PAWHUSKA, Okla. (KTUL) — On Monday, the Osage Nation held a ribbon cutting on an 86,000-square-foot facility that will house a greenhouse, aquaponics plant, and food processing area.
The buildings will grow fresh produce for tribal members year-round.
“Much of Osage County is a food desert, access to fresh vegetables and meat was a problem prior to COVID," said COVID Task Force Coordinator James Weigant. "The pandemic only made this worse with many empty shelves and higher prices for groceries.”
The tribe spent $13 million in CARES Act funding on the facility.
Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said he was pleased with how fast the money got to them, allowing them to move quickly.
“This money came directly to the Osage Nation and this is proof, if the funds bypass the bureaucracy and come to us, we know how to use them,” he said.
Food insecurity was a problem for Osage County before the pandemic and things only got worse.
The tribe hopes this will move them closer to becoming "food sovereign."
“This is a dream come true for me 'cause I have been worried to death for about the past decade about food insecurity,” said Congressman Scott Big Horse.
The facility will provide fresh vegetables, along with tilapia, for the tribe members. Some of the vegetables have already sprouted.