THE GARDEN STORY

Here at Retail Construction Services, Inc., we are dedicated to giving back.

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.
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LOCATION:

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.


The RCS Giving Garden

The RCS Giving Garden

8/31/15

Andersen Corp Harvests 180.3 Pounds!

Andersen Employee's and their 180.3 pound harvest!

Andersen Corporation employees joined us today in a larger harvesting.  180.3 lbs. of produce was harvested, weighed and delivered to the food shelf. The corn crop was at its peak! 

Due to critters in the garden we thought it would be good to harvest all that was ready as not to allow the creatures to get more.  The sun and rain over the weekend gave the crops reason to grow.  They also took the time to remove the cucumber structures, trim the strawberries stems back and fight for raspberries from the bees, and Asian beetles.  Although we did get some raspberries it appears so did they.     

The pumpkins would have added poundage to our harvest today, we admired the looks of them and thought it might be best to let them continue to grow.  All extra hands and feet in the garden are appreciated.  Thank you for giving of your time to help us feed plenty. 

- Contributed by Joy Grognet


8/28/15

Sylvia and Natalie Conquer a Load of Weeds!

Sylvia and Natalie and the conquered weeds!
Before...
AFTER!
Sylvia and Natalie had one large harvest today - weeds!  The before and after pictures of the area they weeded shows how hard they worked to keep this organic garden weed free.

Thank you so much gals for your volunteer time and uncovering our turnips and Asian Greens!

Hauling the weeds to the woods!

8/27/15

Andersen Corp: Staining, Building & Harvesting!

Andersen Corp employee who came for harvest, stain
the picnic tables they previously donated,
and built benches! 
Today was a very productive day pulling weeds and cleaning up our garden.  

Andersen Corporation employees came and stained the picnic tables they donated earlier this year, and also assembled and donated 2 outdoor benches to the garden! 

This will allow the students a place to sit when they are being taught about gardening in the Giving Garden.  They enjoyed giving of their time on a pretty warm day.  

30 lbs was picked and brought to Valley Outreach.  

Thank you so much for your continued support in our garden.
  

- Contributed by Joy Grognet

8/26/15

RCS Teaching Giving Garden Green Apple Partner

Article Courtesy of USBGC Minnesota

Featured

Green Apple Day of Service is coming soon!  Green Apple gives youth, parents, teachers, school staff, companies, and organizations the opportunity to help transform all our schools into healthy, safe, cost-efficient and productive learning places through community-based service projects in stewardship to the earth.

Join USGBC-MN and our Green Apple partner Retail Construction Services, Inc. (RCS) for our MN GREEN APPLE 2015 challenge - School Gardens. What if every student learned how to grow food? What would be the impact? With the help of RCS, we’re launching planting and composting projects in schools for Green Apple Days of Service. Help us plant the seed of stewardship with MN students! Take the school garden challenge and sponsor a gardening lesson today. Celebrate GREEN APPLE 2015 with us!
Get inspired by the full story here and learn more about becoming involved.


    

8/25/15

Victoria's Ripple Impact on the Teaching Garden!


Victoria, our 2015 Assistant Teacher in the Teaching Giving Garden
I had written this to Victoria earlier this year after observing her and hearing her passion about working in this Teaching Giving Garden;

Victoria,

Have you ever seen a pebble dropped in a pond or a lake?  It sends out ripples that keep expanding out further and further, eventually reaching all the way to the other side.

Like a pebble hitting the water, every action we do in this world makes a difference.

You are like that pebble in our Teaching Giving Garden...
Victoria, on behalf of the RCS Teaching Giving Garden, "Thank You" for all of your hard work, for the impact you have had on the youth coming to learn at this garden, for sharing your infection smile, and for that ripple you brought and spread in this community!

We are sad to see you go back to school, but know you will be back to visit the garden soon!

- Contributed by Joni Fletty




A Bugs’-Eye View!

A Time for Me tots in the Teaching Giving Garden one last time!
We welcomed back the little ones from the Time For Me Preschool along with their teachers, Elise and Katie, for their final visit to the garden for the 2015 season.  

On their last visit, I promised them that the next time they joined me the corn would tower over their heads, and were we ever right!  Twisting off ripe ears of corn along with cucumbers, squash, beans, peppers, tomatoes and eggplant were some of the harvesting highlights of the day!  


BUGS, helpful and not-so-helpful, were our topic of the day!  We named helpful bugs to our garden such as honeybees, butterflies and lady beetles.  Then we looked at some damage the not-so-helpful bugs do to the plants in our garden by critters like squash bugs, aphids, cabbage worms and Japanese Beetles.  

We identified holes and brown spots and chew marks in leaves and fruit.  It’s amazing what insects one notices when getting down to the level of a four year-old!  In addition to the bugs mentioned above, wasps, bumblebees, slugs, grasshoppers and ants caught our eyes’ attention!  We can’t forget to mention the darling amphibian green tree frog friends we found along the way as well.  


