When Carol Steele acquired Aravaipa Farms from Bill Farney in 1995, her dream was to leave city life behind and open a bed and breakfast in the remote backcountry. It wasn’t as crazy as it sounded. Not only was Carol already a consummate entrepreneur with experience in farming and lodging, she was also widely known as the “Godmother of the Phoenix Culinary Scene” (Silverman, Phoenix New Times, 2012). In the 1970s, Carol had opened C. Steele and Co., a Scottsdale-based gourmet shop, restaurant, cooking school and catering business, all considered before their time. “Long before we were inundated with terms like ‘organic,’ ‘locavore,’ and ‘slow food,’[Carol] was refusing to compromise on quality, celebrating farm-grown produce and artisanal foods.” (Silverman, Phoenix New Times, 2012).
Carol sold C. Steele and Co. in order to buy Farney’s peach, apricot, and pear farm. It had only two out buildings then, one without a roof and the other without a floor. She moved herself full time into the farm’s main residence to direct the enterprise and hired Lazaro Cervantes, a local cowboy artisan, to build out more casitas and enhance the grounds with flagstone patios, a pool and other amenities. Carol’s reputation among foodies helped Across the Creek at Aravaipa Farms gain traction, not to mention worldwide media attention. She gradually increased the size of groups she could accommodate and attracted hikers, birders, artists, yoga groups and others. Her loyal following continues to this day.
In the summer of 2016, we happened to learn that Carol, at 80, was looking for a buyer and in October, we acquired 46 acres including the orchard and lodging facilities. We spent the next five months power washing, painting, trimming, planting, making repairs and renovations, purchasing tractors and trees, assembling our team and launching this website, all in preparation for the March 2017 reopening as Aravaipa Farms Orchard and Inn.