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


RCS Teaching Giving Garden added to the FamilyMeans Garden Tour
This is FamilyMeans’ 23nd annual St. Croix Garden Tour taking place on July 11 and July 12. This year’s self-guided tour will feature seven gardens throughout Stillwater and the surrounding areas. The gardens have been tended to anywhere from six years to as long as 44 years!

Tickets are $15 per person if purchased in advance; tickets are $20 per person the weekend of the event. Children ages 12 and younger are free.

To purchase your ticket, call FamilyMeans at (651) 439-4840 or go online to
The St. Croix Garden Tour event proceeds support FamilyMeans, a nonprofit that provides counseling and mental health services; grief and loss therapy; collaborative divorce; financial counseling services; caregiver support; youth enrichment programs; and an employee assistance program. FamilyMeans provides support to more than 23,000 people each year.


Too Beat to Plant the Beets Day!

On planting day, we were too beat to plant the beets, so this Saturday was beet day.  Arriving at the garden I found that 50% of our landscape fabric had been pulled up by the wind from the storm the night before.  With a rubber mallet and more landscape pins, everything was put back in place and secured.

Our beets this year were planted in a 1' row, staggered in a zig zag pattern to double our crop production.  They were very happy to stretch their roots into that moist soil!  While the sprinkler was turned on to give the beets and extra drink, it was time to check on the rest of the garden. 

The strawberries are loving their new home and lots of green berries are appearing. 

Kathy Luoma has stopped out at the garden to check on the tomato plants - they look amazing!  These will be planted on June 2nd by the Jr. Master Gardening youth.  They will also be planting the pumpkin patch on that day.   The basil is doing very well in the widow box and the plants in the garden were also doing very well.

Lakeview Foundation has been a supporter of this Teaching Giving Garden.  Their PowerUp program donated farmer "Chomp", their mascot, to stand at the corner of our property, spreading the news of healthy eating.  We have road construction on Lavern Avenue, parallel to our solar panels, and Chomp was leaning forward and had to be straightened out.  He is now ready to greet everyone driving by our garden when the road is completed!

The RCS Teaching Giving Garden is ready for the youth education lessons to begin!  Tuesday, June 2nd, our first group, the Jr. Master Gardening Program will be out, followed by the tiny tots from "A Time for Me" daycare on Thursday, June 4th.

It is going to be a great year!

- Contributed by Joni Fletty


Jean's Sweet Basil, Rosemary Thyme and More!

Jean, from Ivy Rose Design planted our herb crop in the containers outside of our office front door, and on planting day, she returned to plant more sweet basil in the window box on the garden shed.

Jean has taken care of the plants inside of our office for quite a few years.  She has also been an important supporter of the RCS Teaching Giving Garden.

Thank you Jean for all you do for RCS and the Teaching Giving Garden!

Planting Day has Arrived!

"Our lives are to be used and thus to be lived as fully as possible, and truly it seems that we are never so alive as when we concern ourselves with other people."  -- Harry Chapin
Before Planting
After Planting
Planting day arrived!  Our employee volunteers were joined by employees from UPS as well as several Washington County Master Gardeners.  The Krueger's had come the raining day before an tilled the garden one last time before planting.  Beautiful dirt!

The fencing team began with marking out the fence perimeter.  Our garden has lost about two feet of width over the years, so some of
the employees tilled out the additional garden space and squared off the corners of the garden. 

While the fencing team was at work, we reviewed the garden plan with the garden staking team, the planting team and the landscape fabric team.  Plants were pulled from the greenhouse, and our homemade seed tapes were brought together, ready to be placed next to their designated row as they were staked out. 

 The Jr. Master Gardening program, led by Kathy Luoma not only made most of the seed tapes, but they started, from seed, half of the plants for the garden.  The remaining plants came from Costa's Farm and Greenhouse, and the Hugo Feed Mill.  The landscape fabric came from Hedberg Supply.

With the fence perimeter set, the three sections of the garden were quickly laid out, and starting with the corn rows, planting began.  As the planting
teams finished each row, the landscape fabric teams followed right behind. 

It was a beautiful warm day, but as the noon hour approached, it was very warm to be planting!  At the very end, we were all too beat to plant the beets, the only crop not planted today.

The UPS Team
We focused on giving each section of the garden a good watering.  We will not be installing the irrigation system until the seedlings are a few inches high.  That afternoon we had a few employees that touched up paint on some of the garden structures to freshen them up. 

This year, our garden plan has many 1' rows, which will double and triple some of our crops.  We are hoping to hit the goal of 3,000 lbs of produce this year.  Thank you to all of the volunteers who made our 2015 Planting Day such a success!


Thank you Sam Hagen!

We received a most generous donation from one of our traveling Field Superintendents employees, Sam Hagen.  Sam had emailed and said that he checks the Teaching Giving Garden blog often, and wished he could do something to help.  He asked if there was anything we needed.  I told him that we could really used some garden gloves for our volunteers.

Today, a gift card for Menards arrived at our office.  Not only were we able to purchase the gloves for our volunteers, but we were also able to purchase some much needed garden stakes just in time for our planting day!!

Sam, thank you so very much for your support of this garden.  We are very grateful!

"There is no better exercise for strengthening the heart than reaching down and lifting people up."
- John Andres Holmes


Homemade Seed Tape Project Finished!

Making homemade seed tapes.
Watch a great video at the bottom of this story!
We made homemade seed tapes this year!  The Jr. Master Gardening Group made many of the tapes, and during lunch, our employees completed the rest.

