Change Coming to The Farm at South Mountain
Rumors of the sale had been flying for months, and Christofolo as buyer isn't particularly surprising, given that she's been leasing seven acres of the property (excluding Maya's Farm and the back corner, which includes the Artist's Studio), then sub-leasing bits and pieces of it since 1997.
For his part, Smith is happy for Christofolo, who, he says, "knows the property better than anyone else." Way back in the day, Smith had a kitchen crew who ran the Farm Kitchen, the soup/salad/sandwich cafe at the front of the property. But when 150 customers started showing up every day (not the 50 he'd imagined), he turned operations over to Christofolo, who understood how to handle volume better than Smith ever could. The same thing happened with weddings. When they got to be too much for Smith, Christofolo stepped in.
Here's a foot-note for historians: The farm's first fine dining chef was Stacey McDevitt , who was later co-owner of Restaurant Hapa with her husband James, who was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine in 1999. McDevitt worked out of the Farm Kitchen. Quiessence (the former farmhouse where Smith's grandchildren were born) came later, first with chef Hallie Harron, then Brian Ford and finally LaPrad.
And just so you know, Smith (the most modest guy you'll ever meet) was the planner behind communities such as McCormick Ranch, Gainey Ranch and Ahwatukee. His pastoral vision of Phoenix has left an indelible mark on our landscape.