IN THE PRESS
YOUNG COOKS PROGRAM
Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project (ANV) elevates life in Oakland and beyond by challenging oppressive dynamics and environments through urban farming. Founded and led mainly by women of color from the surrounding neighborhood and larger community, ANV creates a safe and creative outdoor space for children, youth, and families in East Oakland, CA. ANV engages and strengthens young people’s understanding of nutrition, food production, and healthy living as well as strengthens their ties to the community.
Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project offers vital services in education, child care, economic empowerment, and access to green, safe spaces and healthy food to a community sorely lacking in these areas. The camp serves low-income African-American and Latino children in a community where local schools, Acorn-Woodland and Encompass, report that 99% of their students qualify for free and reduced school lunches. Only 60% of residents in the zip code are high school graduates or higher; only 7% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
This densely populated urban area suffers from pollution, urban blight, and high crime rates. Many residents fear allowing their children to play outside, resulting in severed ties between children and the natural world and a significant reduction in exercise. Only 17% of Latinos and African Americans in our county consume the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, in part due to lack of access. Our neighborhood is a USDA-defined ‘Food Desert’, with only 2 grocery stores within 3 miles providing limited fresh produce. Recent studies, like a 2007 Stanford University study, show that, with extensive exposure to poverty, violence, and institutionalized marginalization, “urban youth are twice as likely as soldiers returning from Iraq to have PTSD.…compared with children who suffered no adverse childhood experiences, those who experienced four or more had a 220% increase in heart disease, a 160% increase in diabetes and were 1,220% more likely to attempt suicide.”
Our Vision and Strategy
Imagine a child who has never seen carrots in the ground or screams in fright at a worm. This is the reality of many children we work with. We design our camps, after-school program, and monthly farm days so youth experience nature in a safe space, playing, learning, creating, and accessing healthy, nature-based experiences that will empower them to be educated, well-rounded stewards. We incentivize parent involvement to reinforce what is learned in the home.
Parents volunteer and lead field trips, like to Cal Academy of Sciences, and overnight camping trips, where kids hike, ID plants, learn Leave No Trace, tell stories around campfires, and study the stars, all within an hour of home. Youth eat organically grown produce from the farm, gaining skills to help cook healthy meals at home. They engage in the arts, cultural programs like drumming, and outdoor activities like field games and swimming. Youth plan, plant, and harvest culturally-relevant food on the farm, stewarding local green spaces and gaining vocational skills as they market and sell produce at our Farmstand. All profits are then deposited into participating youths’ educational savings accounts.