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.

This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the AmazonPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

Conservation through ecotourism. Monkeys everywhere in the Serere Reserve of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest
A troop of about 50 of these yellow squirrel monkeys visited the Casa Grande at Serere on our second day there.  For such small primates, they sure made a lot of noise as they come crashing through the canopy, leaping great distances between branches. They’re amazing to watch.

Serere Reserve:  Most Bio Diverse Place on Earth

My son Riley was volunteering last month at the Serere Reserve, a rainforest conservation project in Bolivia’s Amazon Basin.  Serere is part of the Madidi Mosaic, the largest and most bio-diverse protected area in the world.  Kendall (my other son) and I joined Riley for a week and although our “mission” was to learn about rainforest conservation, I have to say the highlight of our trip was living with Serere’s monkeys.

Spider Monkey with Riley | Volunteering at Serere | Conservation through Ecotourism
The best part of volunteering at Serere?  I think Riley might say it was getting to know the orphaned monkeys, tapirs and capybaras. Serere functions as a sanctuary for rescued wildlife, some of whose mothers have been shot and eaten by illegal loggers.

Monkeys Everywhere

Globally half of all primates face imminent extinction, as they face threats from loggers, hunters and smugglers.  But Serere is different and here monkeys abound. That’s thanks to the efforts of owner/operator of Serere, legendary environmental activist Rosamaria Ruiz.  Clearly, humans aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed her painstaking work in restoring the natural flora and fauna to the reserve.  Monkeys are everywhere!  During our short stay, we saw 5 different species of monkeys in the wild.  We also had the privilege of getting to know the resident spider monkeys.  After losing family members to illegal loggers these monkeys have found a safe sanctuary at Serere.  The area is constantly patrolled to protect wildlife and habitat– an activity that volunteers and guests often participate in.  It’s part of a “conservation through ecotourism” strategy.

Diego caring for an orphaned spider monkey | Conservation through ecotourism
Diego is the hospitality manager at Serere but his duties occasionally include giving a little TLC to orphaned spider monkeys. I’m guessing he never had to do that at the Club Med resorts he’s managed!

Serere’s Monkey Species

Here’s a run down on the types of monkeys we saw at Serere along with a few fun facts I learned on LiveScience:

  • Yellow squirrel monkeys (Saimiri) mate for life. We watched them grooming each other, intertwining their tails, holding hands, cuddling, and kissing.
  • Spider monkeys (Ateles) are named for their long tails and lengthy spidery limbs. They’re amazingly agile and can quickly walk on two legs across a tree branch.
  • Red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) When a troop of howler monkeys yell, they can be heard for up to three miles.  We woke up to their calls every morning. Great alarm clock!
  • Capuchin monkeys (Cebus) use tools. They can smash nuts with rocks, insert branches into crevices to capture ants for food, and use large branches to club snakes.
  • Nocturnal Owl Monkeys (Aotus) spend most of their time foraging and sleeping in the high canopy, above ten meters. They sleep in tree holes or thickets of dense foliage which may be shared with other nocturnal animals like bats.
Conservation through ecotourism at Madidi Travel in the Bolivian Amazon
Madidi Travel has posted many professional videos about their work with monkeys and rainforest conservation including several done in association with National Geographic magazine.

Voluntourism Helps Protect the Monkey Kingdom

Students, have you ever thought of taking a gap year to volunteer in conservation-related work?  Young professionals, maybe you’ve considered spending your vacation “voluntouring”? Families, are you looking to teach your children that they can change the world?  Teachers & guidance counselors, do you have students interested in primates or rainforest conservation? Researchers and primatologists, are you studying one of the monkeys listed above?

If so, consider supporting, visiting and/or volunteering at Madidi Travel’s Serere Reserve.  Here you’ll find a wonderful group of dedicated environmentalists using ecotourism to fund rainforest conservation.  Volunteer and guest programs are tailored to meet your needs and interests.  Check out the Madidi Travel website, follow Madidi on Facebook & Twitter and watch these videos about their work.  Then contact Rosamaria Ruiz to join the many scientists, artists, photographers and film makers from all over the world, who have volunteered their time and talent to conserve the wonders of the Serere rainforest reserve.

Rosa Maria Ruiz | Madidi Travel | Serere | Conservation through Ecotourism
Rosamaria Ruiz of Madidi Travel, owner and operator of the Serere rainforest reserve in the Bolivian Amazon basin.

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.

