We are currently learning about where our food comes from in school this week, so today I took the kids on a trip to Milwaukie, OR to visit Bob’s Red Mill. They offer free tours to the public Monday through Friday. The tours are only offered once or twice a day, so be sure to check their website for details before you go.
We happened to be the only people there for the second tour of the day, so we had our own personalized experience!
You don’t enter into any of the working parts of the factory, so it isn’t overly loud and it’s a great environment for children. When “Mr. Bob” built the factory, he built windows all around so people could come and watch how everything works. They even have small staircases with platforms for the kids to stand on so you don’t have to lift them up to see everything!
Christie was our tour guide and she was absolutely fantastic! She was patient with the kids and seemed to genuinely love her job and the company she works for. This table was filled with buckets of all sorts of different varieties of grain so the kids could see and feel what they all look like prior to being ground up.
After talking with Christie about the different varieties of flour, I admit I feel like a semi-expert now. I’m ready to do some baking using the appropriate kinds for the recipe instead of simply using all-purpose flour.
After viewing most of the factory and learning about how it works, the kids got their chance to do a little hands-on learning.
First, Christie showed them pictures of what a wheat field looks like when it first starts to grow, when it’s ready to be cut, and then when the tractor cuts the wheat.
Next, the kids got the chance to “thresh” the wheat by hitting it with their fists to make the seeds pop off.
After threshing the wheat, they blew on it gently mimicking the wind that the farmer uses for winnowing the wheat. Separating the chaff from the seeds.
Once they had their seeds, they dropped them into the mill and cranked out some flour. They probably would have stayed there all day if we would have let them!
At the end of our tour we posed on some of the grinding stones for a picture.
I won’t tell all of the details from the tour so it will be new and interesting if you are able to go, but I will say that I left the factory highly impressed. Every single person that we came into contact with (even just looking through the windows) was friendly and stopped to wave, smile, or say hello. I learned so much during the tour and I would highly recommend their products. (And no, I am not paid to say that!)
Oh, and during our tour we happened to see “Mr. Bob” himself!
When our tour was over, Christie asked the kids what they learned and they each got a cookie token for answering. We took our tokens and drove about a mile down the road to the store/restaurant. The kids enjoyed their giant cookies and I picked up some gluten-free pie crust mix (a surprise for a certain person) and some whole-wheat pastry flour for some scones I plan on making. The variety in the store was almost overwhelming and I plan on going back for some kid-free shopping when I can feel free to browse longer.
The tour was a big hit with the kids, who claimed it was “the best day ever” and are already asking when we will get to go back again.