US (OK): Osage Nation growing fresh produce for community with Harvest Land farm

Osage Nation is working to provide fresh and healthy foods to its community. The tribe opened their own meat processing facility and butcher shop earlier this year in Hominy. They're also growing fresh produce in Pawhuska. Both are part of an effort to eliminate the food desert in Osage County.

“Pawhuska has one grocery store," said Jann Hayman, director of the Osage Nation Dept. of Natural Resources. "And there are quite a few other communities around Osage County that don’t even have grocery stores.”

The Osage Nation spent about $9 million of CARES Act money to start The Harvest Land farm in Pawhuska. The tribe developed the farm after seeing an increase in food insecurity during the pandemic. They grow a variety of produce from peppers and squash to tomatoes and herbs. “This is kind of our way to try to bring different kinds of produce to the community that just isn’t available otherwise," Hayman said.

The produce grown there goes toward the tribe’s elder nutrition program and school children. Margaret Sisk works at the farm and also teaches students how to grow their own vegetables.

Kids aren't the only ones learning to grow produce. Harvest Land is also giving gardening classes for Osage Nation members and employees. They also started a new farmer’s market for the community in Pawhuska.

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