Farm to Table, Elevated

Chefs remake fresh vegtables

Yes, the farm to table movement has been quite trendy the past few years and that’s amazing. It’s a great concept. But sometimes, you see the trend not only done well, but elevated. Taken to a level that truly benefits the farmer, the consumer, and the community in general. And to top it off, when the food and service is top-notch (as evidenced by the countless awards and recognition they continue to get) you have a win/win, a delicious result. Case in point right here in the Phoenix area, with The Farm at South Mountain.

Interestingly, the land where the Farm sits, just south of Southern and 32nd Street, is an ancient riverbed which means naturally-rich soil was there from the beginning. The “beginning” was in the 1920’s, with the simple vision of sustainability, conceived by Dwight Heard (yes, of Phoenix’s Heard Museum). He divided the land up, sold plots for an extremely reasonable price, and encouraged self-sufficiency. Soon after, the farm’s famous pecan trees were planted (and cared for, for over 40 years) by a retired cattleman, Skeeter Coverdale. The “modern” farm set-up began when Wayne Smith purchased the property and began to develop his vision which included a mix of gardens, restaurants and markets (what you’ll see at the Farm today). In 2012, Pat Christofolo purchased The Farm after being involved with it for many years, and she continues to run things and help keep the Farm the fabulous concept and property that ancient riverbed was always meant to be.

On property, there’s a farmers market every Sunday, where Maya’s Farm (known as the “gardens” at the Farm) sells its produce, herbs, eggs, flowers, etc. Maya’s Farm is a small, sustainable, certified organic operation which produces beautiful and some of the freshest-tasting food around for local markets, restaurants and schools. They also have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, which gives subscribers a weekly supply of their produce.

As you walk around the Farm, you’ll notice there are several other things to see and do, like Botanica, a funky shop/modern market which sells products for your garden, patio and home (many of which are locally sourced). Botanica holds an “open air market” at the Farm on several weekends throughout the year. They also have a handy recipe/produce news blog on the Farm’s website.

Then there’s Succulentia,  a one-of-a-kind nursery that specializes in rare, exotic cacti and succulents.

And Utopia is an option, too if you’re looking for a healing massage, intuitive reading, or energy clearing. They also offer classes in self-awareness, yoga, drum making, chi gung and other healing arts.

However, the rock stars of the Farm at South Mountain are its three restaurants. Three restaurants that just do it right. Food is the focus, service is sweet, and the region (from your immediate surroundings to the state of Arizona) is highlighted from the moment you sit down.  Conceptually and practically, at all three establishments, the meals are somehow kept simple…yet creative and refined.

The Farm Kitchen is the original restaurant on the property. You walk up to the counter, you choose your sandwich, soup, seasonal salad, or made-from-scratch baked good, and you place said item(s) in your picnic basket. Then simply find a spot to sit under a pecan tree or at a picnic table and relax. It’s divine.

Morning Glory Café serves breakfast and brunch…locally made sausages, house-made muffins and pastries, omelets, etc. Here, you relax (and devour) by the organic gardens. Again, divine. (And a beautiful and delicious place to take out-of-town guests.)

Then there’s Quiessence. Oh, Quiessence. This is where “farm-to-table” isn’t just what they do. It’s who they are. It’s locally sourced produce, meat, wine, artisan breads, handcrafted pastas; it’s just-picked herbs and flowers in your dish or cocktail. The unique, uncomplicated menu is seasonal and always outstanding. Executive Chef Dustin Christofolo and his team helped Quiessence become labeled “one of the five best restaurants in Arizona,” by Zagat. As for the wine list, although it includes an international reserve section, it’s the American (specifically the Arizonan) wines which are always highlighted and suggested…when they’d make an appropriate choice with your meal. Bottom line, Quiessence is a Phoenix farm-to-table must-do.

The Farm also specializes in weddings, for that “rustic elegance” couple. Actually, they host various events…corporate, private, etc. There’s much more information about those, and about the restaurants, Maya’s Farm, etc. on their website: So go ahead, jump on the farm-to-table trend, and know it’s being done right.


Kristine has been researching, writing about, and enjoying beverages for years. A freelance writer, she's wife to one cool guy, and mom to another. She's an avid researcher, reader, hiker, texter, hat wearer and music listener. She lives in Phoenix with the aforementioned cool guys and all three love to explore restaurants and travel. She can be reached at

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