Housing + Park = Farm
Founded in 2011 by Oakland native Kelly Carlisle, a U.S. Navy veteran and master gardener, the Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project works to create safe outdoor space for kids and families. The non-profit organization’s name is Latin for “Deeds not Words,” signaling the dedicated action required to change one’s situation. What started as a small .25-acre garden in the under-used public park next to the then-brand-new Tassafaronga Village housing has now grown into a fully functioning community farm with youth programs and neighborhood food services for nearly 500 people.
Acta Non Verba (ANV) was established in East Oakland, California, alongside Tassafaronga Village, a seven-acre affordable housing community designed and planned by David Baker Architects. Completed in 2010, the new housing community reconnected broken urban links—restoring access to the local library, school, and community center—and helped set the stage for revitalizing the neighborhood. A big part of that revitalization came from the relationship with the fledgling urban farm.
The refreshed Tassafaronga Village was a partnership between the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) and Equity Community Builders, who developed 157 new affordable homes ranging from studios to 3-bedroom units to replace extremely outmoded WW2-era public housing. The plan also incorporates 22 Habitat for Humanity East Bay townhomes for first-time homeowners who contributed to their construction. Tassafaronga Village holds two top-tier sustainability certifications: LEED for Homes Platinum (2011) for the OHA housing and LEED New Development Gold (2008) for the neighborhood, one of the first projects to be recognized with this certification.