This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the AmazonPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

Protectors of the Amazon | Madidi Travel | Eco Tourism at Serere
Our tour guide, Severo navigating the waters of the Beni River in the Bolivian Amazon.  Severo is one of a team of dedicated environmentalists who protect and defend the Serere Reserve against illegal loggers and other predators.  Rainforest conservation through eco tourism is their strategy & 100% of their profits go to conservation work and the local community.

Why Does the Amazon Need Protecting?

We talk a lot about rainforest conservation at Vermont Woods Studios and I’m sure many people wonder why we’re so fanatic about it.  Part of the reason for our forest conservation mission is is my love of animals and wildlife.  And part of it is that humanity is destroying a precious resource (that took billions of years to evolve) at a rate that surpasses any previous mass extinction. Consider that:

Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries and another 29 countries have lost > 90% of their forest cover.

Madidi Travel: Protectors of the Amazon

We’ve written before about who’s responsible for destroying the rainforest.  Today I wanted to tell you about people who are dedicating their lives to conserving the rainforest.  Last week Kendall and I visited Riley, who was volunteering for them at Madidi Travel in the Serere Reserve in Bolivia.  Ecotourism supporting conservation is Madidi’s strategy.  They are a team led by the legendary environmental activist, Rosamaria Ruiz (featured in this National Geographic article).

Diego and M Tapir | Rescue Sanctuary at Serere | Maidid Travel
Diego manages many aspects of hospitality at the Serere Reserve.  I imagine this job is rather different from his previous experiences managing Club Med facilities!  Here he and Monsieur Tapir are having a moment.  Madidi Travel uses responsible ecotourism to fund rainforest conservation in the Bolivian Amazon.  The Serere Reserve functions as a sanctuary for rescued wildlife, many of whose mothers have been shot and eaten by illegal loggers.  Kendall, Riley and I had an amazing time getting to know the orphaned tapirs, monkeys, chonchos and capybaras.

After decades of conservation work in the Bolivian Amazon, which resulted in the creation of the Madidi National Park, Ms Ruiz purchased a 4000 hectacre reserve known as Serere.  The land was severely damaged by illegal logging and other unauthorized exploitations but Ms Ruiz and her team have brought it back to life.  It is now one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse places on the planet (as you can see in this Serere video).

Can Eco Tourism Help Save the Rainforest?

With much of the reforestation already in progress, the job of patrolling the rainforest and protecting it’s inhabitants now takes center stage at Serere.  That’s where the strategy of ecotourism comes in.  Guests can join local guides on daily hikes and canoe rides throughout the reserve.  Thus the land is patrolled while visitors enjoy the amazing biodiversity of life in the forest (we saw 5 different species of monkeys in one day).  Learn more about ecotourism supporting rainforest conservation on this Madidi Travel video.

Having lunch with Rosamaria Ruiz and Madidi Travel team members
Having lunch with Rosamaria Ruiz,  Madidi Travel team members and volunteers.  We were in Rurrenabaque, the launch point for Amazon rainforest ecotourism adventures.  Now is the time to go, if you’re thinking of visiting the Amazon.  The US dollar is currently very strong in Bolivia and the need for your support of ecotourism is urgent.



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.

This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the AmazonPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

The Serere Reserve | Madidi | Bolivian Amazon Rainfdorest
The view of the Serere Reserve from Casa Grande, where we shared meals, plans and stories with the amazing people of Madidi Travel who are using eco tourism to fund conservation in the Bolivian Amazon.

The Rainforest & A Vermont Furniture Store

Where is the link?  Well, in the time it takes to read this series of blogs, an area of the Amazon rainforest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed.   Can you believe that?  Much rainforest destruction is done illegally, to feed the US markets for furniture and flooring.  Hmm… Vermont makes wood furniture.  With our 200 year tradition of  using local, sustainably harvested wood, we can provide an excellent alternative to illegal furniture imports.  At Vermont Woods Studios our mission is to raise awareness about the rainforest and persuade consumers to avoid illegal wood products (made from rare tropical woods like mahogany, teak and ipe) in favor of sustainable furniture and flooring made from North American woods (like cherry, maple, oak and walnut).

Massive tree in the Serere Reserve | Madidi | Bolivian Amazon
Riley is on the left, taking a break from his volunteer work to explore the rainforest with me and Severo, our knowledgeable (and entertaining) guide.

Finding A Way To Help

At VWS we’ve supported rainforest conservation since Day 1.  But quite honestly, donating our profits to reforestation NGOs (impressive and legitimate, as they are) operating 5000 miles away was not very satisfying.  We wanted to be more closely involved.  We wanted to see (and be a part of) the progress being made through our contributions.

