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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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 an emphasis 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 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.
Matthew earned a BS in Graphic Design from Illinois State University. He has experience in gardening, landscaping, greenhouse growing, produce farming, and agriculture. Matthew enjoys gardening, DIY projects at home, being out in nature, and spending time with his family and his church.
Heather received her Associates Degree from ICC in Horticulture and Landscape Design. Heather is a wife and mother of two daughters who enjoys gardening, canning, and most importantly spending time with family and friends.
Jonathan started working at Kelly Seed in high school and was hired on full time when he graduated. Jonathan enjoys biking, playing soccer, gardening, helping with audio visual at his church, and spending time with his family.
Patty is a lifelong resident of Peoria. She retired from the Recorder of Deeds office at the Peoria County Courthouse after 24.5 years. Patty loves traveling, gardening, birdwatching, and spending time with family and friends.
Bobbyjack is a lifelong resident of Peoria. He is a 38 year member of the Steamfitters Local Peoria #353. He retired in 2014. Bobbyjack is married with one daughter and has two granddaughters. He enjoys camping and fishing with his wife Teresa. Bobbyjack brings a wealth of information from working so long in the trades.