Meet Our Team
"Family: Like branches on a tree we all grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one."
Representing four generations, five cities, and three states, our team spans multiple decades and several hundred miles. Though life has taken us down various paths for now, we share a common goal and the future plans of each member involve chestnuts in one way or another. Meet our family!
Richard resides on a large valley farm in Southeast Iowa with his wife Darla. Father to two daughters and grandfather of six, his vision is simple: leave behind something that enables his family to make a living together. Not only does he contribute the vision, the land, and the opportunity, he is currently the primary manager of the 25-acre (and growing) chestnut orchard as well. Recently, he has been busy setting up a custom processing line which includes a chestnut sizer and a washer that he designed.
Jeff & Leanne ALLEN
Jeff and Leanne also live on the family farm east of Sperry, Iowa. Jeff is a senior quotations engineer for Asea Brown Boveri; he manages Valley Chestnut's finances, keeps records on every tree, develops plans & projections, and has a spreadsheet for pretty much everything. Leanne is the children's ministry director at their local church and is responsible for Valley Chestnut's website & blog. With the help of other family members, she and Jeff are developing an online store for direct--to--consumer sales.
Ethan & Stacia GERST
Ethan is the oldest of the six grandchildren. He and his wife Stacia live in Denmark, Iowa. Ethan currently works for Midwest Performance and Power in Keokuk and his extensive experience with retail sales and social media marketing will be valuable assets for Valley Chestnuts. Stacia loves being a mom and hairdresser; she & Ethan are excited to be part of a family business and to one day involve their son, Rhett.
Caleb & Jessica GERST
Caleb & Jess currently reside in Waynesville, Missouri, where Caleb is a military police instructor at Fort Leonard Wood. They plan to return to Southeast Iowa in 2021, once Caleb fulfills his commitment to the U.S. Marine Corp. Caleb sees himself working in orchard management and possibly retail sales, but his adaptability and discipline will serve Valley Chestnuts well in a variety of ways. Jessica looks forward to being a full-time mom to the daughter they'll be welcoming in October.
Trevor will graduate from high school in 2020 and, as another family member that currently lives on the farm, he plans to stay close to home. He is already involved in the day-to-day planting and care of our chestnut trees and acreage, helping with mowing, spraying, record-keeping, and a number of other tasks. He looks forward to living and working on the family farm.
Athan & Emily MONCADA
Athan and Emily live in the Minneapolis, MN area where Emily is an English Language teacher and Athan is a systems developer for Federated Insurance. Down the road, they plan to return to Iowa and become further involved in the family business. In the meantime, Athan's business background and analytics know-how are being utilized; Emily assists with social media.
Olivia lives in Ames, Iowa and will graduate from Iowa State University in December with a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture. Although she's uncertain about where she will settle, her specialized studies and hands-on experience in fruit & vegetable production, large-scale research, and food safety will be great resources for Valley Chestnuts.
Thanks for getting to know our family! If you'd like us to notify you when this year's chestnut crop is available, please click here.