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


Victoria’s Veggie’s!

Victoria worked hard at the garden today as well!  She is the ultimate go-getter and photographer.  Zucchini is her veggie of choice for today!  

Here are her words.

Zucchini tastes great!  I have three easy recipes to share.

1--Zucchini and Ranch Dip
            Cut zucchini in circle slices and dip in Ranch dressing!  Easy!
2--Zucchini Salad
            Ingredients:zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, Ranch or Caesar salad dressing
    Cut the zucchini in circle slices and then chop them into smaller pieces.  Don’t peel the zucchini.  Toss with lettuce and cut up tomatoes.  Top with Ranch or Caesar dressing.  Use the one you like better. 
3-- Ants on a Zucchini Log
            Ingredients:  zucchini, peanut butter, Sunmaid raisins
     Cut the zucchini in longs strips.  Spread peanut butter on the zucchini.  Place the raisins on top of the peanut butter. 

--Kathy Luoma, Washington County Master Gardener

Junior Master Gardeners and Friends Return Like Old Pros!

Junior Master Gardeners
(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Many tasks were completed this morning in the garden by a group of experienced Junior Master Gardeners and friends! 
We began our morning observing the large, open flowers on the yellow summer squash and zucchini plants to find out which were male and female.  Then we got out the Qtips and gently captured the pollen on the male stamen and transferred it to the female pistil...just like our pollinator friends do each day while on their foraging trips!

Speaking of pollinator friends, the two monarch caterpillars I shared with the kids last week have transitioned to their chrysalis stage. They will remain there for 10-14 days.   See the photo!

Harvested today was zucchini, yellow squash, basil, lettuce, kale, cucumber, broccoli and pepper for a total of 9 pounds.  Then we took on some weeding in our 14 rows of corn.  Weeding is usually the least favorite task of any gardener I know, but not these helpers!

  I didn’t hear one complaint!  They certainly deserved their watermelon treat at the end of our session!

Thanks for your help today!
--Kathy Luoma, Washington County Master Gardener

In a Gentle Way...

"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."

Mahatma Gandhi 

Victoria, our new food blogger!
This past Friday, Washington County Master Gardener, Kathy Luoma, brought her friend, Victoria, to the RCS Teaching Giving Garden.   Victoria loves all types of veggies and fruit and was full of ideas on how people could enjoy eating and serving the fresh produce.  In the span of spending 30 minutes weeding with her, she shared so much information, that the natural connection was to ask her if she would like to post her own food stories on the blog.  By doing this, she could share these not only the youth coming to the garden, but their parents and our volunteers.

And her answer?  "YES!"

We are so excited that Victoria will be contributing, on an on-going basis, her tips, recipes, and thoughts on healthy eating.  This perspective, from a young person's point of view, will be a very valuable asset to our blog.

The RCS Teaching Giving Garden thanks Victoria for shaking up our blog a bit more with this new food contribution!  We look forward not only to the energy and that great smile you bring to the garden, (and all things Ranch), but to your food articles which will be so fun for people to read! 

Welcome, and thank you Victoria!
- Contributed by Joni Fletty


Victoria’s Veggies! New Food Portion of this Blog!

Victoria’s Veggies!

 We welcome Victoria, her helping hands and her love of good food!

IMG_0460.JPGI wish to introduce you to my friend, Victoria.  She recently moved back to Stillwater with her family and is now my neighbor!  Victoria loves kids, so I asked her if she would like to help me at The Giving Garden this summer.  Thankfully, she said YES!  Today Victoria worked hard to stake individual sprinkler heads, weed, water and plant onion sets!

While planting, Victoria shared how much she loves food, food of any kind, fruit and vegetable of any kind...even onions!  So, Victoria is going to start adding her thoughts and ideas on how to eat the fruit and veggies we are growing at the garden.  We are calling her words Victoria’s Veggies! 

