds!   While weaving through the squash vines that were woven and twisted between the weeds and spilling into the potatoes, she was able to clear a good patch that allowed our potatoes to finally start breathing.  And the potatoes said…  “Ahhhh – that’s better!”

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.   So, Thank you, thank you, thank you Azjah for your victory over a portion of the potato weeds and 'giving' to this giving garden! 

You are a Phenomenal Woman!

… and speaking of Phenomenal Woman, In the words of one of my favorite authors and humanitarians who wrote a book of the same title, "Phenomenal Woman", I will share a quote of hers about volunteering

“I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands.  You need to be able to throw something back.”  ~Maya Angelou
   -         - Contributing writer, Joni Fletty


Adventure Club Undeterred by Rain!

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It rained that morning, but the Adventure Club volunteers were undeterred and ready to harvest vegetables!

And we found so many to harvest- broccoli, beans, beautiful purple eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, turnips and the first ripe spaghetti squash -  over 38 pounds in all!
When we picked the turnips, we noticed that some of them had flowers and very small bulbs. They had bolted, which means that all of the plant’s energy went into producing seeds. 
When a turnip – or any other vegetable- has bolted, it is no longer good to eat.  So we pulled all of the turnips that had bolted.

We also checked out the sweet corn, and can hardly wait until those ears are ready to pick.
Thank you to all of our Adventure Club volunteers!

- Liz Nordling, Washington County Master Gardener Intern


New 2014 Daily Harvest Record Set by Woodbury Peaceful Grove Summer Stretch!

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104 Pounds of produce was harvested and brought to Valley Outreach by the Woodbury Peaceful Grove Summer Stretch program students.
The cucumbers and zucchini were definitely ready to be harvested.
  The students and their advisor also spent time weeding the lettuce section of the garden and weighed the produce. 
They were able to bring it to Valley Outreach where it will feed many through their local food shelf.

The weather was great – as was the pleasant volunteers that made it possible. 

 - Joy Grognet, Retail Construction Services, Inc.


SPIN kids, Strawberries, Honey, Bees and Chomp!

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We enjoyed a visit to the garden by the SPIN kids on Friday!  

Master Gardener and beekeeper, Kathi McMahon, shared some fun facts about honeybees and their role in pollinating our garden plants such as yummy strawberries!

She let us taste crackers with sweet honey made by her very own honeybees!  Kathi also brought milkweed with monarch eggs and a day-old monarch butterfly.  As soon as she released the orange beauty, it flew to a squash flower for a drink.  Master Gardener Kathy L. then showed this group of kids how to hand-pollinate squash flowers as the bees and butterflies do!
 I'm pretty confident bees don't use q-tips, however!

Today's harvest yielded cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, beans, zucchini, carrots and banana peppers.  The kids were awesome!
 I particularly enjoyed the youngest boy of the group enthusiastically smelling the fresh scent of a bush bean.  When I gave him permission to snap one open and taste it, he munched his way through that bean, claimed it to be tasty and proceeded to munch through some more!
Gardening with kids is such a worthy investment!

Thank you Retail Construction Services for making this teaching garden a reality!

Check out the photo of the SPIN kids surrounding Chomp the Carrot representing the area's POWER UP campaign!  Can you see the three carrots we harvested?
Check it out at: 

- Contributed by Master Gardener Kathy Luoma


What happens to weeds when they meet an energetic group from Christ Episcopal Church?

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What happens to weeds when they meet an energetic group from Christ Episcopal Church? They get pulled!  Now our rows of peppers, eggplant and broccoli don’t have to compete with those weeds, and they have room to grow. 
The raspberries are ripe!  We got to pick them (and maybe taste a few), as well as lots of cucumbers, zucchini, beans (both green and purple), turnips and cabbage.  All together, we picked 40 pounds of produce! 
We learned what happens to green broccoli if isn’t picked on time – it turns into yellow flowers and is no longer good to eat.
So, we cut off the flowers and could see some new green broccoli shoots coming on the plants.  We’ll be sure to pick that broccoli before it blooms.
While we were picking the green beans, we found a small green frog on the leaves, and he didn't hop away when we got close to him. We also found some very twisted green beans!

Thank you to our volunteers!

- Liz Nordling, Washington County Master Gardener Intern


Polar Vortex in July?

