Miller brothers’ unexpected return injecting new energy into historic operation
CLINTON, Md. — Just 12 miles from the heart of Washington in Maryland’s Prince George’s County, Miller Farms adheres to its rural roots, while feeding the city that has sprung up around it.
Occupying 267 acres, the farm has been family owned and operated since 1879.
Spanning multiple generations, multiple family members, and multiple businesses on the same tract of land, something is always happening at Miller Farms.
Along with the farm store and bakery (which has donuts as locally famous as the farm), there are several greenhouses, and produce fields on either side.
What may not be immediately visible is the farm’s agritourism component, the laying hens in a barn full of eggs, the bedding plants, and the firewood for sale, all of which also operates out of this seven-days-a-week multitasking market.
Buyers for the farm’s produce include not only the home farm market customers and customers from the busy D.C farmers’ market, but also wholesale buyers such as Giant Food, Harris Teeter, Produce Source Distributors, Coastal Sunbelt, and the Capital Area Food Bank.
At 30, Brad Miller is part of the sixth generation of Millers that has stepped up to take the reins in the family business.
Brad’s busy corner of Miller Farms includes his wife Lauren and their two young children, Emma and Jack (with a third child due in August), as well as fruits, vegetables, chickens, eggs, farmers’ markets, the fall agritourism festival, and multiple employees.
After graduating from Frostburg State University in 2009 with a degree in Legal Studies, Brad interned for a time in Annapolis, learning the ins and outs of the political scene.
Then, in the spring of 2010, his uncle, Wayne Miller, an integral part of the family business, was diagnosed with lymphoma and Brad returned home to the farm to help while Wayne received treatment.
Unfortunately, Wayne passed away shortly after his diagnosis. Brad said he decided then that he was on the farm to stay, not only because of the loss of his uncle, but because he knew the farm was where he wanted to be.
“I’m grateful to have this opportunity to be on the farm” he said. “We’re fortunate to be able to be a part of this, and to be able to pass it on to our kids, who are the 7th generation on the farm.”
Lean, wiry, and full of energy, Brad is often seen darting between rows of produce while on his phone taking orders, and simultaneously directing his picking crew.
When asked about his typical daily schedule, he laughed a little and said “well, every day is different, but I guess I typically run from about 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. on any given day.”
When asked about his son, Brad’s father, Phil Miller, said “He’s grown up real fast, or at least it seems like that to me.
“He’s more responsible now than I ever thought he’d be. “He’s handling things really well around here.”
Phil paused for a moment, and then said “You know, I never thought either of the boys (referring to Brad, and his younger brother Adam, also full time at the farm) would come back to the farm. I never pushed them for that, but I’m glad they did. Adam, he’s good in the fields, and Brad, he’s the marketer and the seller.
“He can talk with the best of them, the big buyers don’t intimidate him. He’s better at that than me.”
Like older generations of the family, Brad is also very involved in his community and various agricultural groups across the industry.
He currently sits as a board member for the Prince George’s County Farm Bureau, is an active member of the Farm Bureau Young Farmers chapter, is President of the Maryland Vegetable Growers Association Fruit, and is also active in his local church.
His education in agriculture took a more official turn when he participated in Class IV of the agricultural two-year leadership program, LEAD Maryland. “Brad Miller, Miller Farms” as he’s fondly known to his LEAD classmates, for how he introduced himself on their tours, shows he and his farm are closely connected.
In a country where farmers make up less than 2 percent of the population, and the average age of those farmers is 57 years old, it’s the young farmers like Brad Miller that are going to carry farming forward into the future.
Committed, driven, flexible, and innovative, Brad Miller holds on to traditions and roots, but also adapts to change to thrive in modern-day agriculture.
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P.O. Box 2026 Easton, MD 21601-8925