Maine Foodscapes, a nonprofit that installs raised-bed gardens to help low-income Mainers grow their own food, hosted its second annual garden-to-table dinner Oct. 5 at Mallet Barn in Freeport to fundraise, celebrate volunteers and get the word out about what they do.

“I’m a gardener and am in love with the mission,” said board president Katie Yates. “We set people up with a raised bed with soil, basic equipment and seeds. When you see someone at a build putting together raised beds, or when you see someone grow their first tomatoes – it’s amazing.”

Seventy guests enjoyed cocktails and mocktails by Vena’s Fizz House, charcuterie from The Cheese Shop, and a family-style dinner that included roasted beet salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette and whipped basil ricotta, a Thai curry winter harvest squash soup with pepitas, roasted chicken with farro, a local root vegetable medley, a garden salad with nasturtiums and apple crisp with homemade whipped cream.

In a lighthearted awards presentation, Maine Foodscapes founder Ali Mediate presented several volunteers and community partners with “trophies” spray-painted gold – including a golden pumpkin, golden shovel, golden spatulas, and golden seed packets (filled with golden seeds).

Maine Foodscapes, now in its second year as an official nonprofit, has been installing 4-by-8-foot raised garden beds for households and organizations since 2018. Gardens have been built for 210 households in Cumberland, York, Oxford and Androscoggin counties.

Henoc Ngoy and Wivine Ngomba, who were connected with Maine Foodscapes through St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, grow vegetables that remind them of their native Congo: cassava leaves, amaranth, squash leaves, hot peppers and okra.


Kristina Allen of Baldwin, who saw Maine Foodscapes on Facebook in 2019 and received a garden bed that year, has grown a small business, YellowBird Love Farms.

And Mike Peterson, both a recipient and a volunteer from North Yarmouth, grew tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots, garlic, delicata squash, pattypan squash, zucchini, lettuce and kale this past season. “You want to know about the herbs, too?” he asked.

To build garden beds, Maine Foodscapes partners with volunteers from Idexx, Greater Portland Council of Governments and United Way and with organization such as Catherine Morrill Day Nursery, Westbrook Community Center, Hope Acts, Logan Place, Tri-County Mental Health Services, Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Maine, Portland Housing and Lewiston Housing Authority.

With event sponsorships, a silent auction and ticket sales, the dinner raised $6,740, which will cover programming for the rest of 2023, including canning workshops. Sponsors included Martin’s Point Health Care, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Oakhurst, Allagash Brewing Co. and SBSI Bank.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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