2019 USDA RBDG

San Xavier District of the Tohono O'odham nation

Local Food Marketplace Development

program background

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San Xavier District (the District) is one of the 12 Districts in Tohono O’odham Nation with a population of approximately 1800. The District and its partners propose to develop a Local Food Marketplace to promote local food production and food business development. This commercial Marketplace will greatly strengthen the local food system and, at the same time, serve as a catalyst to spur economic development in Tohono O’odham and the rural communities in Southern Arizona. 


This program is aiming to i) increase the access and affordability of traditional O’odham foods and locally or regionally produced agricultural products; ii) create new markets and economic opportunities for Native American food producers and small/emerging food businesses in Southern Arizona; and iii) encourage healthy eating and healthy lifestyle while restoring the holistic wellbeing of O’odham people.


By reconnecting with traditional foods and revitalizing the knowledge and practices around those foods, San Xavier District has begun to proactively address the food related issues in meaningful ways. The proposed project will positively impact the health, the relationships among O’odham people, and the interconnectedness with the land/nature, gradually leading to a greater self-sufficiency and self-reliance for O’odham people.

Program Objectives

Obj. #1: Outreach and Community Engagement – (i) reach out to local food producers and small food businesses in local communities; (ii) facilitate community strategic planning discussions with community members and stakeholders; (iii) attend tribal/community meetings; (iv) build and maintain program website and social media.


Obj. #2: Engineering and Architectural Design and Construction Documents Preparation for the San Xavier Local Food Marketplace – (i) Host two community open-houses during the preliminary design period; (ii) complete the preliminary design of the entire development and the phasing plan; (iii) prepare the construction documents (plans and specifications) for the Phase I development; (iv) prepare construction cost estimates for the entire development and Phase I construction; and (v) update the environmental assessment and cultural resources clearance, as needed.


Obj. #3: Market Study and Business Plan Development - (i) Conduct a market study for the establishment of the Local Food Marketplace; (ii) prepare the business plan for the business operation of the Local Food Marketplace; and (iii) refresh the environmental and cultural resources assessment of the development site, as needed.


Obj. #4: Technical Assistance – (i) Provide direct technical assistance to Native Americans food producers and small food businesses on business planning and feasibility study; (ii) identify possible funding from government and/or private sources eligible to small and emerging minority-owned food businesses; and (iii) help to obtain and deliver grant projects successfully.


Obj. #5: Job and Business Development Training – Provide business development and capacity building training to small and emerging Native American business entrepreneurs through training workshops.


Obj. #6: Job Creation/Retention – As a result of this development, it is estimated that 60-77 jobs will be developed, including 6-8 direct jobs to operate and maintain the Marketplace and 54-69 indirect jobs from the small and emerging food businesses who rent the space.