On December 21st, Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and other key tribal officials have formally cut the ribbon at the new (42,000 square-foot) greenhouse growing space and programs building (44,000 square-foot) that includes aquaponics and food processing areas. There are already a variety of fresh greens and other vegetables planted within the facility to address food security disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following an opening prayer by Talee Red Corn, Chief Standing Bear delivered remarks before cutting the ribbon marking the launch of formal operations at the facilities. The seedlings now sprouting in the facility are expected to provide a variety of fresh vegetables in the next few months, including beans, squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, and other greens.
“These new facilities will provide the Osage Nation with a valuable new asset in overcoming the food security disruption of this past year, and in expanding our long-term food security capabilities once the pandemic subsides,” said Jann Hayman, director of the Osage Nation Department of Natural Resources, which is managing the development of the project.
While greenhouses are a long-established method of providing year-round vegetable production, aquaponics is a relatively new technology that utilizes a closed-loop system to produce both plants and fish. In the Osage facility, tilapia will be produced in conjunction with lettuce and spinach. Water from the fish tanks will be circulated through the plant beds to provide natural fertilizer to stimulate vigorous growth of the lettuce and spinach. The plants effectively filter the nutrients from the water, which is then recirculated to the fish tanks.
Another ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for December 28th at the Nation’s new meat processing facility in Hominy, OK.
Both projects are being underwritten by funds made available earlier this year through the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
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