Vegetable drive's rocky start

August 02, 1993

We live in a land of plenty.

This is particularly true during the growing season of vegetables and fruit, when even a modest backyard gardener often ends up with more than his or her immediate family can use. Only so much can be given to friends and relations. All too often, plenty of zucchini, tomatoes, yellow squash or other nutritious foods simply goes to waste.

Why couldn't some of that surplus be collected and given to organizations that are feeding the poor and hungry?

This thought had occurred many times to August L. Lundquist. This year, the retired teacher from Linthicum decided to do something about it. He contacted the Maryland Food Bank and set up a network of five drop-off points in the metropolitan area where growers could leave the surplus from their gardens for redistribution.

After just one week, however, the effort is floundering. Except for the Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s BWI complex -- where internal announcements about the drive helped to increase participation -- most of the drop-off sites have flopped. It seems that Mother Nature has also played a trick on the program by providing a wet spring but little rain in mid-season. That means that, if it comes at all, a harvest surplus will be later than usual this year.

"We think it is a good idea and there is a life in it. We just blew it without understanding that the growing season was late," said William Ewing, the food bank's executive director.

Consequently, the drive has now designated Aug. 23 and 25 as the major pick-up dates at the drop-off sites, which are pinpointed by signs and located at the Golden Ring and Hunt Valley malls and Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Westinghouse in Anne Arundel County and at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

This kind of collection of fresh vegetables and fruit is a novel idea, according to activists. Yet it would seem like a natural extension of the canned food drives that the Maryland Food Bank conducts throughout the year.

Through such drives, 10 million pounds of food has been distributed annually throughout the state to 850 generally small, non-profit organizations which feed needy people for free.

We support this effort. It is a painless way for gardeners blessed with plenty to share their bounty. Volunteers -- particularly those with trucks -- are still needed and should call 947-0404.

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