Jen joined the Foundation in 2016 as Director, Farm Entrepreneurship. Jen is responsible for the strategic planning and direction of the Foundation’s Farm Business Development Center program, while providing mentoring to beginning farmers. Additionally, Jen will direct the marketing program of the Foundation.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Jen led a successful career both within and outside of farming. Jen worked for 15 years in marketing, advertising and consulting serving as clients’ primary agency liaison, business consultant and strategic marketing guide. Jen’s clients included global and national accounts such as Thule, Dirty Girl, Wolverine World Wide, Allstate, Kmart/Sears, Ragnar, Zebco, and others.
While working in marketing, Jen and husband, Jeff, also dreamed of someday starting their own farm business, one that could involve both of them working on the farm and their young sons. In 2005, the Millers enrolled in the Stateline Farm Beginnings program, and upon graduation, Jeff left his career as a Landscape Architect and dove into organic farming. Together, the Miller family started Dea Dia Organics, a farm business which was a part of the Foundation’s Farm Business Development Center. Dea Dia Organics provided high quality certified organic produce, pastured pork and free-range eggs to CSA members, farmers markets and wholesale customers.
In 2010, Jeff joined Sandhill Organics at the Prairie Crossing Farm, and in 2012, both Jen and Jeff and the Sheaffer family joined forces to transform Sandhill Organics into Sandhill Family Farms. Sandhill Family Farms, an innovative partnership of two farming families, farming in two farm locations (Brodhead, WI and at the Prairie Crossing Farm in Grayslake, IL) providing for a shared CSA program. Sandhill Family Farms was a year-round diversified operation providing 500 Chicago-area families with deliveries of fresh produce, eggs, meat and dairy products.
In late 2016, in an effort to simplify and to better meet their quality-of-life goals, both families made changes to the business structure. The Miller family now operate Prairie Wind Family Farm on the Prairie Crossing Farm, and the Sheaffers operate Sandhill Family Farms in Brodhead, WI.
Prairie Wind Family Farm is the resident certified organic vegetable farm located at the heart of Prairie Crossing. Jen and her family live on the Prairie Crossing farm and farm 40 acres providing certified organic produce, free-range eggs and fresh fruit for CSA members throughout the Chicago area. In addition to managing Prairie Wind Family Farm, Jen also plays an active role in the development of sustainable farming and food systems, serving as a member of the Executive Leadership team of the Band of Farmers, a Chicagoland CSA coalition educating the region about local farmers and CSA programs.