Charter school could get backyard farm

A local aquaponic garden program could garner funds and teaching moments for students at Oakland Avenue Charter School.

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Backyard Farm Express wants to establish an aquaponic garden on the grounds of Oakland Avenue Charter School, and representatives spoke at the June 11 Oakland Town Commission meeting in hopes of getting the elected officials’ support.

Co-owner Mark Pester said he has been in contact with OACS Principal Pam Dwyer, who has expressed an interest in having the farm. This would be the sixth farm built and managed by BFE; the last one was constructed at Hope Charter School, in Ocoee.

The cost to build the farm is about $39,000, and this is secured with local donors. Pester said when all the waterbeds are full of lettuce and the tomatoes and cucumbers are at their peak, this farm has the potential to earn up to $80,000 annually. Ten percent of the gross proceeds would go to the school. BFE provides the staff for the actual farming.

“Health belongs to everyone, not just the elite who can afford good food,” Pester said.

The commission gave the consensus for Pester to pursuit potential donors for the project.



• The commission postponed the vote on the site-plan amendment for The Avenue at Oakland apartment complex. This is Neighborhood 1 of the Longleaf at Oakland planned-unit development which encompasses about 16 acres and is proposed to hold 350 multi-family dwellings.

• Under the consent agenda, commissioners approved the expenditure of $108,818.15 to make amendments to the design of the roundabout planned on Oakland Avenue near West Colonial Drive. The funding will come from the accumulated transportation impact fees.

MetroPlan is providing funding for improvements to the roundabout design, but the town is responsible for design and permitting costs. The improvements will include changes to the intersection, an extra lane heading south, signal timing and rerouting of the West Orange Trail.

• Mayor Kathy Stark proclaimed June 11, 2019, Glenn Burns Day in the town of Oakland. Burns made extensive contributions to the town and neighboring communities. He wrote the application for Oakland Avenue to become a state-designated scenic byway, he documented the history of the town by interviewing lifelong Oakland residents, he protected the history of the African-American Historic Cemetery, and he served on the board of the Friends of Lake Apopka. Burns died May 11 of Lewy body dementia.

• The commission passed a resolution that allows the Oakland Police Department to increase its fingerprinting fee from $5 to $10 per fingerprint card.

• A second resolution passed will set additional fees for preliminary architectural and site-plan review. The fees are as follows: $25 application fee plus $250 deposit for consultant fees for residential review and $50 and $500 for non-residential review.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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