Today’s words are about onions!  She says “I like onions raw and cooked!  They taste great on hamburgers and hotdogs and sandwiches.  I really like them cut up into Asian food.  I really like them in LeeAnn Chin dishes! They always taste good dipped in Ranch dressing!”  Here’s a link to many recipes that star onions!  I’m sure Victoria would love all of them!  Thanks, Victoria!  Thank you also to Bergmann’s Greenhouse for donating the onion sets!

--Kathy Luoma, Washington County Master Gardener

Welcome back, Adventure Club kids!

Before the Andersen Picnic Tables were donated
AFTER the Andersen Picnic Tables were donated!

A picture-perfect morning awaited the kids from the Stillwater Area School District’s Adventure Club summer program!  Thanks teachers Tammy and Melissa for all of your help today!

Before we started our work, I introduced the kids to my two new friends, the monarch caterpillars!  I’m a bit of a monarch fanatic and am doing my small part to help increase the declining population of monarch butterflies, our important pollinator friends, by
planting milkweed which is their host plant and finding eggs to raise and release.  If you have never seen a monarch go from tiny egg to a large striped caterpillar to a light green chrysalis to a majestic orange butterfly, you don’t know what you are missing!  Check out this video!
*The Monarch Lifecycle

Then we divided ourselves into three groups to tackle our work!  
Group 1 used scissors to cut lettuce and herbs to donate to Valley Outreach.
Group 2 weeded and replanted pumpkin seeds where we had a few fail in our new pumpkin patch.
Group 3 weeded the Short-n-Sweet carrot row using forks and weeding tools to carefully pull the weeds around the feathery foliage.  

We ended our day with drinks of water from the hose followed by a watermelon snack on our newly donated PICNIC TABLES!!!!  Thank you Andersen Corp!  

--Kathy Luoma, Washington County Master Gardener


The Generous Helping Hands of Andersen Corp.

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
Back row (L-R) Scott Thom, Charlie Felmlee, Megan Hogen, Rob Logghe, Craig Jansen, 
Mark Schlicht, Kale Westby, Larry Mollan, Tim Sonsalla
Front row (L-R): Lynn Berry, Randy Schreiner, Vince Radecke, Dan Proulx and Rob Martineau

"You will discover that you have two hands.
One is for helping yourself
and the other is for helping others." 
- Audrey Hepburn 

(L-R):  Rob Logghe, Randy Schreiner
and Charlie Felmlee assembling
one of the picnic tables.
Rob Logghe and Lynn Berry
delivering the picnic tables
The Supply Chain Services Team at Andersen Corp. had a picnic today.  But this was no ordinary picnic!  This amazing group of people made two picnic tables for the youth and volunteers to use at the RCS Teaching Giving Garden.  Can you say Wow!

This partnership with Andersen Corp. goes back to 2010 when they first started volunteering to harvest in this garden.  Twice each fall they have come out with a team to harvest not only produce, but put the weeds that are a package deal with gardens!

Adventure Club Kids "before" the picnic tables
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the summer, youth education lessons are given in the garden.  The kids have either sat on the parking lot curb, or in the grass on blankets for their lessons.  This made it difficult when those lessons involved an activity.

Adventure Club Kids now with picnic tables!
Now with these picnic tables, they will have a place not only for their lessons, but a place to sit and enjoy their cold watermelon after a morning of hard work in the garden!

We are adding a couple of before picnic tables and after picnic tables photos so that you can see just a few of the lives you touched with this gift.  Please see the post that will go up for 06/26/15 with the kids story!

This quote is from one of our Master Gardener teachers, Kathy Luoma:  "I've been teaching groups of kids at the RCS Teaching Giving Garden for a few years and have always thought it would be so nice to have a table or two to sit at while we share our lessons or eat a snack.  Thank you for your generous donation Andersen Corp!  Sure beats the parking lot curb!"

A sincere thank you to this group at Andersen Corp.  These picnic tables are more than a place to sit.
With this season and the seasons to come, they will hold memories of lessons learned, laughter, gross bug and food stories, vegetable tastings, worm composting, hard earned sweat, sticky honey during the honey harvest, lots of garden dirt and oh yes, watermelon stains!

