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.
Last Fall they were awarded a grant from the Oakland Thrives’ Youth Joy and Wellness Fund to their six-week summer camp, a three-day Fall Camp, and week-long Winter and Spring Break camps where kids can just be kids. This fund, a project of Oakland Thrives and administered by PVF, supports innovative and creative approaches to youth mental health and wellness in Oakland.
Camp ANV is the centerpiece of ANV programming. Incorporating lessons learned from running ten years of successful seasonal camps, our program design is a purposeful mix of games, academic skills-building, meals, field trips, and outdoor time. Youth leave with habits for a healthier lifestyle and vocational skills, such as organic farming and pest management. All camps are available to families regardless of their ability to pay registration fees.
Health and wellbeing have always been at the core of ANV’s youth programs, and we ensured that this focus continued even as we transitioned our programs online in summer 2020. We incorporated healthy cooking classes, physical exercise through dance, and “mindful mornings”, in which the kids were encouraged to care for their mental health.
In 2021 and 2022, Acta Non Verba was able to conduct in-person Camp ANV sessions in the spring, summer, fall, and winter — serving over 225 low-income youth in East Oakland annually. In addition, ANV offered an After School Program five days a week until 6 pm – serving 23 East Oakland students. We knew that healthy living and nutrition were more crucial than ever, especially for youth whose physical and mental health were compromised from being isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. We thus focused on relationshipbuilding, social emotional learning, and fostering joy in our campers.
Youth need places to channel their creativity and imagination. Kids often are still developing the ability to verbally communicate their feelings and emotions, so art can be a great way for them to express themselves and support mental and emotional well-being.
ANV’s ¼ acre farm, as well as Camp ANV’s seasonal camps, are much-needed safe and healing spaces. They are spaces where children can make new friends, and truly be themselves.