Our Vine and Fig Sustainable Living Center combines sustainable agriculture with ground-breaking backyard environmental projects and outreach to the community. We welcome visitors, interns, and groups from congregations, schools, and colleges, and we engage in activism around issues related to justice for the earth and its people.Other programs and projects include:
See below for more information on all these programs--or come and visit! We're located at 715 N. Main Street, these efforts are coordinated by Tom Benevento (photo at right), who is joined by an able crew of co-workers, apprentices and a steady stream of volunteers from schools, colleges and the surrounding community.
Check out our Apprenticeship opportunities!
Along with its on-site innovations related to farming, water use, waste disposal and more, our efforts in Harrisonburg aim to help the community as a whole mitigate the impacts of climate change. We are leaders in the creation of a 1.5 mile bicycle/pedestrian Greenway, and work with the city to set and implement goals measuring and limiting for city-wide carbon emissions. NCP staff also work with local church groups and others to create neighborhood garden spaces for locally produced organic food and to plant trees around the city to offer shade, beauty, fruit production and carbon sequestration.
In addition, the market garden seeks to collaborate with people in "difficult life circumstances" (our most marginalized in Harrisonburg , generally people who are homeless or unemployable). These folks are Creation Care Apprentices within our sustainable living center program. In this capacity they have a chance to gain job reference and experience, make a small amount of income (from sales at the farmers market along with a small initial amount of funds from one of our grants), and gain a healing experience with the earth. The market garden is local, organic, and the produce transported by bicycle trailers. Our goal is to create healing and meaningful work for people in need, chemical/pollution free food, and zero emissions food production.
NCP also offers Permaculture Design Courses to area residents. Based on patterns and processes of ecological systems, permaculture is the art and science of creating healthy and resilient human environments abundant in food, water, shelter, energy, and community. These courses focus specifically on exploring sustainability strategies for the Shenandoah Valley, and participants emerge as a thriving practitioner network, each with the ability to design and build gardens, homes, and communities modeled on living ecosystems.
Undoing Global Warming campaign
The focus of Undoing Global Warming is to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint of the buildings in which we live, meet and worship. Even more so than car use, heating and cooling homes and other structures is a leading consumer of energy in the United States. And, of course, with energy consumption comes a whole host of other outcomes, including:
That's where the Undoing Global Warming project comes in! NCP offers congregations, camps and other organizations the opportunity to examine energy usage in their facilities, homes and grounds. Plans for a weekend workshop are made in consultation with the hosting group, depending on their needs and interests (see sample schedule below).
A modest honorarium is requested to offset NCP's expenses for this program. Groups are also invited to contribute a portion of the money they save from greater efficiencies toward healing our planet and enhancing the well-being of our neighbors.
Tom Benevento gives leadership to our Undoing Global Warming campaign based out of our Spring Village Ecology Center in Harrisonburg VA. Tom brings the expertise of a degree in Sustainable Systems, along with years of practical experience in the US and Central America.
Here's how a weekend might go:
Saturday morning: Earth-Friendly Facilities
With the pertinent committees and/or building manager we assess the buildings and grounds in regard to energy and water conservation, alternative energies, waste reduction, food preparation, transportation, and eco-landscaping. Together we explore cost effective and simple techniques that will reduce energy and water consumption and reduce waste thus becoming better stewards of the environment, reducing global warming gases, saving money, and inspiring others.
Saturday or Sunday afternoon: Hands-on workshops
Learn about and discuss topics such as composting techniques and organic soil fertility; spiral herb gardens; home eco-cleaners; building a wood-fired or solar oven; deep mulch keyhole gardening (the no watering/no weeding garden); solar food dryer; forest gardening; organic pest control; season extender gardening; edible landscaping; political and institutional actions.
Saturday afternoon or evening: Earth-Friendly Home
In the home of a volunteer (and including up to 15 other observers) we will use activities and discussion to explore the many diverse and simple techniques for a more earth-friendly home that we can all begin implementing today. This workshop includes energy and water conservation, alternative energy, waste reduction and toxins, food, and transportation. We will also discuss connections between our lifestyles and people of the Poor World.
Sunday morning presentation: The Sacredness of Life
On Sunday morning, we are available to give a presentation on faith-based, earth-friendly living or other topic suitable to the setting
In many ways our earth is sending out an emergency cry as humans continue to use it beyond its capacity. Religious communities and other concerned groups can play a leading role in responding to the call for help by making simple yet important changes at home and with other facilities. Plan for an Undoing Global Warming weekend in your community soon!