Best Green Thumb - 2009
Farming in Phoenix is surely a labor of love. From the inescapable heat to the lack of rain, the deck is stacked against anyone who might dare to coax food or flowers from our desert soil. Maya Dailey does just that. From her 1.5-acre Maya's Farm at The Farm at South Mountain, Maya's hard work has turned her well-tended rows into some of the most beautiful, sustainable, and enviable produce in town.
Farming is backbreaking work, and at Maya's Farm everything is cut by hand and grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides. The diminutive Maya, a garden sprite if ever there was one, makes it look easy. From digging her irrigation system to hand-turning the soil, there isn't a square inch of land on her farm that hasn't been worked by her. It shows, too, because her produce is sought after at Phoenix and Scottsdale farmers markets, as well as several restaurants in town.
It's not just the produce, either. Maya's flowers, with their beautiful colors and names like Zulu Prince, make heady bouquets. And we adore her tall sunflowers, whose blooms bob up and down like happy, smiling faces.
You'd have to be tenacious, daring, and perhaps a little bit crazy to think about starting a farm in Phoenix. So many family farms are disappearing, and with them seems to go most of our rainy season. And when fewer and fewer people cook at home, or even know where a carrot comes from, affixing the title "farmer" in front of your name might seem like a losing prospect. With the spirit of the pioneers who came before them, a love for the land, and a belief that basil is beautiful, Maya Dailey has turned dirt into soil, and doubt into dinner. She's tenacious, and daring, and maybe even a little bit crazy. That's all part of being a farmer in Phoenix, Arizona.