December 4, 2019
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An urban youth farm in Oakland provides food and hope for residents

Acta Non Verba gives kids in this Bay Area food desert a safe space to learn about and grow nutritious food.

Acta Non Verba founder Kelly Carlisle was sick of reading the same headlines about her community. One of America’s most dangerous cities or Crime Capital often accompanied articles about Oakland, California. So in 2011, she decided to do something about it.

“What if we made a sanctuary where kids could come and just do kid stuff: draw pictures, do art, dance, cook, have delicious food,” she said. “When I started Acta Non Verba it was that same thought in mind.”

[ Read more: Nominate a nonprofit for the 2020 Renewal Awards ]

Carlisle, a Navy veteran and a Master Gardener, put her skills to use and launched an urban youth farm where children and their families can experience a safe and healthy learning environment. Young people from the East Oakland community get to learn about farming and help grow nutritious food that feeds their community.

They even get to reap the benefits of what they sow. The produce is sold to local restaurants and all of those dollars are placed in special accounts for the kids.

Today, Acta Non Verba (Latin for “deeds, not words”) now runs three farms in East Oakland, a low-income community where nearly all of the local students qualify for free and reduced lunches.

“They deserve clean air. They deserve to be outside and to be told that they have within them the potential to be anything.”

Earlier this year, Acta Non Verba was named one of the five nonprofits to win a 2019 Renewal Award. They were recognized with the Allstate Youth Empowerment Award. Each organization won $40,000 in funding from The Atlantic and Allstate.

Some of the funds will go to start a cooperative grocery store said Carlisle.

“A community-owned grocery store will bring education, it will bring locally-grown produce,” she said. “It gives folks pride of place.”

We visited the urban youth farm recently to see the kids at work. Watch that in the player above.

Learn how you can donate to Acta Non Verba.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.