Sound Bites: Meet Maya Dailey of Maya's Farm
By Allie Nicodemo, Science Writer, Arizona State University
Sound Bites is a new series that connects you with local food producers. Check back monthly to meet the folks who are working day-in and day-out to grow our local food movement.
Pulling up to the back entrance of The Farm at South Mountain, I’m immediately greeted by a pair of the most striking eyes I’ve ever seen – one bright blue and one brown.
“That’s Luke. He tends to like women more than men,” Maya says. A wide, toothy smile and furiously wagging tail confirm that I’m a welcomed guest. I follow them back toward a field with long rows of flowers, a chicken coop and large barn.
This place – almost too picturesque to be real – is Maya’s Farm. It is owned and operated by Maya Dailey, who has been farming in Phoenix for more than 12 years. The farm is a small operation that produces vegetables, flowers, eggs and herbs for local markets and restaurants.
Over the years, Maya has watched the Phoenix food landscape change drastically. She’s more knowledgeable than most about how important food is to our community, environment and local economy. Maya says the most critical thing we can do is educate ourselves– empowering each of us to make informed choices about our food.
Learn more about Maya in the interview below, edited for length and clarity.
Allie Nicodemo: How did you get into the farming business?
Maya Dailey: Serendipity. I think that it was meant to be. Originally, I was on the other side of the fence working in the restaurant industry, learning about flavors and ingredients. I was in New Mexico at the beginning of the food revolution and had lots of influence from chefs, such as Mark Miller of the Coyote Café. He was really promoting new varieties and local production. I was influenced by his creativity and his vision to see fresher, local ingredients on the tables.
AN: What are your favorite local restaurants here in the Phoenix area?
MD: I like to go to those places that are honoring the farmers and using local ingredients. I don’t know that I really have a favorite. I have a couple that I go to when I just need to have a home cooked meal. One would be the Bianco restaurants. I’m always very comfortable and feel that his ingredients are what the local food movement is about. I also call The Breadfruit my feel-good restaurant, because every time I eat there I just feel great afterwards. They do such a wonderful job. FnB is another one, as well as Rancho Pinot. All those folks have done a really good job in making the movement real.
AN: If you could change one thing about the local food system, what would it be?
MD: The one thing I would change in the local food system here in the valley would be the integrity and honesty of the movement. I find that the local food movement tends to be hypocritical and we are not always educating the consumer in a way that will help make a difference in the long run for the change that needs to happen for food production locally. I get frustrated when I see things like vendors at the farmers’ markets selling produce they bought at a grocery store. The average market customer might not know what’s in season, so they would never know that some of those vendors are not actually growing what they’re selling. It happens all over Maricopa County – there is a lack of transparency.
AN: What is one piece of advice you have for the consumer?
MD: To make sure that they’re educated and knowledgeable about who they’re supporting, why they’re supporting them, and why it’s such a big and important piece of the change that needs to happen in the world. Want to learn more about Maya? You can find her every Saturday at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market or visit her listing on Good Food Finder.