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Millers' Country Cupboard

Millers’ Country Cupboard

Though David Miller grew up on a farm, his and his wife Esther’s primary experience in produce agriculture began in 2003, when they moved their family of seven young girls from Ohio to Campbellsville, Kentucky. There they worked and lived on a small farm and attended a Mennonite church. As the church grew, its leaders decided to plant a new congregation in Indiana. Seven families were chosen by lot—among them, the Millers.

So in 2007 they sought out a piece of earth near Scottsburg, Indiana, and began considering what was next. David began building small barns, and contacted the Clark County Farmers Market in Jeffersonville and Charlestown. Soon they had 1-1/4 acres planted in vegetables.

Their industry grew. When shoppers requested baked goods, Esther found a commercial kitchen in Madison and began experimenting with breads, rolls, cookies, and cakes.

Then David added laying hens. Every year their table grew. After the Winter Market opened its doors in the First Presbyterian Church, Esther’s baked goods became its centerpiece.

When Indiana began allowing home baking, the Millers left Madison and built their own bakery in a shed near their house. In the summertime, Fridays begin at 5:00 for Esther, with yeast breads and cinnamon rolls. By 8:30 she is joined by Fannita, Lovina, Hannah, Davida, Hadassah, LaVerda, and 11-year-old Marcia, each of whom has her own specialty—friendship breads, chocolate chip cookies, and up to forty pies a week, with homemade crusts and fillings—not only for the market, but also for local stores and auctions.

The Millers lean heavily toward organic gardening practices. Their story is one of learning as they go, filling the niches they find, seeking guidance through their faith, and centering their social life on home and on Living Waters Mennonite Church, which has tripled in size since their arrival. Their story is also one of family: only one of the seven girls holds a job away from home. All the rest, when not in school, work  together in their busy kitchen and fields.

One of Esther’s joys is going out with her daughters in the cool of the morning to hoe or pick. For David, joy comes from bringing the fruit of the family labors to the market three times a week, meeting friends, catching up on news, and hearing shoppers’ praise for homegrown tomatoes, brown eggs, and whole wheat bread.

Trisha Tull,
Nov 13, 2013, 5:31 AM