The second annual Taste of Tidewater raised $15,000 for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension children’s garden at Tidewater Farm, near the Presumpscot River in Falmouth.

“We’re installing a new children’s garden and are adding plant materials and structures like cucumber tunnels, planting tables and water features,” said Amy Witt, a horticulturist for UMaine Extension. “We want to offer kids hands-on opportunities. The goal is to get schools down to the garden for programs tying in with their curriculum and to offer recreation and preschool programs.”

“Spreading the joy of putting something in the ground and having it grow – that’s what this is all about,” said volunteer Hans Hackett of Cape Elizabeth.

“I’m very pleased to see children being introduced to gardening at the Tidewater gardens,” said Mike Skillin, event emcee and co-owner of Skillins Greenhouses.

Local chefs served farm-to-table food and desserts as local band The Pinetones set the stage musically and the “10×10” art exhibition and sale set the stage visually.

“This year we have more chefs, more artists and more sponsors,” Witt said.

About 150 people – many of them master gardeners, chefs or artists – attended the fundraiser at the Episcopal Church of Saint Mary in Falmouth. Forty-nine out of 100 pieces of art were purchased that evening for $200 a piece: half for Tidewater Gardens and half for the artist.

“The 10-by-10s are just perfect,” said Karen Wood of Falmouth.

“These events are a really good way for a small business to get in front of an audience and talk about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it,” said Joe Fournier, co-owner and general manager of The Farm Stand in South Portland.

He served a Tuscan pork and kale soup that was almost entirely made from Maine farm products, except for the salt and pepper and the wine used to deglaze the pot.

“The Extension is about responsible and sustainable gardening, and we’re about responsible and sustainable farming,” Fournier said. “Our philosophies are a good match.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached a:

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