Our long seed tapes
Seed tapes are great, but to buy them can be expensive.  They save you time compared to sowing loose seed by hand.  They are quick to sow, removed the guesswork when sowing, it evenly spreads straight lines of plants, prevents wash off of seeds, there are fewer wasted seeds, you get good germination results, and there is less thinning of the seedlings!

What you need:
1 ply toilet paper
Small paint brushes
Flour paste mixed with equal parts water and flour 1:1 ratio
Pen or marker pen
Plastic baggies

Our garden rows are 28' long, and on many of our rows we are tripling our crop plantings, by planting rows that are 1' wide, with three seed tapes for each row.  

For example – “x’s” below indicate seeds in a row.  So, three tapes, per row, and alternated to get maximum production.  When laid out, it will look like this the example to the right:

Seed tapes rolled and ready!
  • We used the brush side of the brush to dab a dot of the flour past.  We used the opposite end to pick up the tiny seeds and put them on the dot.  If you put just a tiny dab of flour past on the opposite end, you could consistently pick up about 3 seeds at a time.  We put about 3 seeds for each dot in case of seed failure.
  • Before rolling up the seed tapes, at the end we marked the name of the crop, how deep to sow them, and how long the seed tape is.  Our conference room table is 10' long, so we would make two 10' tapes and one 8' tape for each row.
  • When the tapes were rolled up, we put them in plastic baggies.  This will keep moisture away from them, and on planting day will be easy to give to the volunteers for each planting row!

- Contributed by Joni Fletty

A Generous Donation!

14237 Julliard Street, Forest Lake, MN  55025 P:  612.220.7410

We received the most generous donation today for the RCS Teaching Giving Garden.  Thank you to Russ and Melanie Newville for their $1,000 donation.  This will go far in not only the produce that will be donated to the Valley Outreach Food Shelf, but also anything needed to sustain this garden and those who come here to learn. 

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert

Thank  you again Russ and Melanie for not only this donation, but for all that you do for your community.  We are so fortunate to to have this great partnership with you!


Giving Garden vs. Hungry Birds and our Strawberries

 Click any photo to enlarge

Birds love strawberries, and who could blame them. Imagine a bird just flying along and spotting, below, bright red, juicy berries!

Weaving together the netting
There are many methods to use to keep birds out of the strawberry patch, but the most effective way to protect them is to use bird netting,

We used 3/8" Pecs plumbing piping to form the loops over the strawberries. Then netting was stretched over the tubing.  The netting was not long enough to reach the entire length of the raised beds, so Curt, Mike L and Mike T had to weave the netting together with fishing line.  

Sliding the clothespins to raise the netting
At the bottom of each tubing, a clothespin is placed over the tubing, making sure to include part of the netting.

In order to weed or harvest the strawberries, all you need to do is to slide the clothespins up the tubing, thereby raising the netting!  See video at the top of this story.

Thank you Curt, Mike and Mike for your work on the netting!!
- Contributed by Joni Fletty

A Very Happy Greenhouse!

The greenhouse is filling up!
(Click on any photo to enlarge)

The seedlings that the Jr. Master Gardening youth have started are making their way into the greenhouse.  It seems that every
day more and more plants arrive.  I was out there early this morning to water, and  it was just so full of color and great earthy smells!

The strawberries in our new raised strawberry beds are really blooming, and I know we owe that to our honey bee's.
 Everything is so green and happy!  The countdown to planting day at 9:00 am on Wed, May 27th has begun.  12 more days, join us if you can!
- Contributed by Joni Fletty

Today is Food Revolution Day 2015

Food Revolution Day Song! Check it out and share it...

Support the Revolution!  Every child has the right to learn to grow their own food, know its value, and what it does for their bodies.


Herbs are Planted!

Click any photo to enlarge
 Jean, from Ivy Rose Design planted our herbs in the pots in front of our building.  Not only will these add a fragrant entrance into our building, but will be welcome additions to bring over to the food shelf with the other produce.

There will be Sweet Basil, Rosemary, Cilantro, Tarragon and Chives.  You can click on the name of each herb to read about cooking tips with them!

Jean, thank you for all you do for RCS!
- Submitted by Joni Fletty


Junior Master Gardeners Preparing Plants for the Garden!

Click on any photo to enlarge!

Look what we are up to! The Junior Master Gardener kids
led by Kathy and Liz learned all about germination while starting many kinds of tomato seeds. Once the seedlings developed some of their true leaves, we transplanted them into larger pots. Now they are basking in the warm light inside the brand new greenhouse at The Giving Garden! Coming soon to the greenhouse will be the cucumbers, summer squash and winter squash.

On a recent cold, sleeting day, the Junior Master Gardeners learned how to make homemade seed tape for small seeds such as carrot, chard, kale, beets and radish! Have you ever planted tiny seeds in your garden just to have them sprout in clumps because they were washed
together or not sprout at all because they were planted too deeply? Seed tape can improve crop yield and make thinning and weeding much easier! Seed tape can be expensive to buy in the stores, especially for the seed amounts we need for a large garden such as this one! All one needs is toilet paper, a flour and water paste, a small paintbrush and seeds! Oh, and a little patience, too!

We are looking forward to getting out to The Giving Garden for the first time to see the garden
when it is set up for the 2015 summer season!

submitted by Master Gardener Kathy Luoma

Foot Note:  Thank you Lakeview Foundation for your donation of our greenhouse!