Junior Master Gardener Ryan and I bundled up on this 57 degree windy July (yes, July!) morning and tackled some serious harvesting!  We determined that some of the turnips were large enough to pick.  

We chose to pull those that were crowding others to give them some space to grow. We both decided that the turnips were our favorite veggie to harvest!  Nothing like tugging free a beautiful globe-shaped purple and white edible root!

Cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce and purple beans were ripe for harvesting, too!  We only picked one veggie that had been dinner for a critter (see photo)!  Check out the curly-cue purple beans Ryan found as well! 
We did some observation of the plants that produced the odd-shaped beans and found them to be a bit smaller with mottled leaves.  I suspect a bean leaf virus possibly spread by aphids but I need to do some further investigating. 

Hmmm…when I’m not sure what’s wrong with my plants, I often consult the
U of MN Extension Garden diagnostic site.

Contributed by Master Gardener Kathy Luoma


"Time For Me ELC" Kids, Armed with Umbrella's, Tackle Bees and Butterflies!!

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There was a parade of umbrellas on Laverne Street as the kids from Time For Me ELC braved the wet morning to learn about Honey Bees and Butterflies from Bee Keeper and Master Gardener Kathi McMahon!

With the help of her honey bee and butterfly puppets, Kathi introduced the kids to two pollinators.  She then read a wonderful book called “The Beeman” by Laurie Krebs and Valeria Cis.  Told from the viewpoint of a child whose Grandpa is a beekeeper, this rhyming text offers an accessible and engaging introduction to the behavior of bees. You will learn where they live, how honey is made, what a beekeeper does, and more!
Miss Kathi, WC Master Gardener and Bee Keeper! 
We were all treated to a surprise!  Kathi brought in a clear plastic container with fresh honey combs from her hives along with LIVE bees!   Everyone got to pass around  the container and watch the bees very close up and still be very safe. 

Kathi taught them something to say over and over again if they are by bee:  “If you don’t bother them, they won’t bother  you”!

We also learned that if you are stung by a honey bee, the honey bee will die after stinging you.  So they really DON’T want to sting you!

Kathi brought an amazing assortment of tools that bee keepers use to allow the kids to touch, feel and pass around.  First we got to see a bee keepers suit.  The friendly beekeeper might have the best interest of his or her bees in mind, but the bees don’t seem to always see it that way. Protective clothing makes beekeeping a lot more enjoyable when the bees take exception to having the roof popped off and their home rummaged through by a human.  Also the brush she uses to gently wipe the bees off of the the hive.

Next was the smoker!  The fact that smoke calms bees has been known since ancient times; however, the scientific explanation was unknown until the 20th century and is still not fully understood. Smoke masks alarm pheromones which include various chemicals, that are released by guard bees or bees that are injured during a beekeeper's inspection. The smoke creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the beehive and work while the colony's defensive response is interrupted.

We then got to look at and try on the bee keepers gloves!

Gloves keep the bee keepers safe from being stung.  Kathi told us that when bee keepers get very good at what they do, many of them no longer were the gloves.

Then we got to feel and touch a frame that the bees had deposited some honey on.  We got to see how bees are very, very good at making shapes.  Each honey comb is a "perfect" hexagon, meaning all six sides are of equal length.  Click on the following link to read more!

Another interesting fact that we learned:  Did you know that Honey Bees dance?  They do!  It is called the Waggle dance, and it is a way for bees to give direction to flower fields and as well as a new home!  It’s a natural GPS system.  See this link for more information:
Kathi brought all kind of honey for the kids to look at.  They were all different colors because they came from different flower!

Next everyone got to see the bee hive that Kathi brought with her and how it is set up.  Here is a link to more information.

Did you know that in the winter time, a bee hive stays about 92 Degrees?!   Also, bee’s like a very clean hive, so in the winter, they don’t go potty in the hive.  They hold it until a nice day.  Then the whole swarm goes out, goes potty, and comes back in.  Amazing!

We also got to see the screened box that honey bees are transferred in if hey com from California.
After the lesson, the skies were clear!  Kathi had brought some Monarch Butterflies that had just hatched and were ready to be set free.  We took them outside, and the kids got the chance to let the butterflies fly away and enjoy their new lives.

Thanks again Kathi for giving everyone the most wonderful lessons on honey bees and butterflies!
 - Joni Fletty, Retail Construction Services, Inc.