It’s easy to zip past The Simple Farm on this busy north Scottsdale street. It looks like an empty lot — a dirt filled gap squeezed between houses hidden behind tall stucco walls.
On Tuesdays, a couple of small signs posted near the street announce that this isn’t any old scrap piece of land.
Drive down the path to a wooden fence and you’ll catch a glimpse of what’s behind the wall — a suburban farm with a mish-mash of vegetable and herb beds, Nubian goats, a flock of chickens and a couple who toil sunup to sundown in their suburbatopia.
On Tuesdays, The Simple Farm is open to the public, selling a variety of vegetables and herbs. Several local chefs have already discovered this hidden patch, plucking purple kale and sugar pumpkins for their restaurants.
Lylah and Michael Ledner are living their dream on a three-acre lot in the middle of suburbia. Michael says for him, it started with a video called Home Grown Revolution, although he’s dabbled in serious home gardening before.
“We’re original hippies,” Lylah laughs. She says Michael was a street musician once upon a time, and camped out at Woodstock.
It’s hard to picture Lylah, a slim, elegant blond as a hippie. Her black garden clogs are caked with dirt, but her hair is swept back in a neat bun. She’s radiant, like the sun reflecting off her chicken coop.
For Lylah — who carved out patches of growing areas and gave them names like strawberry hill and the salad garden — this is about reconnecting with Mother Earth, with her community, and knowing exactly where her food comes from: her own hands and Michael’s.
Scattered throughout Lylah’s Alice-in-Wonderland-scape are whimsical seating areas with wooden entry gates.
She has a thing for French country garden decor. And a knack for making the outdoors look just as inviting as any proper parlor.
Lylah tells visitors to cut their own herbs — lovage, French chervil and sorrel among others — handing silver trays to ladies, wooden cutting boards to men, along with a pair of kitchen sissors.
She encourages visitors to stroll through the gardens, to linger and talk.
The farm’s tiny store is also decorated in French country. Behind the store is the milking barn for Lylah’s other passion — goats.
Storm, Marie, Lavender and Cinnamon are courted by Charley, the buck.
“Goats are like dogs who give milk,” Lylah laughs.
She wears her passion for The Simple Farm on her crisp, white sleeve. She and Michael plan on 2011 as a year of growth.
“2010 was a learning year,” she says. They have a farm manager now, a close friend they trust.
Plans are in the works to plant the front of the property and a year from now it won’t look like a dirt lot anymore. It will look as magical as the gardens behind the fence.
As she plucks an icicle radish from the triangular-shaped gourmet garden patch, Lylah gets misty-eyed.
That’s what happens when you live your dream.
9080 East Cactus Road, Scottsdale
Tuesday Only Simple Farm Farmers’ Market:
9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.