Monday, 09 August 2010 11:35

Whole Grain Treat

Whole Grain Treat

A few years ago, when the price of gas was so high that Paul Bates was paying more to grow wheat than he could get for his crop, his wife Donna wondered if there was more she could do to help. She already was working full time as the librarian at Condon Elementary School. She knew she wanted to do something with the wheat Paul farms, but she never thought she would end up running her own business.

Now she is three years into it, and her popped wheat berry snacks are starting to take off. Donna pops, flavors and packages the wheat in an old bunkhouse on the Bates farm east of Condon that the family has converted into Wheat Springs Bakery. Her son, Sam Bates, and her daughter, Heather Stephens, help with the business.

It all started when Donna was searching the Internet for bread recipes and stumbled on one for popped wheat. She made some, liked it and took it a step further, using the popped wheat in place of popped corn in caramel corn. She took the new snack to church, where everyone liked it. That year the Bateses gave “wheat berry brittle” as a Christmas gift, and the response was overwhelming. “People said, ‘You have got to market this,’” Donna says.

For the next four months, she worked to get a product she liked, cooking up some new variation every day after school. When Paul and Sam came in from working on the farm she would have eight different things for them to try. She wanted a healthy product, and one of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to pop the wheat without using oil.

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