About Peggy Farabaugh

She is a CEO who brakes for salamanders, has bottle-fed rescued squirrels and spent her vacation building furniture for a rural school in Costa Rica. She believes in the future and in the people who will build it. A former distance-learning professor at Tulane University with a master’s in environmental health & safety, she turned an interest in forest conservation and endangered species into a growing, local business. She delivers rainforest statistics at breakneck speed, but knows how to slow down and appreciate the beauty of a newly finished piece of heirloom furniture.
Modern Craftsman furniture, handmade in Vermont. Quality USA made!
Vermont is America’s last great bastion of consummate craftsmanship. The Green Mountain state boasts over 2000 small furniture making companies. They’re keeping the spirit of American craft alive! Commission Vermont made furniture from one of the masters in The Guild and you’ll enjoy your investment everyday as it’s value appreciates over time.

New flash: the stock market’s volatile and the price of gold just took another tumble.  Here’s an idea… invest a portion of your money in something you can literally appreciate every day:  handmade Craftsman Furniture!  I was looking on the Stickley Museum website this morning and noticed that Gustav Stickley’s “Columbus Ave Sideboard” which he crafted in 1900 for his own home was sold by Stickley’s heirs to Barbara Streisand in 1988 for $363,000. Eleven years later, Barbara re-sold the sideboard to an un-named buyer at a Christie’s auction for $596,500.  $233,500 in appreciation just over 10 years– that’s not a bad rate of appreciation is it?

Bedroom furniture: Craftsman and Shaker style. Made in Vermont, USA
It’s not Gustav Stickley and it’s not going to sell for half a million dollars at Christies.  But it is high quality, solid cherry wood furniture, made in the USA by Vermont craftsmen and women.  And it’s guaranteed for a lifetime of service.

The Stickley museum website highlights other antique arts & crafts, mission and craftsman furniture pieces that have shown tremendous appreciation in value, including:

Now… original antique furniture is not for everyone.  Most of us would probably prefer to have beautiful, high quality furniture that we’re not afraid to use.  Which brings me to Vermont.  It is America’s last great bastion of consummate craftsmanship.  The Green Mountain state boasts over 2000 small furniture making companies.  The cream of the crop are members of an elite association of master level furniture makers, The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers.  Tomorrow’s antiques can be commissioned from Guild members today, with a good bit of certainty that their value will increase over time.  Check out The Guild’s website and visit one of their shows or tour their workshops for an up close and personal view of truly fine craftsmanship.

Mission Style Buffet Sideboard
This Vermont made Mission style buffet & sideboard, is handcrafted of real solid cherry wood and guaranteed to last a lifetime.

We have a selection of craftsman furniture for sale at Stonehurst, our furniture and home decor showroom and we can also help you map out a tour of Guild members studios, focusing on those best suited to the type of furniture you’re looking for.

When you invest your money in tomorrow’s Vermont made antiques, you are also investing in American jobs and in the future of American craft.  What other kind of investment could give you this kind of appreciation?

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.

Real Cherry Wood | Bedroom Furniture
This Natural Vermont Spindle Bed is shown in real, natural cherry wood.  It’s pretty new in the photo so it’s light in color.  After a few months of exposure to sunlight, the furniture will darken to a rich reddish brown color.

If you’ve made your way to this post, chance are you’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to find real cherry wood furniture.  Why do you suppose real cherry is so hard to find?  Well, it’s kind of like trying to find real American made furniture right?  Both are relatively rare in this age of cheap imports and they can easily get obscured by the mass marketing of knock-offs.

Real Cherry Furniture 101

Real honest cherry furniture is still being handcrafted in Vermont and in fact, it is the wood of choice for over half of our customers.  As such we get asked a lot of questions about it.  The curiosity of our customers has made us experts in cherry wood and cherry furniture & we’re happy to share everything we’ve learned.  Here are a few articles you might be interested in:

  1. Natural Cherry Wood Furniture: What Color Is It… Really?
  2. Cherry fundamentals: heartwood, sapwood, color, grain and mineral deposits
  3. Solid Cherry Wood Furniture: Is it Real?
  4. Cherry Wood Furniture: Where Does It come From?
  5. Solid Cherry Wood Furniture: 3 Ways To Tell If It’s Real
  6. Natural Cherry Wood Furniture Characteristics: Grain Variations
  7. Natural Cherry Wood Furniture Characteristics: Color
  8. Natural Cherry Wood Furniture Characteristics: Mineral Deposits
  9. Solid Cherry Furniture: 18 American Made Collections From Vermont

Faux Cherry Furniture 101

What color is real cherry wood?
So you’re not sure what the color of real cherry is? Well, no wonder! When I just googled “real cherry wood” these images are what came up. Quite a variation, isn’t it?  Learn how to tell cherry from it’s imitators here.

