Food bank welcomes bounty from gardens gone overboard

July 23, 1993|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,Staff Writer

You've sliced, diced, steamed and baked. You've made salads and muffins and casseroles and more salads. You've canned enough to last through the winter . . . of 1996. Face it: You're a gardener gone amok.

But this summer, your back-yard bounty need not go to waste, even after you've run through all 101 things to do with zucchini. Every Monday and Wednesday morning for the next three weeks, you can drop off your extra produce at five locations in the area, and the Maryland Food Bank will make sure it gets to the homeless and the hungry.

"They generally get processed foods, cereals, baked goods," says William Ewing, executive director of the food bank. "They say, 'Strive for five [servings of produce a day]' -- that is pretty unrealistic for most poor people in the city."

The idea for the program, dubbed "Gardenshare," came from Gus Lundquist, 66, a retired teacher and avid gardener who decided last year that enough was enough.

"I thought, 'What am I going to do with all these vegetables?' I can't eat them all, and yet there are people going hungry," says Mr. Lundquist, who lives in Linthicum. "I thought, suppose there were pick-up spots around Baltimore where people on their way to work could drop off their vegetables."

He wrote Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke about his idea, and the mayor's office contacted the food bank, a nonprofit group that distributes 10 million pounds of food every year throughout Maryland and Delaware.

Mr. Lundquist worked with the group to arrange for volunteers, trucks and drop-off sites, and he's hoping the response of fellow gardeners will warrant continuing the program beyond this year's test period. He's already thinking bigger and better: HTC Maybe an Eastern Shore canning company will donate its facilities to preserve extra produce for the winter. Maybe Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy will hear about it and tell President Clinton about it. Maybe the president will start his own garden at the White House. Maybe Chelsea . . .

For now, Mr. Lundquist is just hoping that area gardeners will donate their tomatoes and peppers and, yes, even their zucchini.

The program also needs more volunteers and trucks to help with loading and transporting produce, he says. Call the Maryland Food Bank at (410) 947-0404 for more information. Volunteers will take your donations from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Aug. 11 at these locations:

* Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Russell Street service drive

* Hunt Valley Mall, off Shawan Road

* Golden Ring Mall

* Woodlawn High School, at Woodlawn Drive and Security Boulevard

* Westinghouse, West Parking Lot, Linthicum

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