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'Urban Oasis' food center wins $1M Forever St. Paul competition

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A plan to create an "urban oasis" that connects city residents to locally grown food is the $1 million winner in a contest designed to generate ideas to create a better St. Paul, according to the contest website.

The idea – among nearly 1,000 originally submitted as part of the Forever St. Paul Challenge – was submitted by Tracy Sides.

Sides' plan is to create a local-food center at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary that would eventually feature cooking and gardening classes, food trucks, and the processing and consumption of locally produced food. Check out a video with more about the concept below.

"I'm so excited about seeing this idea become a reality because everybody wins – with our Urban Oasis food hub and event center we'll create jobs, improve health, and foster a sense of community among people and this uniquely Saint Paul place," Sides said in a press release.

Sides' idea beat out two other finalists, the Pioneer Press notes:

– The St. Paul Center for Creative Arts, submitted by Jack Ray of Minneapolis. The concept: Create an education center for young people to learn various crafts, from pottery to robotics to boat-building.

– The Art Train, submitted by Craig Blakely of St. Paul. The concept: Refurbish five rail cars for offices and working space for various creative businesses. The cars would be placed on abandoned tracks in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood, and the businesses would spur local economic growth.

The contest was sponsored by the St. Paul Foundation, which launched the competition in February with a simple question for entrants: What would you do with $1 million to make Saint Paul great?

Here's more on the contest winner:

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