About Peggy Farabaugh

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.
El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve
This is the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve I’ll be visiting next week.  It’s a World Heritage Site that provides over-wintering for almost the entire gene pool of the monarch butterfly.  It is under assault by illegal loggers.  Photo courtesy of El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve.

At 7am on Sunday morning I’ll be boarding a flight to Morelia, Mexico. Woohoo! The trip evolved out of my obsession with forest conservation and the Monarch Butterfly. If you’re a frequent flyer on this blog, you’ve probably noticed we love environmental projects like this.

Monarchs roosting in oyamel trees in Michoacan, Mexico
It’s all about the forest conservation.  These oyamel trees at El Rosario are part of the last remaining habitat for Monarchs to over-winter in. We want to help protect them and reforest adjacent areas that have been destroyed.

The other day, Megan (our ace Marketing Maven) suggested I try to boil down some of my previous blogs and summarize why a Vermont furniture store would want to help save the Monarch Butterfly.  So here goes… the Top 4 reasons are:

The Environment Is Important To Us

It’s not just me.  At Vermont Woods Studios we are a community of nature lovers, idealists, world travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.  Most of us grew up in rural places and have had much interaction with butterflies, birds and other critters throughout our lives.  Monarchs are such a big, beautiful butterfly!  They were everywhere in Vermont.  It used to be practically a right of passage for kids to collect them and watch their metamorphosis every August.  Now they are extremely rare and we worry about that.

The Environment Is Important To Our Customers

Our customers have many options as to where they buy their furniture.  Often times they tell us that when it comes to the final decision, with all else being equal, they are looking for an environmentally responsible company.  We are trying to live up to that.

We Want to Change the World

A Vermont Furniture Store's Green Team
Margaret Mead said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Getting a paycheck is not enough for all the hard work that goes into making this Vermont furniture store a success.  We want to feel like our efforts matter.  Like there’s a purpose behind our work.

Planting milkweed in Vernon, Vermont | Restoring Monarch butterfly habitat
Milkweed.  We’ve been restoring Monarch habitat in Vermont.  But what difference will that make if the butterflies lose their over-wintering habitat in Mexico?

Changing the world is a little hard to get our arms around though.  But we can change a little part of it:  like restoring habitat for the Monarchs.  And that’s totally possible because in Vermont, Monarch habitat is primarily one plant, milkweed.  It’s easy… we collect milkweed seeds in the Fall and plant them in the Spring.  This year we’re hoping to have a sizable plot of milkweed habitat in the backyard here at Stonehurst.

We Believe Business Has a Responsibility to Make the World a Better Place

With our business behind us (founded on the mission of forest conservation) we don’t have to stop at planting milkweed in Vermont.  We can extend our conservation efforts.  We know that Monarchs don’t spend their winters here– they migrate to Mexico and roost in evergreen (oyamel) trees in the mountains of Michoacan.  Those oyamel trees are being illegally logged and the Monarch’s habitat is disappearing.

What difference does it make if we restore their habitat here in Vermont?  The species will still go extinct if they lose their winter habitat.  So that brings me back to my trip to Mexico. I’ll be working with Jose Luis Alvarez of the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program to help conserve existing forest habitat and replant what’s been destroyed.  You can find details here in last week’s blog.  By the way, there’s still time to join me on this adventure!

Monarchs

I’d love to hear what you think about butterflies, business and changing the world.  Please comment on Facebook or in the section below.  Thanks for reading.

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.

Kyle is the guy who makes our Vermont furniture showroom look great 365 days/year
Thanks, Kyle for getting up at 3am to make this pathway into our Vermont furniture showroom safe to walk on.

If you visited Vermont Woods Studios on this icy winter day, you would notice that the beautiful stone walkway leading to our furniture showroom is clear, dry & safe to walk on.  That’s because Kyle Vinton, our new Facilities Manager was up at 3:00 this morning, snow-blowing, shoveling and meticulously sanding to keep everyone safe on their way into work.

