We would like to tell you a little bit about our history and introduce the members of Route 9 Cooperative. In 1972 Greg Miller and his father, Jay Miller, planted 500 Chinese chestnut seedlings on a farm in Lee Township, Carroll County, Ohio. Based mostly on this planting, Greg has become a full-time chestnut grower since 1984, and is the owner of Empire Chestnut Company. As the business grew, his wife, Diane, and kids, Amy, Quinn, and Collin, pitched in to help.
In 2004 Greg began marketing the chestnuts from his neighbors, Duane and Rose Kienzle, Tim and Marla Snyder, and Carl and Stephanie Cooper along with his own production. By 2007, the production from the neighbors’ orchards exceeded Greg’s production. In 2009, the combined production topped 60,000 lb, which greatly exceeded Greg’s capacity to clean, pack, and store the crop.
So after the record crop of 2009, Greg and his neighboring chestnut growers decided to form an agricultural cooperative in order to continue to market their crops together and keep costs low. As the cooperative was formed another chestnut grower and longtime colleague, Bob Stehli and wife, Marie, expressed interest in joining. Thus, there are now five charter members of this cooperative.
Many cooperatives have formed in recent years to take advantage of economies of scale. It is more cost effective to have one packing and storage facility than many. Administrative and marketing costs are less because they can be spread among the cooperative members. As family members age, move on, or change their roles, the co-op structure maintains continuity and security, so that the business is not dependent on one individual.
Route 9 Cooperative members look forward to working together to bring you sweet, tasty, chestnuts to eat, and chestnut seeds and trees for you to plant.