The Oasis Project

Published: 27-Aug-2018

The Oasis Project Market to Bring a Farmers Market to Downtown Erie

For years the population in Erie’s downtown core has not had access to healthy produce at reasonable prices at an indoor location that is open year-round. Into this food desert stepped the Oasis Project, the mission of which is to create a sustainable platform in the Erie community that emphasizes a direct connection between producer and consumer featuring sustainable practices and a diverse array of farm products, arts, crafts, and prepared foods, all produced within the Erie region.

The project is the brainchild of Faith Kindig, an office administrator with experience in the burgeoning field of urban agriculture, and Jonathan D’Silva, an attorney specializing in intellectual property and patent law.

D’Silva received assistance from Gannon SBDC when he set up his practice, which is located in the University’s Center for Business Ingenuity.

The building next door, a long-vacant former discount retail store, was ideally located and well-configured for an indoor farmers market.

Although SBDC does not traditionally work with nonprofit organizations, Center Director Maggie Horne realized the importance of the project to nascent downtown Erie revitalization efforts. She assisted with the development of a business plan and financial projections and worked with D’Silva and Kindig to get the project off the ground. As an instructor in Gannon’s Dahlkemper School of Business, she assigned their project to a student team from her marketing class to develop a marketing strategy.

Armed with that marketing plan, the Oasis Project secured the building and has begun work on interior renovations with an eye toward a fall 2018 opening date, just in time for the harvest season.

D’Silva and Kindig’s efforts were rewarded with a $200,000 Transformational Philanthropy 2.0 grant from the Erie Community Foundation. D'Silva said in an interview about the grant, "Everyone who walks by wants us to succeed, because they see the need right there, because they live right there."