A Man of Many Talents

Kyle comes to us with many years of experience in a wide variety of roles.  He’s a graduate of Castleton University who holds a BS in Public Relations and a minor in Business.  Kyle’s worked in areas such as event coordination, retail management, loss prevention, inventory control, landscaping, lean manufacturing, maintenance, and shipping & receiving.

As Facilities Manager, he puts this diverse set of skills to good use, as every day here at Stonehurst brings a new challenge.  Our furniture showroom sits on 109 acres of managed woodlands and Kyle is in charge of maintaining it… winter, spring, summer and fall.  We share our land with customers and neighbors so they can enjoy Vermont’s sustainable outdoor lifestyle and that involves lots of work.  Not the least of which is weeding the forest garden and feeding the outdoor wood stove to keep us warm on this chilly day!

Kyle is the New Ken

Lucky for Ken… Kyle lives just down the road from Vermont Woods Studios and has graciously agreed to handle the inevitable emergencies that come up when maintaining any Vermont home (especially in the winter).  This, I want to say, has made Ken a much more lovable person!  For that ALL of us at Vermont Woods Studios say THANK YOU, Kyle.

Kyle is the proud dad of 4 adorable little boys who have been known to give him a hand at Stonehurst now and then. Thanks guys!
Kyle is the proud dad of 4 adorable little boys who have been known to give him a hand at Stonehurst now and then. Thanks guys!

A Bonafide Vermonter & Family Guy

Born and raised a Vermonter, Kyle grew up right here in Vernon.  He is one of a small, elite group of Vermonters, who’ve achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.  He loves being outdoors and enjoys camping, backpacking and hiking (all prerequisites for this job).

Kyle and Jessica
Kyle and Jessica

Kyle and his beautiful wife, Jessica met as freshmen in college 14 years ago and have recently returned to Vernon to raise their family.  Their 4 young sons are facilities managers in training at Stonehurst (word has it they will soon be welcoming a little sister into the crew so we’re excitedly anticipating that event).  Help me extend a warm welcome to Kyle Vinton on Facebook or stop by Stonehurst, shake his hand and admire his work in person!

 

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.

Mike Jenkins is our new manager of sales, customer service & operations at Vermont Woods Studios
Mike Jenkins is our new manager of sales, customer service & operations at Vermont Woods Studios.  He has many years of experience in this role, plus he’s a super nice guy with a great smile!  Please help us make Mike feel at home in the world of Vermont made furniture.

Our New Sales & Operations Manager

We have a new manager at Vermont Woods Studios.  Please put your hands together and help me welcome Mike Jenkins to our humble abode here at Stonehurst.  Mike has taken a brave step into the world of Vermont made furniture as our Manager of Sales, Customer Service and Operations.  It’s a big job but he has already proven he’s up to the challenge!  He will be leading, supporting, mentoring and backing up Sean, Rebecca, Loryn & Michelle.  I think they’re pretty happy and relieved to have Mike’s help especially since I was filling that spot temporarily for a number of months.

World Traveler

In case you were wondering what type of experience might prepare someone for this multi-faceted role at Vermont Woods Studios, I asked Mike to share a little bit about his background.  Here’s what I got.

Mike was born in Japan. Guess which one of these adorable children is him?
Mike was born in Japan to American parents who traveled the globe as social workers.  Guess which child is Mike ;)

Mike was born in Japan to a set of wonderful parents who traveled the globe as social workers affiliated with the The Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).  He was raised in several countries including the USA, Japan, India, Peru, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands.

An Enviable Career Path

Mike remembers his first job well: as a teenager, he and some friends opened a bar in the Canary Islands.  But only a very few lucky people get to be island bartenders forever.  So Mike eventually left the Canaries and moved to the USA where he met the love of his life and settled down in New England.  He began a career in retail with Crate and Barrel, a company he worked with for over 10 years, most recently in the role of Sales Manager at the Hartford store.

Mike % Juniper hiking in the Green Mountains of Vermont
Mike & Juniper hiking in the Green Mountains of Vermont.  Doesn’t get any better than that!

The Family Man

Today Mike, his wife Anne and their adorable daughter Juniper are settling into their new home across the river in New Hampshire.  They love being near family and the Green Mountains of Vermont.   Mike looks forward to the many joys of rural living, especially hiking, baking bread, making jam, home brewing and playing video games.

