The Miller Family's u-pick-'em fruit and vegetable farm on Piscataway Road is quickly becoming a rarity in southern Prince George's County.

The family, which owns more than 350 acres of farmland near Clinton, is among a dwindling number of longtime landowners who are holding on to their property and resisting pressure from developers who envision parts of southern Prince George's County as the next Tysons Corner.

"They're building like crazy around here," said Phil Miller, 34, who helps run Miller Farms. "We've had offers, but we've talked about it and as long as we can make a living here, we're going to stay."

In an area bounded by the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, the Capital Beltway, Pennsylvania Avenue and the Charles County line, there are thousands of acres that within the next five years are expected to become newly built communities filled with office space, retail shops and single-family homes.

This region in southern Prince George's County is part of the missing link in the clockwise evolution of development around the Capital Beltway. Prince George's, which has been considered the ugly sister in the Washington area partly because of its strip shopping centers, warehouses and lower-priced housing, is experiencing a boom in development of high-technology office parks, luxury homes and malls from Laurel to Upper Marlboro.

The boom is now carrying over to the southern part of the county and, in part, is being spurred by the rampant growth in Charles County to the south.

State highway officials, citing the increased amount of traffic due to Charles County commuters traveling through Prince George's to jobs in Washington and neighboring areas, have slated several improvements, including the widening of Rte. 5, also known as Branch Avenue, between the Capital Beltway and Rte. 301. The $60 million project is expected to add two lanes to the well-traveled road and several new interchanges, including an interchange at Rte. 223, Woodyard Road, near Clinton.

Major residential home builders such as Ryland Homes, Fairfield Homes and Winchester Homes are planning projects in the region. Carrollton Enterprises, in a joint venture with Maryland Natural Gas, is working on plans to develop a 2,000-acre mini-city in a tract around Indian Head Highway, Floral Park Road and Accokeek Road, according to the county's economic development corporation.

The focal point of development in southern Prince George's County is the intersection of Branch Avenue and Rte. 301. Interstate General Co. owns a 277-acre piece of land at the southwestern corner of the intersection and will soon submit plans for a shopping center, office park and residential community for county approval, said Charles Stuart, senior vice president. The company is one of the developers of St. Charles in Charles County, a complex of 9,100-homes just outside Waldorf.

"We think the area is slightly short of explosive," Stuart said.

Brandywine Cos., owned by Walter Meinhardt and his brother Henry, owns 325 acres zoned for industrial use and another 300 acres zoned residential near the intersection. They use the land to operate a automobile wrecking and used parts company but, Meinhardt said, are waiting for the right offer to sell.

"All of a sudden this area just caught fire," Meinhardt said. "We're looking for a major user who would do a first-class job and give us a quality development."

Gordon Gemeny, whose family has owned land in the area since 1897, owns a 225-acre tract off Rte. 301 to the south of Meinhardt's property, and has a tentative contract with Mark Vogel Cos. to develop a commercial office park project. He said developing the area is the key to efforts to link the region with the fast-growing northern Charles County, particularly the areas around Waldorf, St. Charles and La Plata.

Gemeny said the major roads that link the area to Richmond, Washington, Baltimore, and several proposed improvements, make the area attractive to developers and builders. If all the road changes and proposed developments are carried out, he said, the area could easily become another Tysons Corner.

"Right now we're in a situation where the ground has remained rural, but Waldorf has grown like {crazy}," Gemeny said. "It's an urban area surrounded by rural.

Elwood Watkins, property development supervisor with the Washington Surburban Sanitary Commission, said he has received a lot of inquiries about installing water and sewer lines in the Branch Avenue/Rte. 301 area and expects the number of applications to increase over the next few years.

Several other areas in southern Prince George's are also part of the building boom.

Further to the west on the Potomac, just south of the Capital Beltway, is James T. Lewis' 480-acre Port America project, which is expected to include 1,200 townhouses, 1.7 million square feet of office and 400,000 square feet of retail space.

Phillips and Knott, a local residential developer, is building a 52-unit subdivision on 50 acres just west of Upper Marlboro on South Osborne Road. The homes are expected to cost between $155,000 and $168,000.

"We just feel it's such a pretty area where people would love to live," said Susan Matlick, the comany's president. "We're keeping a lot of the trees and trying to keep the environment as intact as possible."

Right across Piscataway Road from the Miller's fruit and vegetable farm is Hyde Field, a 40-year-old airfield recently bought by William Albright, a beer distributor. He has changed the name of the airfield to the Washington Executive Airpark. Using private and federal money, he is planning to upgrade the runways and construct new hangars to make the place safer and more modern.

"Everything needs repairs," Albright said. "But if I didn't buy it, someone else would have bought it and probably tried to get rid of it. It's important to the development of the whole area."

In addition to continuing its use as an airport used by private planes, Albright said he hopes to develop a one- and two-story commercial office complex on the site. "If we don't have any commercial space around it, it's a loser otherwise," he said.

Whether the park is a loser or not, development in southern Prince George's County appears inevitable.