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LEFT: Margaret Moore & Anita Marquez. The pair have been picking and providing free produce to neighbors at the corner of 15th Street and Maryland in West Sacramento







From the News-Ledger

Feb. 9, 2011

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor    

  The fruit was free. But Margaret Moore and Anita Marquez would really like to have the fruit basket back.

  That’s the message from Moore and Marquez, who live on the corner of 15 Street and Maryland Avenue. The pair have started something of a neighborhood tradition, picking surplus vegetables and fruit from their own gardens and the yards of friends, and putting the produce on the lawn near the corner stop sign for passers-by to help themselves. Sunday night, the bucket they used to display the fruit disappeared.

  “We used the bed of a wheelbarrow,” said Moore. “It was totally useless to anybody, it had no wheels, and it had a hole in it. We put a hole in it to hold bunches of Raley’s bags that people could take and use for the produce.”

  Monday morning, some lemons that had been left in that “fruit basket” were gone, which was great, she said. But the leftover wheelbarrow bucket was gone, too.

  “We left it out overnight, because we had some lemons left over,” said Moore. “Somebody took it. We thought, gosh, if they would just bring the wheelbarrow back, we’d sure appreciate it.”

  The wheelbarrow bed was perfect for its task because it was light enough for the two women to easily move around, and it could sit up and display its wares to pedestrians and motorists.

  The produce giveaway has become popular and appreciated by neighbors, said Moore.

  “Throughout the year, we put out lemons, persimmons and cucumbers. We have put out tomatoes and squash, and one time we put books out. The neighbors kind of grew accustomed to it.”

  “We’d get little thank you notes, and once I even got a bottle of Champagne,” she added. “Sometimes I’d be out mowing the lawn and somebody would shout out, ‘Is the barrel coming out soon?’”

  Moore, who is retired, said she has lived in the city for about 50 years off and on, and was raised in the home she now resides in. The produce giveaway started when some elderly friends asked for help with some of their harvest, and said the pickers could keep some of what they picked.

  “Plums come from Anita and lemons and oranges come from me,” said Moore. “Persimmons, apples and other different things come from different people.”

  There’s no produce on the street corner right now, said Moore, because nothing in their repertoire is currently in season. But she and Marquez hope to have their wheelbarrow back in time for the midsummer apple crop.

  No doubt, the neighbors would appreciate that, too.

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