He is eager to to get to know our customers, craftspeople, shippers, vendors and all the other friends who make Vermont Woods Studios a special place.  Welcome aboard, Mike!  May we share many years of success together.

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 Butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico.  2016 tours are still available through Spirit of Butterflies Tours in coordination with Forests for Monarchs founder Jose Luis Alvarez.  Photo courtesy of Homero Gomez Gonzalez.

One of Earth’s Greatest Natural Wonders

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.

A Monarch butterfly we reared in Vermont
A Monarch butterfly we reared at Stonehurst, here in Vermont.  She could well be one of those in the photo above after making a 3000 mile migration from VT to Mexico last Fall.

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.

Reforestation of Monarch Habitat by LCHPP
Reforestation of the Monarch Habitat  in Michoacan, Mexico is being led by Jose Luis Alvarez of the La Cruz Habitat Protection program LCHPP (aka Forests for Monarchs).  I’m heading to Mexico in late February to work with Jose Luis.  You should join us!

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.

Join us on the Spirit of Butterflies tour Feb-March 2016
Join us on the Spirit of Butterflies tour Feb-March 2016. Photo courtesy of Homero Gomez Gonzalez.

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.

I took this photo 15 years ago when we were rearing wild monarchs in Vermont.
I took the photo of Kendall 15 years ago when we were rearing wild monarchs in Vermont.  Now there are none to be found.  Check out the link to National Geographic’s film about the monarch story.

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.

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.

2015 Accomplishments

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

 Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: conservation
Vermont Woods Studios was founded on the mission of forest conservation and since the beginning, we’ve partnered with The Nature Conservancy to plant a tree for each order we take.  This year it was well over 1000 trees.

Monarch Habitat Restoration Project

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: habitat restoration
Nina, Peggy and other team members planted native milkweed seeds for a project that’s restoring habitat for monarch butterflies in Southeastern Vermont.

Vernon’s Giving Tree

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: giving back
Megan and other team members worked with officials from the Town of Vernon to provide Christmas gifts to local families in need.

Connecticut River Clean-up

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: river clean up
Ken, Sean and a bunch more team members participated in the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s (CRWC) yearly “Source to Sea” trash cleanup of the Connecticut River.  Afterwards we cooled off at Nesbitt’s Portside Tavern :)

Meals on Wheels

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: meals on wheels
Kelsey helped Riley deliver Meals on Wheels, an activity this Vermont furniture store has done every Friday since the company was created.

Vermont Food Bank Thanksgiving Project

vermont-food-bank
We helped the Vermont Food Bank distribute food during the annual “Pack to Give Back” event in Brattleboro this Thanksgiving.

Salamander Conservation

salamander-conservation
Vermont Woods Studios supported BEEC (Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center) at their annual Salamander Soiree, an event that raises awareness about amphibian migration. Some team members also went out at night and helped salamanders cross the roads on their journey to local vernal pools.

River Arts Gallery Auction

river-gallery-fundraiser
We donated a handmade wooden bed to the annual River Gallery Arts fundraiser in Brattleboro.

Wags to Riches Auction

wags-riches
Vermont Woods Studios donated a 3-Day weekend stay at Stratton Mountain Resort and a beautiful POLYWOOD Adirondack chair to the annual Wags to Riches fundraiser for the Windham County Humane Society.

 Environmental Education at Vernon Elementary School

sponsored BEEC’s Aquatic Field Trip, where Vernon Elementary School students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem and observe a variety of aquatic organisms
We sponsored an Aquatic Field Trip, where local students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem.

Rainforest Conservation

Rainforest conservation at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia's Amazon rainforest
Peggy, Riley and Kendall made a trip to the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia this year to lend support to a reforestation project at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia.

Providing Toys & Food for Kids in the Amazon Rainforest

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: rainforest conservation
We donated over $200 to bring Christmas gifts and food to children in the Amazon through Marco’s Holiday Giving Project.  Thanks to Riley for setting this up!

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!

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.