Save the Monarchs Tour

One of the monarchs we raised at Vermont Woods Studios last summer.
The monarch butterfly brought Jose Luis Alvarez, Francois Simard and me together in our efforts to help save it from extinction.

Can 3 World Leaders & 3 Small Businesses Save the Monarch Butterfly?

Last month President Obama met with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss climate change and how our three countries can save essential pollinators from extinction.  Independent of that meeting, another Mexican, a Canadian and an American were working on the same thing.  Jose Luis Alvarez, Francois Simard and I somehow connected because we all love nature and believe that small businesses can & should have a positive effect on the world around us.  The part of nature we’re focused on is the beautiful (and endangered) monarch butterfly.

Jose Luis and me at the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Mexico
Jose Luis and me at the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Mexico.  These sanctuaries have been degraded by illegal logging, climate change and freak winter storms.  In 1996 the butterflies occupied 18 hectares of forest here but today only 1-4 hectares.

The Mexican

I met Jose Luis Alvarez in Michoacan, Mexico in March of this year.  After learning about the monarch’s plunging population and the ongoing loss of their winter forest habitat in Mexico, I decided to find out what we (a company founded on a mission of forest conservation) could do to help. I did some online research and discovered that Jose Luis Alvarez had created a small non-profit business with the goal of planting millions of trees in the deforested region of Mexico where the butterflies overwinter.  I contacted him through his board of directors at Forests for Monarchs  (FFM) and flew to Mexico to see his work.  The extent of deforestation is so sad.  Jose Luis is working mightily against illegal logging, climate change & other factors but he needs help.

Jose Luis explained to me that FFM is funded by donations and in order to continue planting trees, more donors must become aware of the monarch’s plight.  So I suggested that he come to Vermont & New England to raise awareness about his reforestation work.  Since that day, we’ve been working like crazy, putting together the Save the Monarchs tour.

Francois Simard of Encore 3 is wearing a parka that's filled with milkweed fiber insulation. It was worn on an expedition to Mt Everest!
Francois Simard of Encore 3 is wearing a parka that’s filled with milkweed fiber insulation. It was worn on an expedition to Mt Everest!

The Canadian

Last summer while I was reading about the monarch’s over-wintering grounds in Mexico, I heard a story on Vermont Public Radio about a man named Francois Simard.  He had started a small business called Encore 3 which was developing technologies to use milkweed fibers for insulation and oil spill clean up products.  Francois was encouraging farmers in Vermont to plant milkweed commercially so he could purchase it.  Wow!

We had been growing milkweed (the monarch’s summer habitat) at Vermont Woods Studios and giving it away to our friends and neighbors but growing it commercially was obviously going to be a much more successful strategy to help the monarchs.  So I contacted Francois and drove up to Granby, Quebec to learn more about how his company could help with monarch conservation in Vermont.  I invited Francois to meet Jose Luis at our Burlington, VT stop on the Save the Monarchs tour.  He agreed to come and also to make a presentation about his work with commercial milkweed.

The American

As for the American, that would be me… someone who’s just stubbornly bent on proving that small businesses founded on a mission of goodwill can survive and thrive in today’s ultra competitive world of e-commerce.  If you share this belief, help us make the Monarch tour a success by attending one of our shows.  We’ll be at prominent venues throughout New England (including the Boston Museum of Science, Vermont’s ECHO Center in Burlington, Harvard, Yale, the Mass Horticultural Society, Audubon Greenwich & the Philadelphia Zoo) between August 25 and September 3 (dates & times listed here).  Join us!  The monarch has become an international symbol for environmental conservation throughout North America & it’s hoping you will become a part of it’s renaissance.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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