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


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:

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 1.08.19 PM

2-ton smoker stolen from Twin Cities chef Thomas Boemer

Boemer is the chef behind restaurants including the popular Revival.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz says relief package is coming for Minnesota small businesses

Walz is prepared to call a special session and pass the package immediately.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Gov. Tim Walz COVID-19 press conference Monday

Walz will be introducing a new app that helps Minnesotans track COVID-19 exposures.

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 9.54.21 AM

Newly elected representative vows to flout Minnesota COVID-19 rules

He wrote to Gov. Tim Walz, inviting him to a backyard gathering ahead of Thanksgiving.

coronavirus, covid-19

Minnesota Hospital Association: We are out of time to be 'Minnesota Nice'

The group is launching an ad campaign that holds nothing back about the seriousness of the situation in Minnesota hospitals.

MSU-Mankato hockey, Minnesota State, Mavericks

1 game into season and MSU Mankato is halted by COVID-19

The Mavericks played Bemidji State on Sunday.

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 8.57.50 AM

Cowboys TD featured horrible non-tackle by Vikings cornerback

Number 26 wanted nothing to do with making that tackle.


Cub Foods joins urban farming venture in St. Paul

J&J Distributing and New York-based BrightFarms have teamed up to build a new 38,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse in St. Paul. It is expected to generate more than 350,000 pounds of fresh produce a year, employ six people and create 50 jobs during construction. Stillwater-based Cub Foods says the locally grown food will arrive on its store shelves this fall.