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Bringing a Green Thumb to Campus

Randy, MCTC gardenerRandy Rau likes to get his hands dirty.

As the College’s official gardener and groundskeeper, Randy is the face behind MCTC’s lush, blooming outdoor plaza.

“I’m all self-taught,” he said. “I read a lot of books. I don’t have a degree in gardening—just a general interest and lots of work experience.” Before MCTC, Randy worked at Bachman’s floral headquarters in south Minneapolis, and before that at Gertens Greenhouses.

Continuing his hobby at home, Randy’s hard work won the attention of his like-minded peers in the local Lynnhurst Garden Club. To connect the community to his work at the College, Randy led 16 gardeners on a tour of the recently remodeled outdoor plaza, its flora and rain gardens intended to mitigate stormwater runoff.

“There’s a big divide between how you garden at home and gardening on the level of this college,” said Randy. “Finding the right balance of upkeep and ensuring the diversity of plants winds up being trial and error.”

Gardening is not only Randy’s profession and hobby. It’s also his love.

“My wife and I met when we both worked at Bachmans,” he said. “So we definitely share that interest.”

Last fall, Randy’s expertise landed him a high-profile role: in honor of the College’s Beyond the Yellow Ribbon military support initiative, Randy was asked to select and plant a tree in a prominent spot on the MCTC plaza. He planted a young red oak just above one of the rain gardens, and took part in the ceremony with honor. (See photos from the ceremony here.)

“As an Air Force and Navy reservist, I was proud to be recognized both as a veteran and a gardener,” he said. “Once as a Navy Reservist, I spent eight months in Kuwait. My wife took care of our garden at home while I was gone. I was never so glad to see green as I was when I came home.”

The impeccable upkeep Randy devotes to the College's lush landscape caught the attention of some local experts. Randy’s expertise was tapped by the Lynnhurst Garden Club for a tour of the native plants, and he led 16 active gardeners through the grounds this summer, connecting the current flora with sustainability and aesthetic efforts behind the redesign. Randy later repeated his tour with MCTC faculty, staff, students and community members.

Published August 2015


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