Nearly three years ago, a five-acre patch of land in eastern Oklahoma County sat empty, just a weed patch sprouting from the hard Oklahoma soil. But Matthew Miller saw more than weeds. He saw fertile earth waiting to thrive.
So, the doctor of philosophy and father of two young boys traded his careers in academia and business for a pair of overalls and work boots, and he became an organic farmer and stay-at-home dad.
Miller was no stranger to the notion of home-grown crops. He was raised in rural Nebraska, and both his grandparents canned their home-grown vegetables.
"Until I was about 7 or 8, I had never eaten ketchup that my grandma didn’t make,” Miller said. "I have always had that kind of nostalgia for that. When I had kids, I thought, you know, I want them to have a place that they can go and be outside and run around.”
Miller has had backyard gardens for years, but the ¼-acre plot in Oklahoma City limits, where he and his family live now, wasn’t spacious enough for what he had in mind.
He envisioned expansive gardens bursting with produce he could share with others. He wanted chickens, hogs, cows and goats. He wanted to build an "Earthship” home where he and his family could maintain a sustainable lifestyle while having a positive effect on the Earth and community.
That’s why he and his wife bought land in eastern Oklahoma County — "the one thing they’re not making any more of.”
They are years away from his dream of fully living off the land there, but each year, his gardens thrive more, and he builds more infrastructure on his acres and gets closer to his goal.
"The thing is, for me, it’s my own sort of paradox that every day I drive out here, and I drive home. I live a fairly energy-intensive lifestyle; however, I aspire to living out here in an off-grid cabin growing my own food, eating my own chickens. It’s crazy. What can you say?” Miller said.
Making money from his produce is not Miller’s primary motivation now. He’s a stay-at-home dad, and his wife works at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
He named his farm "Happy Eggs” because he had a large flock of chickens laying eggs he sold.