Life on the Farm: Family, Farming & Food

Shannon and Robert Miller.
Photo submitted.
Posted on: April 17, 2018

Submitted by Miller Bay Farm

Meet the Millers, Shannon and Robert, who own and operate Miller’s Bay Farm at Lombardy, Ontario. Robert represents the fourth generation of Millers working the family farm.  It’s located on the Rideau Ferry Road – just between Lombardy and the picturesque hamlet of Rideau Ferry. Growing crops on 400 acres keeps the family and their seasonal staff busy enough from about April 1st until freeze up in the fall.  

There is plenty to accomplish in the colder months as well.  The days are nearly all filled with appointments, seminars, family commitments and of course – strategizing, planning and placing orders for seeds, supplies and equipment to be used in the upcoming growing season.  

Both Shannon and Robert have farming in the blood and grew up on farms in the area. For Robert, it was on the very farm where he and Shannon are raising their family now.  Shannon’s love of farming began just south of Smiths Falls on the Hunter family farm (Maple-Ain), a dairy farm which is now owned and operated by her brother Hugh and his family.

Like most family farms, Miller’s Bay Farm has taken its own unique path to arrive here in 2018.  Just 20 short years ago their 40-cow dairy herd provided the farm’s main income, with a few other entities ‘on the side’.  There was a beef herd, a maple syrup operation and a small vegetable garden. The gardening aspect served to carry on the decades-old tradition of the Miller family offering selected vegetables (mainly sweet corn) to the many summer residents of the Rideau Ferry, long before the area was the year-round community that it is now.

Fast forward to today.  All of the livestock is gone.  The maple trees are no longer tapped.  The vegetables (and berries) have taken centre stage.  The Miller family grows strawberries, beans, sweet corn, pumpkins, and nearly everything else from asparagus to zucchini on the farm.  The land not needed for produce is used to grow commodity crops like soybeans, wheat and grain corn. Robert and Shannon are passionate about making a worthwhile contribution to the communities surrounding their farm.  Providing high quality produce is just one way to accomplish that goal. The fruits of their labour can be found in many locations, including their long-established roadside stand, local farmers’ markets, festivals, and restaurants, along with select grocery and specialty stores in the area.  

Though it seems nearly impossible, 2018 marks already the fourth season that Miller’s Bay Farm has been a regular contributor to Hometown News.  Keep an eye out over the coming months for stories of life on the farm; an inside look at how things grow; hints and tips for selecting, storing and preparing Ontario’s bounty – whether it be out of your own garden, or someone else’s – and  of course, tried and true favourite family recipes.

This article was first published in the April 2018 issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our April 2018 issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer (find a list of locations here) or read our digital version.