Those attending the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley’s steering committee meeting on April 18 had the pleasure of hearing from Vine & Fig gardens manager Cornelius Frantz. He has been here less than a year and already making great strides to create edible food forests and composting opportunities accessible to area residents.
CAAV steering committee member Charlie Strickler introduced Cornelius having gotten acquainted with him during many hours of driving together last winter to spend time at Standing Rock to protest the North Dakota Access Pipeline.
With roots in Michigan, stints in Seattle and Pittsburg, and three years in Sarajevo, Bosnia working for the Mennonite Central Committee, Cornelius brings a diverse background to his endeavors here. Connecting with Vine & Fig’s work to
create “… sustainable systems that care for the earth, empower people, educate and inspire, and build the foundation for a nonviolent lifestyle,” he uses phrases like “voluntary poverty,” “downward mobility,” and “questioning cultural burdens,” as good things to strive toward. He lives in the Vine & Fig house on N. Main St. with his wife Shauna. He pedals the compostables from the Food Co-op and the Little Grill up to three times a week to the Vine & Fig gardens to enrich the soil there for the extensive gardens which he is transitioning to perennial crops through permaculture design processes.
Along with some recent graduates of a weekend-long fruit tree school held at Vine & Fig last February, Cornelius hopes to create a demo edible forest garden on some unused Harrisonburg Parks and Rec property along Blacks Run and establish a tree nursery to supply other neighborhoods and churches with perennial food orchards. To that end the group has been grafting fruit and nut trees.
Cornelius has identified 12 potential sites to host combination fruit gardens and compost collection sites to nourish the gardens.
There are many challenges to accomplishing his goals, but we’ll be rooting for him and his hard work to help make our community more resilient and equitable.
– Adrie Voors, for the CAAV Coalition-Building Committee, April 29, 2017
Each month, the CAAV Coalition-Building Committee invites a community member or group to present to the CAAV steering committee about projects with which they are involved. We are grateful to be working with so many other groups and individuals passionate about creating a more resilient, healthy and just world.