Dave Miller (center) with his children and grandchildren and PVGA President Brian Campbell (left) and PA Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding (right).

Each year, the Association recognizes an individual who had demonstrated a noteworthy record of service and dedication to either the state’s vegetable, potato or berry growers and/or the Association over their career. It is the Association’s highest honor. The year’s award winner is David Miller of Miller Plant Farm in York.  The award was presented by PVGA President Brian Campbell on February 1 at the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Banquet at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey.

Dave was born and raised on his family’s farm and began working full-time in 1972, right after he graduated from Dallastown High School. As a 4th generation farmer, he oversees the planning, scheduling and growing of many of the farm’s produce crops. He’s been told he grows the sweetest corn you’ll ever taste!

In 1974, Dave married his high school sweetheart and they started their own family right across the road from his childhood home. Together they raised three amazing kids: two of whom are working on the farm, and the other is an RN/nurse manager for Wellspan York Hospital. While the kids were young, they spent time at the beach in the summer and in Florida over the winter. Sadly, he lost his wife Diane to cancer in the summer of 2018. Since then, he and his kids, and some of her closest friends, have started a non-profit organization in her name. The organization raises and donates money for those struggling financially during their cancer treatments. To date, the organization has donated over $100K.

Miller Plant Farm is a Pennsylvania Century Farm, founded in 1912. They grow 50 acres of vegetables and farm approximately 200 total acres. They raise about a dozen beef cattle annually. They recently built a beautiful new modern retail farm market with 2,500 sq. ft. of climate-controlled sales floor space and 11,500 sq. ft. of retail greenhouse space. The market and garden center are open March through December. The garden center offers annuals, perennials, houseplants, succulents, trees, shrubs and vegetable plants. During the holiday season, they grow a stunning poinsettia crop.

The farm’s homegrown produce is also available in the farm market. They have been offering a CSA since 2012, and membership has grown to over 700 annually. It runs for 21 weeks from mid-June through October. Besides their retail farm market and CSA, they operate a stand at York’s New Eastern Market where they sell their plants and produce from March to December. The farm also sells fresh produce wholesale to several local supermarkets.

Beside the farm’s production for retail sales, they are perhaps best known in the grower community for growing around one million seedlings/transplants for vegetable growers annually in their 70,000 sq. ft. of production greenhouse space. Not only are they known for quality transplants, but also for Dave’s free advice about the best varieties and production methods.

If all this is not enough to keep him busy, Dave recently completed 18 years of service on the PVGA Board of Directors that included two years as president. He has joined the elite group of past PVGA presidents who help manage the Association’s Farm Show booth besides enlisting his farm’s staff to help out each year as well. He has also served for over 20 years on the Board of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program Board, including a long tenure as Chairman of that Board. He continues to be a valuable leader on that Board. He is also an active member of his childhood church and many other organizations in his community.

These days, his free time is spent hunting on the family farm and out west. In 2019, Dave and his brother bought a vacation home in Florida, and you’ll find him there fishing several times a year! However, his favorite past time is spending time with his five grandchildren. He makes it a point to get to as many of their sporting events as he can – he’s an amazing Pappy!

It should be abundantly clear why Dave Miller deserves this year’s PVGA Annual Award and Life Membership. In truth, he would have received this award several years ago, but he also serves on the PVGA Leadership and Recognition Committee that nominates the recipients of this award and has insisted that it would not be proper for him to receive it. He missed the committee meeting this year!