Skip to main content

Tree Top Farm | Tony & Jill Geselle

Tucked away in storage at Tree of Life Church in Lexington sat an old puppet stage that caught the eye of Tony Geselle. He and his wife, Jill, had a vision to start an after school program to reach kids living in the trailer courts that surrounded the church. The ministry needed a name and as Tony pulled out that stage he noticed a sign on it that read, “Tree Top Puppet Company.” The first two words stuck out to Tony and served as the inspiration for what would later become “Tree Top Kids.”

The Geselles’ story began a few years prior to that puppet stage discovery. Tony and Jill both had a passion for missions, cultivated through overseas experiences. Jill had previously served on the mission field in Mongolia and Africa and Tony spent time with Rocky and Sherry Grams in Argentina. As they were dating and looking for direction in October of 2001, Tony felt God saying, “You don’t have to cross an ocean to find a mission field.” They bought a double wide-trailer in Stacy, MN and their mission field started in their own neighborhood. Soon that expanded to reach the kids living near Tree of Life Church, where they found the largest concentration of mobile home communities in Minnesota.

Tree Top Kids was launched in 2005 as a Minnesota District Home Missions Project that became an official non-profit organization in 2010. The heart of their ministry was to engage kids in four areas of need: spiritual, social, mental, and physical. Through programs that focused on after-school tutoring, life skills training, athletics, and community service projects, they were able to impact the lives of hundreds of kids on a consistent basis. They then started the process of expanding their outreach to include Tree Top Farm.

“If you feel God called you to do something, don’t follow the calling. Keep your eyes on God, and He’ll take you to the call.” – Tony Geselle

Tree Top Farm was a dream that was in the back of Tony’s mind ever since his time with the Grams in Argentina. It seemed an ever-elusive calling for years, but Tony was obedient to the Lord’s direction along the way. He was reminded of a message he shared years before where he said, “If you feel God called you to do something, don’t follow the calling. Keep your eyes on God, and He’ll take you to the call.” God was faithful. That call became a reality when the Geselles purchased a farm in Scandia, MN in the fall of 2016 after years of ups and downs trying to find the right one.

Provision followed the vision. The farm was in need of renovation and groups like Winona Chi Alpha helped with demolition and donated money. A local company brought their crew of 30 contractors to help with framing. An electrician donated wiring. Another person installed the insulation for free. They came to an agreement with a neighbor who uses the fields for corn and soybeans in exchange for all the hay the farm needs. Two separate women recently donated $15,000 each to fund a new barn for the animals. These are just a few stories of God’s faithfulness.

Today Tree Top Farm models healthy family and community for kids who desperately need that example. Every chore, meal, and activity is a lesson waiting to be learned. The Geselles hope to break negative cycles of things like broken relationships, neglect, and chemical dependency so common in society today. As Tony says, “You only repeat what you see,” and each experience at the farm is a parable that forms the faith of these young lives and generations to come.