Don’t be fooled by the plethora of stores that sell faux cherry knock offs and label them as “real cherry wood”.  What you’re buying at those stores is actually rubber wood, poplar, alder or any number of fast-growing wood alternatives.  They are often illegally clear-cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests, then bleached, texturized and stained to look like cherry.  Why would companies like Wayfair, Crate and Barrel, Amazon, Walmart, Overstock, Macy’s, JC Penny’s risk their reputations by engaging in such false advertising?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook.

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.

Eco Friendly Wood Furniture | Handmade in VT, USA
This Woodland Table and Modern Mission Dining Chairs are made from solid cherry wood, that was sustainably harvested in North America.

We started Vermont Woods Studios out of a passion for forest conservation.  It was this one astounding statistic that really lit a fire under me:

Every second an acre of rainforest is lost forever

Along with trees, some of my favorite iconic wildlife species that live in the rainforest are being lost.  For example, all the great cats (lions, tigers, leopards, cheetas, etc) are critically endangered as are all the great apes (gorillas, chimps, orangutans, etc).  Our planet is actually losing over 100 species/day.  The cause is habitat destruction.  Rainforest trees are being clearcut for timber to make cheap furniture and flooring.

Eco Friendly Wood Furniture: What It Is

So to me, eco friendly wood furniture is first and foremost, furniture that’s made from sustainably harvested wood.  More specifically, North American wood (recycled or newly milled) that’s been obtained through legitimate local partners, thus minimizing transport distances and helping regional economies (and greatly reducing fuel usage and carbon emissions).

Other aspects of eco friendly furniture relate to how a tree is transformed into, say… a table or a bed.  Vermont furniture makers use both traditional and modern methods to maximize the yield from each tree and minimize (or eliminate) wood waste. All wood processing by-products are put to some type of use here in Vermont. For example: sawdust is used by local farmers for animal bedding and wood chips are used for heating.

Non-toxic furniture finishes are also characteristic of eco friendly furniture.

Eco Friendly Wood Furniture: What It Is NOT

Unlike many large American furniture companies, we do not consider imported wood furniture eco friendly.  The global timber trade has been infiltrated by organized crime to the point where illegal wood (often clear cut from the rainforest) is pervasive throughout the imported wood furniture and flooring industry.  Much of it is accompanied by counterfeit documents labeling it as green certified by the Forest Stewardship Council FSC (here are a couple articles reporting on this: Liquidating the Forests and Corruption Stains the Global Timber Trade).

National Geographic recently reported on a UN study showing that the global environmental crime industry (with illegal logging being the primary component) has now surpassed the global drug trade in terms of estimated annual revenue.  “We have regulations, but we need to inform consumers,” said Indonesian official Budi Susanti, “if buyers won’t buy the products that aren’t sustainable, there won’t be demand.”

How to Know the Difference

A google search for “eco friendly wood furniture” turns up all sorts of  questionable results from big, multinational companies that pledge to use green certified wood.  Of course your best bet would be to find something made locally from local wood.  But if that’s not possible or practical for you, any furniture that’s truly 100% Made in America is likely to be an environmentally friendly choice.

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.

Autumn in Vermont's Woodlands
Check out VermontVacation.com’s Fall Foliage Forecaster to see where today’s most vibrant leaf peeping is.

Autumn is an exciting season in Vermont! Travelers from all over the world journey here to see our maple trees all dressed up in their most vibrant colors of red, yellow and orange.  What people don’t see is the behind the scenes activity of Vermont’s land-owners and forestry professionals that keeps Vermont’s woodlands healthy for future generations.

