Incredible journeys that shape the present & future of food & beverage industry

Written by Hema Reddy / April 17th, 2014

From an Egyptian Tomb to Montana to Italy, Bob takes us all around the world. Today, Kamut® is used in thousands of products produced worldwide including breads, pasta, cereals, snacks, pastries, crackers, beer, grain coffee, green foods, and a delicious wheat drink.

We learn about:

*The history of the grain – from a small handful to over 40 million pounds per year
*The health benefits of ancient wheat versus modern wheat
*What life is like for Kamut® farmers
*Bob’s philosophy on how consumers should use Kamut®
*Future plans for Kamut®

About Bob Quinn:

Bob Quinn was raised on a 2,400 acre family operated wheat and cattle ranch south east of Big Sandy, Montana and is the son of Mack and Dorothea (nee Stammler) Quinn.  He attended local schools and earned a BS in botany in 1970 and a MS in plant pathology in 1971 from Montana State University in Bozeman.  He received a PhD in plant biochemistry at the University of California at Davis, California in 1976. After selling his business interests in a biological research and testing laboratory in Woodland, California which he and a friend started in 1974, he returned home to run the family farm and ranch in 1978.

In 1983 Bob started Montana Flour & Grains, Inc. originally in an effort to market his own grain directly to whole grain bakeries. The business soon expanded beyond his own farm and became a viable market opportunity for many other farmers.  In 1984 he started selling organic grain and a stone flourmill was added to the operation in 1985 the same year he sold his cattle to focus on a diversified cropping system.

In 1992 a cleaning plant was added and by that time 99% of products were organic.  In 1995 the Montana SBA named Bob as the Small Business Exporter of the Year.  In 1986 Montana Flour & Grains introduced to the natural food industry an ancient grain similar to durum wheat.

This grain was grown only organically and marketed under his own brand name, Kamut, (see for a complete description of this project) and now over 2000 different Kamut brand products are being marketed throughout the world providing a new crop for over 250 organic farmers in Montana, Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Bob sold Montana Flour & Grains to the company’s Chief Financial Officer, André Giles in 1999.  Over the years his farm has increased to 3400 cultivated acres and 600 acres of pasture.

In 2001 he and two partners from Germany formed WindPark Solutions America which is responsible for the development of Montana’s first large scale wind farm of 90 turbines totaling 130 megawatts  This wind farm was sold to Invenergy in 2005 who built and currently operates it near Judith Gap, Montana.

In 1986 Bob planted his first organic certified crop on his own farm and was farming the entire farm organically by 1989.  He works closely with Montana State University personnel testing cropping systems as well as different crops, including dry land vegetables for local markets grown without irrigation which is unusual in the semi-arid portion of the upper Great Plains.  He also has a small orchard to study berries and fruit trees best adapted to his area.

He continues to study and improve farming systems on his own farm which may be adapted to the northern plains and provide a substitute for the use of conventional chemically derived fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, summer fallow and diesel fuel.

Bob is active in his church and local community.  He served on the local school board, is a member and past president of the local Rotary club and has served on advisory councils for the local schools, county extension, and university experiment station.  He is 65 and has been married for 42 years.  He and his wife, Ann, have four daughters, one son and 16 grandchildren.

Bob is a member of the Montana Grain Growers and the Montana Farm Bureau (FB).  He is a past president of the Chouteau County FB and has served on the American FB’s Wheat Committee and Grain Quality Committee. He is also an active member of Alternative Energy Resource Organization (AERO) in Montana and received AERO’s Sustainable Ag Award in 1988. In 1993, he was named as one of Montana State University’s 100 outstanding alumni from their first hundred years.

Bob has been active in promoting organic and sustainable agriculture throughout the state and nation.  He helped form Montana’s first Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) chapter in 1987 and served as its first president as well as on the OCIA International board of directors as secretary.

He served on the first USDA National Organic Standards Board and has also served on a USDA agricultural research advisory committee.  He served on Montana Department of Agriculture’s first organic certification advisory board.  In 2007 he received a lifetime of service award from the Montana Organic Association.

He has also been a member of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) since 1987 and in 2010, received their National Organic Leadership award.  Currently his is serving on the board of The Organic Center and is the chair of the science committee.  In the fall of 2013 he received the national Organic Pioneer Award from the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania.

He continues to farm full time and promote organic and sustainable agriculture, locally produced food and fuel as well as promoting the idea that food should be our medicine and medicine should be our food.  He also promotes food production systems based on producing high nutrition and quality rather than high yields and works hard warning of the dangers of GMO based food.

He is currently studying a system designed to grow and press enough straight vegetable oil (SVO) on his farm to run all the machinery on his farm.  This will be done  after the oil is first sold to local restaurants for frying and then returned to the farm to be cleaned up to use for fuel.

He is working to transfer this model into a community system of fuel production which would be farmer owned so each farm participating could supply local restaurants and then operate those farms with the waste oil collected, cleaned and returned to those farms.