'Green-thumbers' urged to share backyard bounty with the needy NORTH COUNTY -- Linthicum * Ferndale * Brooklyn Park * Pumphrey

GARDENSHARE: A WINDFALL FOR FOOD BANK

July 19, 1993|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Staff Writer

Gazing at the plot of earth he has often tilled for a vegetable garden, Gus Lundquist's eyes darted over to his neighbor's garden as he spoke of the food a flourishing garden can yield in a good summer's harvest.

His mind drifted back a year, to a time he was standing in his own garden. "I'm standing here in my backyard garden, wondering what I'm going to do with all these vegetables," Mr. Lundquist, a Linthicum resident, recalled.

"I can't give them to my neighbors, because they are trying to give me theirs."

Figuring other gardeners might find themselves in the same predicament after reaping a healthy harvest, Mr. Lundquist thought of a way "green-thumbers" could avoid throwing away their extra yields and help the hungry.

So last June, he wrote to the mayor's Homeless Services Department.

The pitch? How about setting up drop sites around the Baltimore area where folks with extra vegetables from their yards who wanted to help the hungry could easily drop the produce off on their way to work.

That July, Mr. Lundquist got a response.

His letter had been forwarded to William Ewing, executive director of the Maryland Food Bank, a private, nonprofit organization that distributes food and other items to the needy.

Mr. Ewing said the food bank had never thought of anything like that before. But it sounded like a good idea, and Mr. Lundquist was willing to do whatever he could on his end -- like finding volunteers -- to make it work and keep cost at a minimum.

So, starting July 26, Mr. Lundquist's idea -- with the help of the food bank -- will begin as a three-week pilot program called "Gardenshare."

Drop-off sites will be set up at Camden Yards, Golden Ring Mall, Woodlawn High School, Hunt Valley Mall and Westinghouse's West Parking lot in Linthicum.

Volunteers will staff the sites from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. The workers will take the produce and load it onto trucks.

The food bank, which hopes to collect about 1,000 pounds of produce per truck each day, will distribute the goods to soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters throughout Maryland.

If all goes well, Mr. Lundquist said he hopes the program will become annual.

"Don't forget," he said. "When you get ready to plant your garden, plant extra."

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