Virginia’s Miller Family Farm — Sweet Corn and Catholic Tradition
Born and raised a Baptist, Ben Miller entered the Catholic Church after his second of nine children was born.
Way down the road in southern Virginia sits a very appealing and productive farm run by the Miller family, thanks to Ben Miller. For anyone hungry enough for fresh farm foods — especially living in the area — the Miller Farms Market offers a vivid and tempting array of fresh veggies. Especially popular is their sweet corn. The family farm website, https://millerfarmsmarket.com, offers enough colorful shots of cattle and fresh veggies that shoppers might leap into their car and head to the farm in Locust Grove.
Born and raised on a farm in Spotsylvania, Virginia, Miller fits well into the farming life. His grandfather started a dairy farm in 1946, and the family milked cows until 2003, when, Miller said, farming expenses started climbing while the price of milk stayed flat.
“The cost of a tractor went way up,” he said, “so the family had to make a change. The family began to grow produce, from strawberries in the spring to pumpkins in the fall. We added broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, and our sweet corn and tomatoes were the main summer crops.”
Farming has indeed been his life’s work, but Miller underwent a major change, a spiritual change, early in his marriage. Born and raised a Baptist, he married a lifelong Catholic, and Miller converted to Catholicism after the birth of their second son. “Since then, each day, each year,” he said, “I have grown deeper into my faith. It has affected my life, and farming and praying go hand in hand. I depend on God for everything, from rain to frost, and it is our prayers that get us through on a daily basis.”
He added that his family with nine children go to St. Anthony Catholic Mission in King George, Virginia. “We go for the High Mass,” he said, “and our children sing and serve at the Traditional Latin Mass. Our Christmas Midnight Mass is just beautiful.”
With such a busy farm life, Miller said that his children do help. All live with the family — they are homeschooled and very Catholic; two boys attend Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut online.
Having help on hand is a major benefit for Miller, but his farming life does slow down a bit in winter. “From December to mid-January,” he said, “I am getting the fields and greenhouses cleaned up and ordering seeds, plants and other supplies for the coming year. Then I start growing seedlings in the greenhouse.”
“Our sweet corn is so popular that people drive from all over just to buy our corn. We will have the same customers two to three times a week. We pick our sweet corn fresh every day. We make 20 plantings of sweet corn, a half-acre each week, beginning the last week of March. Our last planting is about the first week of August. This allows us to pick fresh corn every day, every week, from the end of June until mid-October.”
His plans for the summer? “It will be all the same vegetables. We have Rhode Island Red chickens for eggs and we raise Cornish Cross Broiler Chickens in portable pens on our pastures for meat. Our grass-fed Angus beef cows are processed at Fauquier’s Finest in Fauquier. We then sell the beef in the market located on our farm along with our eggs, broiler chickens and fresh veggies. We have a CSA [community supported agriculture] as well with pick-ups here at the Farm.
“We converted our old dairy barn into a market, here on our farm. All of our products are sold here at our farm through our market.
“We post regularly on our Facebook page and on our website so that you know what’s fresh at the farm!”
Surely as Miller looks back over his farming life, he must thank God for how his farming and family life have been so fortunate.