ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A nonprofit that won $1 million to promote the growing and cooking of local food in St. Paul is disbanding after three years.
The Pioneer Press reported that the St. Paul Foundation awarded the money to Urban Oasis in 2013 in a contest for ideas on how to improve life in the inner city.
St. Paul Foundation spokesman Andy Goldman-Gray said the foundation is sad to see the organization will no longer be running but that it’s glad some programs will still continue.
“We are disappointed that the organization will not be around,” said Goldman-Gray. “But we are happy to learn that the programs will be taking on new lives.”
Urban Oasis founder Tracy Sides said in a statement last week that the group will dissolve Dec. 31.
Her original idea was to transform an abandoned four-story building in the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary into a food workers’ cooperative, cafe, event center and commercial catering kitchen.
However estimated cost for her idea came in at $9 million. Later after realizing she could not use the land for her business, Sides decided to economize her idea.
Sides opened a street-corner kitchen in St. Paul with her winnings and launched programs that taught nutritious cooking and encouraged local food production.
Jon Pratt, director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, thinks maybe due to the publicity Urban Oasis received, possible donors might have thought the business didn’t need any more help.
“Often, you have a great idea,” said Pratt. “So who else thinks you have a great idea? Who else could financially support this idea?”
Sides said the Urban Oasis business model was unsustainable and spent all of the contest money it received.
Goldman-Gray said the foundation does not expect a refund from any of the proposals even if they proved to be unworkable.