Fundraiser to help grow UMaine's Falmouth gardens

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FALMOUTH — Before the debate over the construction of a sports pub in its backyard took center stage, Tidewater Farm was an almost invisible neighborhood.

But still nearly out of sight in the mixed-use neighborhood, just off Farm Gate Road, lies the University of Maine Gardens at Tidewater Farm, an educational project on roughly three acres of land operated by the university’s Cooperative Extension in Cumberland County.

Amy Witt, a horticulturist for the program, said the space is mostly used as teaching gardens and outdoor classrooms, to show people how to grow their own food and plants and learn sustainable practices. All the food is donated to the Wayside Food Programs in Portland – about 600 pounds a year.

“Everything we do here has an educational component,” Witt said.

A pollinator garden is being constructed, which Witt said is a collaboration with the Cumberland County Beekeepers Association. The association will take care of the hives on the land.

Adjacent to the existing gardens is a large swatch of wetlands, which Witt said will eventually also be an educational component. She said there is hope to establish a small orchard, too.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s back here,” Witt said.

To support the gardens and outdoor classrooms, the extension is planning an Aug. 22 fundraising event called Taste of Tidewater. The evening event at the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary Parish House, 43 Foreside Road, will run from 5-8 p.m., and will include food, music and art.

Appetizers and desserts by chefs Steve Corry of Portland-based restaurants Five Fifty-Five and Petite Jacqueline, Mitchell Kaldrovich of MK Kitchen in Gorham, and Don Morrison of Wayside Food Programs are on the menu, and Witt said more than 75 pieces of art from 45 local artists will be shown and sold.

Witt also said the Pinetones, a local band whose leader is a master gardener at Tidewater, will be performing.

“The purpose of the event is to maintain and grow the garden, and have it be a resource for the community,” Witt said.

Janie Young, a Cumberland-based artist who is contributing art to the show, said she chose to donate because the cause is close to her heart. She said it is “a great combination of community, art, food and music” for a good cause.

“It’s a cause, a benefit, and an organization I believe in,” Young said.

Young added she designed her work specifically for the event, putting together a combination of views she particularly  enjoyed. Young, who grew up on a farm, said she enjoyed using the images for her work since she can relate to them.

All the prints in the show are 10 inches by 10 inches, and will be on display the week of Aug. 17. All prints are $200, with half the proceeds going to the artists and half going towards the gardens. Any art not sold will be returned to the artists.

“It will be a fun evening with great food, music and art,” Witt said.

Tickets for the event are $75, and are available online at and at the Falmouth and Cumberland locations of Skillins Greenhouses, and Allen, Sterling & Lothrop at 191 U.S. Route 1.

Tickets are also available at Highland Avenue Greenhouse, 109 Highland Ave. in Scarborough, and will be available on the day of the event at St. Mary’s.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Sidebar Elements

Amy Witt, a horticulturist for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, at the Tidewater gardens in Falmouth. The organization will be holding a fundraiser Aug. 22 to support the gardens.

Cumberland artist Janie Young’s “Tidewater View” will be one of nearly 80 pieces of art for sale at an upcoming fundraiser for the University of Maine Gardens at Tidewater Farm.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or