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Calvert Recorder: 'It's more than growing vegetables'

Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) paid a visit to Farming 4 Hunger in Benedict on Wednesday to present the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award to the nonprofit.

Farming 4 Hunger, based out of Calvert, is located in Charles County and its founder, Bernie Fowler Jr., is a Calvert resident. Fowler was the recipient of the William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award in 2013. The award is presented by the comptroller to the individuals and organizations in each county and Baltimore City best exemplifying Schaefer’s lifelong commitment to helping people, according to the comptroller’s website.

Franchot said he heard from the staff of Schaefer, a former governor of Maryland, that he never said no to someone asking for help and he always opened his own wallet. He recognized Fowler’s father in the audience, former state senator Bernie Fowler, as an iconic figure.

“To me, this organization exemplified the principles and values of another iconic Marylander, William Donald Schaefer,” Franchot said.

Farming 4 Hunger started out with the aim to feed the hungry in Southern Maryland, but since expended to rehabilitate inmates, educate youth and work toward drug prevention and awareness — working to feed people physically, mentally and spiritually.

“It’s giving people second, or first chances, in some cases,” said Rachel Jones, Farming 4 Hunger board member and representative for U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Fowler highlighted the blossoming relationships Farming 4 Hunger has with the area’s public school system and plans to bring an introductory program about growing and planting to elementary schools with the help of a growing tower. Each tower costs approximately $1,000 and local businesses are helping fund the project. Farming 4 Hunger already teaches school groups about criminal justice issues and community service, but is planning to build upon these opportunities with a long-term approach.

Fowler said drug prevention starts as early as elementary school, by helping children confront everyday challenges so that later they have the coping skills that won’t push them toward substance abuse.

“It’s much more than growing vegetables, corn and potatoes. It’s about growing hope for those who have lost it,” Franchot said.

Bernie Fowler Sr., Del. Susie Proctor (D-Charles, Prince George’s), Del. Edith Patterson (D-Charles), Calvert County Commissioner Steve Weems (R) and Calvert Commissioners’ President Tom Hejl (R) were in attendance Wednesday.

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