MCN Conservation District uses grant funds to promote aquaponics

MORRIS, Okla. – The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Conservation District hosted a two-day aquaponics training event at the Morris Indian Community Center July 20-21.

Symbiotic Aquaponics, LLC CEO Kaben Smallwood (Choctaw) provided the training with a presentation on the first day and hands-on training the following day.

Smallwood’s presentation included the basic information in addition to sharing his knowledge and skill with participants including maneuvers to capitalize upon aquaponic farming.

Citizens may utilize an array of funding sources including USDA, FSA, or the Mvskoke Fund for ag-business start ups. Landowners may have the potential to capitalize in various ways.

Using Native American Agricultural Funds as a resource, MCN Conservation is seeking ways to promote this type of industry to Native Americans and promote food sovereignty.

Smallwood’s passion for aquaponics is something he hopes tribal members will adopt as a way to practice sovereignty in the food industry.

“If you can’t feed yourself, you don’t have sovereignty,” Smallwood said.

He believes the tribes should redirect the focus on services to their citizens in the long-term view. Simple diet changes could save millions in healthcare costs in the future.

“One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, ” Smallwood said.

He claims to see the health disparities by using food as another way to destroy tribes.

“We have always had to take what we have been given,” Smallwood said. “Now that tribes are in the position to do better, they should.”

The MIC houses an aquaponic grow system behind the building in a small barn.

The group followed Smallwood to the barn where he could show the participants all the needed components and how they work together to create a clean, environmentally safe garden.

There are several pieces to the system that can be purchased using start-up grants and business funds.

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