At Vermont Woods Studios our professional forester, Lynn Levine is the key person who helps us steward the 109 acres of woodland in our care.  Lynn is an environmental educator, tracker and a consulting forester.  She visited us yesterday to jump start a logging process that will thin out our woodlands, making healthier habitat for resident wildlife.  While here, Lynn dropped off a couple copies of her new book on tracking mammals in Vermont:

Lynn Levine - Managing Vermont's Woodlands
Lynn Levine, our professional consulting forester is also an environmental educator and author.  Her newest book is a waterproof pocket guide on Mammal Tracks and Scat.

Another professional who works behind the scenes to keep Vermont’s woodlands alive and healthy is Kathleen Wanner.  Kathleen is the Executive Director of the Vermont Woodlands Association and also of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association.  She provides leadership and guidance in many of Vermont’s forest conservation programs including the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative.  Today we received our American Tree Farm Certification which was facilitated by Kathleen.  This is an independent third party testament to our application of 8 standards of sustainability on our land.

American Tree Farm Certification
American Tree Farm Certification is an independent third party testament to our application of 8 standards of sustainability on our land.

Vermont is lucky to have many dedicated forestry professionals and land owners who are passionate about conserving our woodlands for future generations.  It’s not an easy job, as unsustainable development is certainly tempting and lucrative in the short term.

So as you’re out enjoying the beautiful Fall colors of Vermont’s woodlands, keep in mind the connection between sustainable management of the forest and the wood products you may purchase.  Wood furniture, flooring, firewood, dimensional lumber, wood pellets, paper and maple syrup are all products that rely on sustainable forest management.  Support the efforts of Vermont’s sustainable forestry industry by asking vendors where your forest products come from and if they are certified as sustainable.

Next up: our Columbus Day Cherry Furniture Sale

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.

Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed
A Monarch butterfly on milkweed.  Photo by Elizabeth Howard, founder of Journey North.

The Mind-Boggling, Magical Journey of a Monarch

Monarch butterflies migrate from Vermont (and other northern regions) 2500 miles south to Mexico every year at this time.  In the spring and summer they return- that’s an annual journey of 5000 miles! The butterflies migrate to the exact same tree each and every year.  In order to make the trip without literally falling apart, they reproduce 4 times en-route so it’s actually the 4th generation that returns to Mexico every winter.

The Monarch Population is in Free Fall

Last month I wrote about monarchs and the 90% drop in their population over the last few years.  “In human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio” according to Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.  The free fall is largely due to recent decimation of the butterfly’s habitat and food source, milkweed.

Milkweed and Monarch Butterflies | Vernon, Vermont
I recruited (somewhat skeptical) staff members at Vermont Woods Studios to help collect milkweed seeds.  We gathered over 1000 seedpods and separated the seeds from their fuzzy parachutes.

A Milkweed SeedBank is Born in Vermont

After researching the Monarch’s plight, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t at least try to do something to help.  So last weekend I spent much of my time wandering through an empty lot on Rt 142 in Vernon, collecting milkweed seeds.  I recruited Dennis, Kelsey and Nina to help me.  Realtor, David Berrie of Berrie Real Estate in Newfane, VT owns the lot and he was kind enough to allow us to “take all the milkweed you want!”  I think that ended up being about 1000 seedpods.  The Nature Institute estimates there are an average of 226 seeds in each milkweed pod so we probably harvested around a quarter of a million seeds.  We’ll keep them on hand for awhile in case anyone in the area would like to plant some.  Otherwise we’ll donate the seeds to Monarch Watch, an organization that maintains a free milkweed seed bank.

Milkweed Seed Bank at Stonehurst
Even Pepper pitched in as we worked well into the night hours separating seeds.

Sowing the Seeds:  A Trial Run

Sowing Milkweed Seeds at Malhana Farm
Annette and Fia helped me with a trial run at Malhana Farm.  It was a beautiful Fall day for planting milkweed!

Annette volunteered to sow milkweed seeds in a couple of her pastures at Malhana farm and I did the same in the meadows at Stonehurst.  Now we wait until the spring to see what comes up.

I hope you’ll think the monarch’s mind-boggling, magical phenomenon is worth conserving!  Please spread the word and join scientists, conservationists, teachers, road crews and nature lovers in planting milkweed in backyards, gardens, fields and highway medians. Need seeds?  Let me know on Facebook, or email me (Peggy@VermontWoodsStudios.com).

To learn more, visit the Journey North website, founded by Elizabeth Howard of Norwich, VT or any of these organizations that are working hard to keep the Monarch alive:

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.