Osage Nation plans Dec. 21 ribbon cutting at Bird Creek Farm

Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and other key tribal officials are scheduled to formally cut the ribbon Monday, Dec. 21, at the new, 42,000-square-foot greenhouse growing space and 44,000-square-foot programs building including aquaponics and food processing areas.

The aquaponics area is already sprouting with a variety of fresh greens and other vegetables to address food security disruption created by the COVID-19 pandemic this year.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Nation’s Bird Creek Farm, located at 102 Midland St. in Pawhuska.

Following an opening prayer by Talee Red Corn, Chief Standing Bear will deliver 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 Monday, Dec. 28, at the Nation’s new meat processing facility in Hominy. Both projects are being underwritten by funds made available earlier this year through the federal Coronavirus Assistance, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.