Grist mill offers education on grains

ARCHBOLD – A grand summer outing might be a trip to Historic Sauder Village to see the renovation of a historic water-powered grist mill.

The outside of the mill and the pond got a facelift, while a new educational display was added to the inside.

“What we really want to do is make sure the mill reflects tradition,” said Tracie Evans, curator of collections for Sauder Village, 22611 SR 2, Archbold. “All stages are explained.”

The mill depicts the 18th- and 19th-century tradition, when farmers took their grain to a mill to be ground into flour or corn meal. The miller kept a percentage for his family and the farmer took the remainder home to provide food.

Milling grain into flour has been taking place since early in history.

In the 1700s and 1800s, water-powered grist mills were common sights in most settled areas.

The mill at Sauder Village is used to grind corn into cornmeal, which is for sale and used for cooking demonstrations.

Visitors can see the mill in operation and how the water wheel outside provides energy for working the grinding area inside. They can see how the ground corn was moved and packaged.

Visitors also can learn the similarities between grist mills and sawmills, which cut lumber for building projects.

In addition to watching the mill in operation, visitors learn the history of milling and can try grinding corn with stones as Native Americans did for centuries.

The new display area is interactive, providing hands-on learning for children and adults. They can see and compare types of grain and touch it. They can grind grain on a rock, which is a hand simulation of how grain is ground in the mill.

“When they walk in here, we want the whole family to have fun,” Evans said.

Because Sauder is a nonprofit organization, the renovation depends on donations, said Kim Krieger, director of marketing and public relations. “It takes the support of a lot of people to make this all happen.”

To go along with the mill renovation, Evans has put together an exhibit in Sauder Museum about grain through the ages and how it has been planted, harvested and processed.

“Grain: From Field to Flour” is an opportunity to see a detailed history of growing grain with lots of information about local traditions.

“There are a lot of grains you don’t think of as grain,” she said.

Some are eaten, such as wheat and corn, while others are grown to have oil extracted, such as soybeans.

The museum exhibit includes a game in which people can match grain with its name and learn what it’s used for.

It provides a historical timeline from early days through modern planting and harvesting methods and provides a comparison between the old method of grinding grain as depicted in the mill and new methods that pull grain apart rather than grind it.

It discusses the genetically modified organisms, gluten, celiac disease and other controversial topics by presenting the facts without bias.

“It clears up some of the misinformation,” she said. “I didn’t take a side.”

Nearby is another section of the museum children might relate to. It gives the history of breakfast cereal.

The display showcases the contributions of Mr. Kellogg and Mr. Post to the beginnings of the cold cereal craze as health food. It continues to the sugary phase, and back to the health-food idea of today.

The grain exhibit will remain on display through the end of the 2015 season in the museum’s temporary exhibit area.

The mill and museum are two parts of the overall Sauder Village experience.

Staff members and volunteers in period clothing demonstrate skills and crafts and share stories in historic homes, buildings and shops about life in northwest Ohio during the early 1800s through 1910.

Parts of the Sauder complex are open year-round, such as the gift shop, general store and quilt shop, as well as the Barn restaurant, Doughbox Bakery, Sweet Shoppe and Ice Cream Parlor.