About Kelly Seed

Roots run deep, since 1905

Kelly Seed Co. was established in 1905 by W.G. Kelly, who operated a store in San Jose, Illinois and another on Washington Street in Peoria, Illinois.

In 1936, Harold E. Church, fresh off the farm in Stark County and just out of business college, answered W.G.’s newspaper ad seeking a man with farming experience. He never missed a day of work in the 20 years he was employed by W.G., and in 1956 bought the business and inventory from him.

Harold moved the business to a building down the road from the original store and he and his wife, Helen, continued Kelly Seed in the tradition in which it was begun.

In the early 1960s, Caterpillar made plans to build its world headquarters in downtown Peoria. Not wanting to move the store again, he and Caterpillar came to an agreement to construct a new building on the corner of Washington and Hamilton Streets, where Kelly Seed continues to operate today.

Since then, the business has been a family affair. In the early 1970s, Harold’s son, Steve, and daughter, Nancee, joined the business. Harold’s other daughter, Patricia, helped out during the busy spring season. Today, Nick and Matthew, a third generation, help run the business on a daily basis, giving the family a combined 235 years’ experience working at Kelly Seed and Hardware.

Growth without compromise

Originally considered a farm store where farmers would purchase their seasonal agricultural seed, Kelly Seed has evolved and expanded to meet the changing needs of its customers while remaining true to its “old store” flavor. Customers come from miles around, relying on the experienced staff for their extensive knowledge, friendly service and the individualized attention that is sometimes lost in the hustle and bustle of today. Though the farm trade is still a major facet of the business, customers have depended on them for years as a supplier of quality bulk garden seed, grass seed, fertilizer and garden chemicals, as well as a large selection of bird feeders and premium bird seed mixed onsite.

At Kelly Seed, we pride ourselves on being the “go-to” business for anyone from the farmer, hunter, gardener, landscaper, bird enthusiast, or just the average homeowner. We strive to sell quality products at a fair price and above all provide personalized service to our valued customers whom we consider friends.

Your Experts

Steve Church
Steve Church serves as President of Kelly Seed. He started with the company in 1972 after graduating with a BS in Agribusiness from Iowa State University. When he isn’t hard at work, Steve enjoys fishing, gardening and spending time with his grandchildren. He believes in treating customers as friends.

Nancee Church Vespa
Our Vice President, Nancee, became a part of Kelly Seed in 1970. A recipient of a BA in English / Liberal Arts from Knox College, she enjoys gardening, participating in the DAR and Mayflower Society, and spending time with her grandchildren. Says Nancee of Kelly Seed’s valued clientele: “We have developed wonderful professional relationships with so many customers over the years – many of whom have become friends.”

Patricia Church Johansen
Patricia received her B.A. in English-Liberal Arts from Knox College. Although she lives in Indiana, Patricia has often come to Peoria for extended stays to help during the busy spring season. Her favorite pastimes are antiquing, traveling and spending time with her family and grandson.

Nick Vespa
Nick acts as co-owner and manager at Kelly Seed, and has been with us since 1997. Nick earned a BS in Agribusiness at Illinois State University, with emphases in Forages, Turf and Horticulture. Nick’s favorite pastime is spending time with his wife and three boys. They enjoy fishing, hunting, gardening, boating and travel.

Matt Church
Matt also co-owns and manages Kelly Seed. Matt received a BS in Agriscience from Western Illinois University with an emphasis in Urban Forestry and Horticulture. Matt, who joined us in 2000, spends his free time fishing, boating, gardening and spending time with family.

Roger Jeremiah
Roger joined our company in early 1979. With nearly 35 years of experience, Roger is well equipped to help with your lawn, garden, orchard, gameplot, and hay/pasture needs. Besides enjoying his work at Kelly Seed, Roger has spent much of his free time working with developmentally disabled citizens in the Peoria area community.