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.
Right now at this very moment, one of earth’s most amazing natural wonders is taking place in Mexico. Nearly 100 million monarch butterflies from all over the USA and Canada have migrated south to the mountains of Central Mexico where they are over-wintering prior to their return flight this Spring. We’ve described the Monarch migration in previous blogs– it’s the most complex migration pattern of any known species on earth.
Monarch Butterflies Are on the Brink of Extinction
Over the past 20 years the monarch population has declined by 90 percent. During the winter of 1996-1997, scientists estimated there were a billion monarchs over-wintering in Mexico. An estimate from last year found only about 35 million, a number so low that several environmental organizations are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify monarch butterflies as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
You Can Help Save Them
Love nature? Here are a couple ways you can help save the amazing Monarch butterfly from extinction:
Help Restore Monarch Habitat in the USA and Canada
Monarchs need milkweed and nectar plants to survive and thrive during the summer months they spend in the US and Southern Canada. We’ve written many blogs about how to plant milkweed and we even have milkweed seeds we’ll be happy to send you if you’d like to get involved.
Help Restore Monarch Habitat in Mexico
At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve allied with the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program LCHPP in an effort to Plant a Million Trees every year in the Monarch’s overwintering area in Michoacan, Mexico. I’ll be writing more about LCHPP, a leading organization in the race to save the Monarch, but for a glimpse of their work check out this video.
Spirit of Butterflies Tour
For the adventurous nature lover, here’s another way to help save the Monarchs. Contact Maraleen Manos-Jones who works with LCHPP and sign up for the trip of a lifetime: a tour of the Monarch butterflies over-wintering forest habitat in Michoacan, Mexico. Leading the tour will be Jose Luis Alvarez, co-founder of LCHPP and renowned expert on Monarchs and reforestation of their habitat. I’m taking the tour at the end of February… why don’t you join me? I’ll provide details in my next blog but in the meantime, you can check out what other travelers have said about visiting monarch over-wintering sites on TripAdvisor.
Why Does A Furniture Company Care?
Vermont Woods Studios was founded on a mission of forest conservation. From the beginning we set out not only to provide our customers with the best value & quality for Vermont made wood furniture but also to conserve the forests that provide wood for furniture. That mission of forest conservation coupled with my history of studying Monarchs with Kendall and Riley when they were little, made this project with LCHPP and Spirit of Butterflies a perfect fit. I hope you’ll join us as we work to help bring this iconic species back and conserve them for future generations.
Ken and I started this Vermont furniture store 10 years ago with the belief that businesses have a responsibility to make the world a better place. In developing a company that sells handcrafted wooden furniture we wanted to raise awareness about forest conservation and persuade customers to purchase furniture made from sustainably harvested, North American wood. A decade later, we’re not naive enough to think we’ve changed the world but perhaps we’ve changed a tiny part of it and that feels good. Here are some highlights of what our team accomplished this year in support of our local community and our environmental mission:
Plant a Billion Trees Project
Monarch Habitat Restoration Project
Vernon’s Giving Tree
Connecticut River Clean-up
Meals on Wheels
Vermont Food Bank Thanksgiving Project
River Arts Gallery Auction
Wags to Riches Auction
Environmental Education at Vernon Elementary School
Providing Toys & Food for Kids in the Amazon Rainforest
As we close out 2015, I extend my thanks to the customers, staff members, furniture makers, family, friends, neighbors and business partners whose support made the accomplishments of this small Vermont furniture store possible. Here’s to your health and happiness in 2016!
From all our families at Vermont Woods Studios to you and your family, we send our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season. Here are a few pics of what Christmas looks like at Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont. My thanks to the eternally patient and tolerant staff members who humor me along when I get my pesky iphone out and start snapping…
Please send us your holiday photos or post them on our Facebook. Merry Christmas!
Our showroom at Stonehurst features all Vermont made home decor items, such as:
Furniture, handcrafted by Lyndon Furniture in Lyndonville, VT, Copeland Furniture in Bradford, VT and a handful of small to medium sized woodworking studios around the state
Lighting, hand-forged by Hubbardton Forge in Castleton, VT
Glassware, hand-blown by Simon Pearce in Quechee, VT
So we’ve been thinking about carrying Vermont made textiles for awhile. Fortunately, we’re just an hour and a half away from one of the premiere textile brands on the planet… Anichini! Who knew the Green Mountain State had such a world class assembly of home decor?
Anichini’s Company Store
The Company Store has samples of almost all Anichini linens and we had a wonderful time seeing and feeling these beautiful linens. Nina, Rebecca and I were like kids in a candy store. Heather and Noelle were the resident experts and they helped us select the products we thought would most appeal to our customers at Stonehurst.
Rebecca already has a nice selection of Anichini linens displayed in our showroom at Stonehurst. Nina will be taking professional quality photos over the next several months. She and Tristan will then be posting items for sale on our website. You can bookmark the Home Decor section of our website and check in from time to time to see it all coming together. Better yet, visit us at 538 Huckle Hill Road in Vernon, Vermont to see Anichini linens in person. You’ll be glad you did!
How much do you love Christmas shopping? Are you someone who keeps an eye open all year long for just the right gift for each person on your list? Or do you wait till the last minute because you’d rather have a root canal than shop? Probably you’re somewhere in between but either way I submit to you that everyone loves to receive a beautiful, handcrafted gift for the holidays. So why not start (or finish) your holiday shopping at the 1st Annual Vernon Artisan Market? It’s a new and exciting local shopping event organized by artists and craftspeople throughout the town of Vernon.
Handmade Christmas Gifts
Many of the artisans will be set up in the Vernon Town Hall and others are inviting you into their studios to see how their handmade gifts are crafted. You’ll find a map of the studio tour on the Vernon town website. Artists include potter Bronna Zlochiver, jeweller/painter/graphic designer Margaret Shipman, floral designer Nancy Renaud of Barn Door Wreaths, artist/jeweller/painter Donna Scully, basket maker Sandy Harris, quilter Jean Carr, artist Barbara Emery Moseley and baker Carol Hammond. Vermont Woods Studios is on the tour too so come visit us at Stonehurst and start crossing off those names on your Christmas list!