You made such a big difference with this donation, and the kids were very, very happy!

- Contributed by Joni Fletty


Woodbury UMC Summer Stretch Plant Donated Peppers

Click on any photo to enlarge
This morning 6 Summer Stretch kids from the Woodbury UMC came to help in the garden.  Our two big tasks were planting some ornamental peppers and weeding the carrots.  The peppers had been donated by the Hugo Feed Mill and the instructions were to plant them in a certain order (we think by color).  We spent some time putting them into that order in their little pots and then getting them into the garden in that order.  

Then we tackled the carrots, which had to be both weeded and thinned.  We used plastic forks to help loosen the weeds, but some of those weeds were too tough for the forks and they broke.  But we had perseverance and hand pulled those nasty weeds and gave those carrots space to grow.
We finished by having some delicious watermelon – Yum!

- Submitted by Liz Nordling, Washington County Master Gardener


U of M Seed Trail Rows at the Garden

Deb Lynch - Washington County Master Gardener
Click on any photo to enlarge
Yellow Patty Pan Squash
Asian Greens - Green Mustard

Since 1982, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners across the state have volunteered each year to try selected annual vegetable and flower seeds.  This research provides information for gardeners in Minnesota and the upper Midwest by volunteers comparing varieties and sharing their feedback through online resources and published articles.   This year the Giving Garden allocated 2 rows for seed trials: Asian Greens and Patty Pan Squash. Each row has 36 inches of garden space per trial variety and each trial consists of six varieties. This is a blind trial and each pack of seeds was coded so the identify is not known.  Specific instructions on planting the seed, growing the plants and evaluating the results was included in the directions.   We will report to the University of Minnesota Master Gardener Seed Trial program on how well the plants perform, number of vegetables per plant, flavor, etc. as summer progresses.  All produce not "tasted" will be donated to Valley Outreach. We will also use the trial, plants and vegetables for teaching projects with our young volunteers.
So far the patty pan squash plants are growing very well and the Asian Greens were replanted last week due to weather.  Watch the blog for more reports!

- Contributed by Deb Lynch - Master Gardener

SPIN Kids Plant Potatoes and Peppers!

Potato Sacks ready to plant!
Click any photo to enlarge
Tammy brought the SPIN kids out to the garden for the first time this season!  They were happy to see familiar faces from past summers on the new posters on the “Doghouse.”  We admired the new raised strawberry structures while we picked a few ripe berries to donate.  Then we tackled the potatoes and peppers, both donations from generous community members.  THANK YOU!

Peggy from Bergmann’s Greenhouse in Stillwater donated seed potatoes for our grow bag experiment.  We planted pink new potatoes and purple potatoes with gnarly-looking eyes in orange grow bags and burlap coffee bean sacks.  Then we covered them with a few inches of soil and placed them at the end of our garden walkways.  As the potatoes grow their foliage we want to add more soil a few times to the bags to keep the new tubers hidden away from sunlight which turns them green and spoils their flavor.  We shall see if the type of grow bag affects the potato growth.  

Steve from Hugo Feed Mill also donated some funky and fun peppers, tomatoes and giant kohlrabi.  The SPIN kids and I planted many of the peppers with fun names such as Fish Pepper, Chocolate Cherry Pepper, Brazilian Star Fish and Hot Sunset, just to name a few!  As hard as it was, we pinched off those that had flowers so that the plant’s energy would go into establishing itself and its roots in the ground.  No worries...they will flower again!

Finally, the kids tackled weeding the beets, and then we enjoyed some delicious watermelon to help us cool down.  I love these kids and the conversations we have!  As we discussed, we ALL have gifts and talents that we bring to this world.  Sometimes those gifts and talents aren’t discovered, noticed or honored until later in life, and sometimes we feel like some gifts and talents get all the credit!  Be patient kids!  If there had been a GATE program for gardeners when I was a young girl, I just know I would have found my passion sooner!

Looking forward to your next visit!

- Kathy Luoma--Washington County Master Gardener