New learning experience: Bird Creek Farm

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

When your department’s mission statement reads that you will “address the issues causing chronic disease within the Osage people and residents of Osage County” and you meet the staff of said department—you see energy and passion. And probably a more appropriate synonym for address the issues might be tackles the issues. This group of individuals with the Osage Nation Communities of Excellence (COE) confronts the problems of unhealthy lifestyles through a variety of means. This again, is their mission. They “educate the citizens in healthy lifestyles and the process of disease prevention through healthy food choices, exercise, and being tobacco-free.” This is done with “grassroots involvement,” “local focus,” and the collection and use of facts.

The development of the Bird Creek Farm will showcase COE’s mission and vision. The is an area of nearly seventy acres which the Osage Nation had not been aware they owned until the current administration of Standing Bear and Red Corn. COE’s initial plan is to begin with a garden and involve the community. The next stage is the creation of Wah-Zha-Zhi Echo Park. This will be an area of walking trails, fishing, and outdoor classrooms.

Communities of Excellence Director Gail Boe when describing the studying, the planning, and endless other tasks required for this garden endeavor, should seem exhausted. Instead she thrives from the challenge. There is no complaining from anyone involved. But one will hear Director Boe say occasionally that “this is a learning experience.”

Not all the seventy acres of Bird Creek Farms will be cultivated. A garden spot for The Three Sisters will be planted with beans, squash and corn. Plasticulture will be implemented. An area for community garden plots will be available. And one exciting aspect of this is—recycling.

As the Osage Nation launches its own recycling program, COE and Ta-Wa AmeriCorps have received donated carpet tubes. These will be cut in half, lengthwise, and used as dividers between the individual plots. Osage Nation Food Distribution will provide boxes which will be flatten and used as bio-degradable walkways.

Getting Ready for Spring Planting

Soil was gathered for testing last week. A tentative diagram of the garden has been created. Two large sections have been designated for the Chiefs’ crop choices. One will be planted with pumpkins because Principal Chief Standing Bear wants these available for the children this fall. Assistant Chief Red Corn who grew up learning how to prepare foods traditionally requested corn for drying. So, weather permitting activity should begin to take place on Bird Creek Farms, soon.

This year’s project is larger than last summer’s container gardens around the office and the pumpkin patch at 1st and Prudom. And that as Director Boe would no doubt say had been “a learning experience” and has prepared them for this year’s project.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the programs at Communities of Excellence or to become involved with Bird Creek Farms, contact the staff at (918) 287-5267.