North Central SARE From the Field Profile
Kids Get the Skinny on Whole Grains in North Dakota Systems
Working in an extension office, co-owner of Dakota Family Mill, Adrian Biewer, became aware of the health needs that wholegrain products could address. Developing a better tasting wholegrain product made practical sense.
In 2006, the farm families of Dakota Family Mill, Duane and Jean Smith, Bob and Debra Evenson, and Adrian and Anne Biewer, submitted a proposal to the NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant program, and were selected for funding.
The goal for their project, “Kids Get the Skinny on Whole Grains,” was twofold: to create a niche market for their white wheat products for sustainability and profit for family farms and to promote healthier kids in the North Central region.They addressed the issue of childhood obesity by developing acceptance of whole grain products through experiential learning, child-friendly marketing and colorful packaging.
They chose the SARE grant program because it was flexible. “It best fit our needs and it also would allow us to meet the need for nutritional education in the communities,” explained Biewer.
Dakota Family Mill began distributing 5 lb. flour and cracked wheat to Econofoods in Wahpeton and The General store in Abercrombie and Colfax, ND. UPC codes were purchased to begin sales. They were part of a two-day sale promotion at Econofoods and sold out the shelf stock three times during that promotion.
“It has been a learning experience to work with our local grocer, “ said Biewer. “They were very open to offering our product on the shelf and have started providing baked white wheat products from their bakery. We were part of the baking mix refinements for their batches and were asked to evaluate their products. They have been very helpful and will enable us to better meet the needs of future customers.”
“People who have tried the products seem to really like them. However, we really wish we could do it cheaper so more would consider buying it. When you line it up with other products at, say, Walmart, - it looks expensive. And, there are no places close to us to custom mill or pack,” said Biewer.
They intend to work through distributorship in small towns until they have a larger supply and a better understanding of the business. The group is confident that people are ready and willing to learn about and embrace the idea of eating more whole grains. They stress that white wheat whole grain flour can be used in ordinary recipes, and teach that whole grains can be implemented in recipes and food for every meal of the day.
The expected economic impact of the project is the development and expansion of the hard white wheat market. “In the long term, this would create an alternative profitable crop for farmers and job opportunities in the area, such as trucking, manufacturing and marketing,” said Biewer.
Richland County Extension agent, Colleen Svingen, participated in outreach for the project.
“As research continues to reveal the numerous health benefits of whole grains it reinforces the need to teach the health benefits to the public,” said Svingen.
Community outreach, especially to kids, is an essential component of the project.
Their school program “Kids Get The Skinny on Whole Grains” has met with much success. Colleen Svingen and Deb Evenson with Richland County Extension have been to every public school in Richland County. They have programmed in each sixth grade classroom in Richland County (five rural schools and Wahpeton). Their “Bread in a Bag” program reached 190 students. They reached 130 students with their “Pretzel in a Bag” program. Programming has also occurred for 35 4-H students at various age levels.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) FNC06-607, Kids Get the Skinny on Whole Grains.
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These products were developed with support from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA). Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed within these products do not necessarily reflect the view of the SARE program or the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.