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Farming 4 Hunger asked area farmers to help families in need at the Calvert County Farm Bureau’s annual banquet Friday night, held at the Calvert County Fairgrounds in Prince Frederick.

J. Allen Swann, partner of Swann Farms in Owings who was master of ceremonies Friday night, explained that the agriculture in this county is changing, as he introduced a man who has been trying to do just that since 2010.

Bernie Fowler Jr. founded Farming 4 Hunger Inc. in 2010 with the vision of raising local, fresh produce for area food pantries.

In 2012, Farming 4 Hunger teamed up with Capital Food Bank, Maryland Food Bank, Southern Maryland Food Bank and End Hunger in Calvert County to grow acres of produce for Southern Maryland families in need, Fowler explained.

He said that “never in my wildest dream,” did he think he would be standing in front of a room full of farmers telling them about F4H.

“Just when you think you have everything in life figured out ... you can be brought to your knees in a second,” Fowler said, adding that it can happen to anyone at anytime, “even people in this room.”

Fowler explained that F4H gave about 600,000 pounds of fresh produce to the food banks since the organization’s inception with the help of about 1,500 volunteers in the last two years.

The 2013 season is already being planned for the farms that participate in growing produce for F4H.

Next year, he said, Capital Food Bank said they need 32 million pounds of food, most of which Fowler said they get from North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania and even Canada.

“It only makes sense for them to purchase locally,” he added.

Fowler encouraged farmers in the room to consider giving what they aren’t going to sell or use themselves to F4H.

“I’d be glad to talk to anyone and meet with anyone. Now, don’t get me wrong. Don’t drop who you’re selling to. I know selling price is important,” he told the room.

“I’m not asking you to change your farm,” he said. “But please. Consider donating your produce.”

During the meeting, members also received updates about the agriculture community from the bureau’s president, Thomas D. Briscoe, Miss Calvert County Farm Bureau Sarah Manning and Maryland Farm Bureau Vice President Chuck Frye.

aharrison@somdnews.com