New Community Project

Harrisonburg

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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:

 

  • Our Jubilee Carbon Farm is taking shape - a demonstration of                                                  larger-scale food production in an carbon-sequestering,                                                      eco-friendly way. Read all about it!

  • Local campaigns to promote alternative transportation,                                                  climate change mitigation and the greening of the city via                                                      food forests, school gardens and other eco-friendly programs.

  • We offer energy audits for congregations and other institutions                                                to save money nd reduce climate change impacts.

  • A completely renovated house on site welcomes people in                                            transition, as well as interns and longer-term community members.

  • The Stone House serves as home to a refugee family from an embattled part of the world.

  • We welcome students working on capstone projects, school groups, and service-oriented classes and clubs. 

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 left), 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

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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 were 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. 

 

Our Educational Outreach Program engages local school

children with learning to grow food for their schools and

communities. We not only hope to cultivate beans and

beets, but also a sense of wonder and appreciation for the

goodness of the earth - if we take good care of it. Kathy

Yoder coordinates this part of our work. 

 

GiveSolar is another project of NCP in Harrisonburg.

The program aims to offer solar energy to low-income folks

and nonprofit groups in the area. In 2020, GiveSolar was asked

by a board member of Central Valley Habitat for Humanity

to collaborate on a pilot project that aims to install solar on

HFH homes in the region. Jeff Heie leads this effort. 

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.

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Bicycles: rollin', rollin', rollin'....
A key focus of NCP Harrisonburg is to create a bicycling culture. This involves everything from working with community leaders to add more bike lanes to city streets to being the driving force behind a 2.5 mile Greenway Walk/Bike Path to painting a bicycling mural on a the side of a prominent building downtown. Then there's the Community Bicycle Shop, providing affordable transportation for all members of the community. Used bicycles are donated to the shop, then the bikes are refurbished and "sold" to customers in return for donated labor. NCP is also working with James Madison University students to promote the One Mile Challenge--inviting area residents to walk or bike to any destination under a mile. If successful, the program will be spread to other communities.

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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:

  • emissions that lead to global warming

  • power plant pollutants such as mercury and particulates, along with the chemicals that cause acid rain

  • mining and drilling practices that leave vast areas of our nation scarred, and other pristine areas under the constant threat of drilling

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.

 

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.

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At the request of our partner, Creative Solutions for the Environment, Tom Benevento led workshops on climate-resilient, non-chemical food production in rural communities in Malawi that had been hit hard by climate change.

Contact information for Harrisonburg programs:

Tom Benevento
910 Collicello 
Harrisonburg , VA 22802 
540-433-2363
beneventoncp@gmail.com