To remember the day with  take home decor for their own their own garden spaces, the kids decorated stones to resemble beneficial insects.  Check out their cute creations!  They also left with a THANK YOU vase of Teddy Bear Sunflowers to place in their school.  I reminded them that their hands planted these seeds early in the season for all to enjoy.  I believe a little red lady beetle tagged along for the walk, too!


Tiny hands can do great things!  You helped Victoria and I harvest 193 pounds of produce!  See you next season and thanks for your help!

-contributed by Kathy Luoma, Master Gardener

8/20/15

"What I spent, I had; what I saved, I lost; what I gave, I have.”

– Author Unknown

This coming week, with the fast approaching school year, our youth educational lessons will come to an end.  It is during this time of year, and until the garden ceases to yield, that this Teaching Giving Garden reaches out to our corporate partners and community volunteers to help with the harvest the bounty and taming the weeds.

The Teaching Giving Garden welcomed four amazing volunteers to the garden today.  Kaeli Murphy and Natalie Zinn (juniors at Stillwater High School) and Mariah Johnson (a senior at Stillwater High School) along with Sylvia Ivey Zinn,

Joy from our office shared the story of this Teaching Giving Garden to acquaint these new volunteers with not only its story, but its purpose.  She also introduced them to the weeds that needed to part ways with the veggies they were invading!  Keeping up with weeds in an organic garden is an on-going task, but one that also allows you to connect with nature, get your hands dirty, and enjoy the outdoors.

Joy shared that ... "we weeded in the first section of the garden.  The sun was high, the breeze felt wonderful and  we spent time discussing the garden, the produce and where it goes."

"These volunteers also volunteer at Valley Outreach, the same food shelf where all of our produce is donated, and that is how they found out about us.  After weeding we took the weeds out back to the weed pile in the woods.  They really cleaned up the section they were in.  Many helping hands makes the job go faster and the outcome looks great!"

Thank you Sylvia, Kaeli, Natalie and Mariah for helping us win the war on weeds!


8/19/15

RCS Teaching Giving Garden recognized as Green Apple Inspiration!



RCS Teaching Giving Garden recognized as Green Apple Inspiration!  Click link to read full story!


A Rainy Day Harvest!

Due to rain, our friends couldn't make it to the garden, so Victoria and I put up our hoods and went to work!  The  many varieties of tomatoes we grow are at their peak!  So far, I believe the French heirloom 'Jaune Flamme' are the most uniform in size, most crack resistant, and most tasty! 

Thanks for enduring the rain with me, Victoria! 
--contributed by Master Gardener Kathy Luoma

8/18/15

A Helping Hand and a Green Thumb!

Click to enlarge and read
Kathy Luoma has been our lead Master Gardening teacher and coordinator at the RCS Teaching Giving Garden for several years.  She and her family were recently recognized in the Stillwater Neighbors August 2015 Publication.  The story also speaks to their extensive involvement with this garden.  Click on each page to enlarge and read.  
If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.  
If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.  
If you want to touch the future, touch a life.  
~Author Unknown

Kathy, Eric, Maddie and Elise, thank you for everything you have contributed to the RCS Teaching Giving Garden!






8/17/15

Honey Harvest!

A.J. Moses
Addie, aspiring beekeeper!
Our group of Jr. Master Gardeners did not make it to the garden today.  So, we made an announcement and invited our staff to come out and enjoy the honey harvest lesson!  Some of the staff took turns using the hot knife to remove the was caps before spinning the honey out.

The Fume Board Stinks!
We not only learned so much about harvesting honey, but A.J. and his assistant Addie brought tasting sticks with them and we all got a chance to taste the fresh honey!

Below is a description of harvesting honey from A.J.!

"As summer wanes, beekeepers efforts turn to harvesting surplus honey from their hives.   With traditional Lanstroth hives the process involves evacuating the bees from their surplus boxes – called honey supers – uncapping the stored honey, spinning the frames in a centrifuge and finally filtering out wax particles that invariably find their way into the extracted honey.

Evacuating the bees can be done a couple of ways.  We used a ‘fume board’ – a framed piece of fabric sprayed with a smelly liquid; brand name is Honey Robber, or Butyric.  It smells bad and the bees are driven down from the honey supers at the top of the hive into lower boxes.  

Another method uses a bee brush.  The beekeeper uses a little smoke to distract the bees, then she/he pulls one frame at a time and simply brushes the bees away before placing the frame into a separate box.  
Honey robber works best at temperatures above 75 degrees.  Cooler temps mean using a bee brush – a little slower but still effective.

Honey supers containing frames are taken to a site away from the hive to keep the bees from finding and raiding the honey.  The comb is uncapped, placed into the extractor, (centrifuge), and spun to extract the honey from one side of the frame.  The frames are turned 180 degrees to allow extraction from the other side.

Finally, the honey is drained from the extractor through a series of filters to ensure particles of wax are removed before the honey is bottled."


- Contributed by A.J. Moses - Beekeeper and Master Gardener