My last post was about how my son Riley happened to end up volunteering for the legendary conservationist, Rosamaria Ruiz, of Madidi Travel in the Serere Reserve of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest.  Perfect!  Kendall (my other son) and I went down to see Riley and offer to help Ms Ruiz with her efforts in reforestation and “conservation through eco tourism”.

Yellow Monkeys | Amazon Rainforest | Serere Reserve | Bolivia | Madidi
This troop of Yellow Monkeys crashed through the rainforest right in front of the Casa Grande where we were eating lunch. They seemed as curious and unafraid of us as we were of them.

Many Faces of Rainforest Destruction

After flying over huge expanses of the Amazon and trekking through the Serere Reserve, I realized there are many different rainforest destruction problems and approaches to solving them.  Some areas have simply been clear cut, the worst possible fate.  But “luckily” the Serere Reserve was ravaged by illegal loggers who were just interested in large, high value trees. For example, I did not see a single mahogany tree other than the saplings planted by Madidi Travel.  Cedar was also completely wiped out.  The good news is that, otherwise the Serere Reserve is still intact, extraordinarily beautiful & teaming with wildlife.

Ecotourism | Hanging with Monkeys & Tapirs in the Amazon Rainforest
The little spider monkey next to me is having a word with that 200 pound tapir nosing up to him.  The two are rescues who’ve taken sanctuary at Madidi Travel’s Serere Rainforest Reserve.  In many cases, rescued animals have lost their parents, flocks, herds or other companions to illegal loggers who shoot them for food or sell them as curiosities.

It’s an amazing place, filled with exotic birds, monkeys (we saw troops of howlers, yellow monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins and a nocturnal monkey all in one day) fish and other wildlife.  Serere is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet– it’s a nature lover’s dream.  Rosamaria says that wildlife is so abundant here because the animals feel safe.

Massive Rainforest Tree | Madidi | Serere
Although illegal loggers cleaned out the huge, high value trees from Madidi Travel’s Serere Reserve, there are still plenty of massive 200 and 300+ year old trees that will amaze you.

Conservation Through Eco Tourism

Last week I learned there’s more to rainforest conservation than planting trees.  In places where the rainforest is still standing, the goal is to protect what’s left and restore what’s been stolen.  Illegal loggers are a constant threat so rigorous patrolling and enforcement are always required.  That takes money.  Rosamaria Ruiz is showing rainforest communities around the world how to raise that money through eco tourism.  Devoted wildlife and nature lovers pay to experience the wonder of the rainforest, thus providing jobs for indigenous people to conserve and defend it.

If you love being up close and personal with nature, check out Madidi Travel and their eco tourism opportunities at the Serere Reserve.  It’s the last little corner of the Garden of Eden.  Get down there soon. The rainforest continues to disappear at an alarming rate.  The clock is ticking.

Amazon Rainforest Trip
On my way to the Bolivian Amazon,  I’m holding the National Geographic article I read 15 years ago, about Rosamaria Ruiz and her rainforest conservation work in Madidi National Park.  It influenced me to create Vermont Woods Studios.  On the right, I’m in the Amazon, helping Ms Ruiz’s team members who are re-planting mahogany trees.  It was a good feeling!


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.

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.

This craftsman style solid wood bedroom set has a modern flair
This craftsman style solid wood bedroom set has a modern, contemporary flair. It’s shown here in solid, natural cherry wood (with contrasting walnut wood drawer and door pulls) but it can also be crafted in maple or walnut.

If you’re shopping for high quality solid wood bedroom sets, I bet you’ve done a lot of research.  Bedroom furniture is a big investment and one that need only be made once in a lifetime.  So you want to do it right.  We’ve put together a few tips to help make your shopping easier and ensure you get the best value for your investment dollars.

Choose an Enduring Style

You’ve narrowed your search to a bedroom set that’s made of real solid wood, so you’re looking for a quality product you’ll have forever, right? Be sure to pick a style that’s simple and enduring.  That way you can change out your linens, curtains and other textiles when you want to indulge in design trends– with no need to re-invest in furniture.  Consider classic American bedroom furniture styles that have stood the test of time, like Shaker style, mission style, craftsman style and arts & crafts.

Solid Wood Bedroom Sets | American Handmade in Vermont
This is an American Shaker bedroom set. Shown in natural cherry wood here, it’s also available in natural walnut and maple. Construction is all solid wood except for the sides of the dresser and nightstand. Learn why this craftsman has chosen veneer for that particular application.

Go with Hardwood over Softwood

Hardwood wears better than softwood (like pine or hemlock) which typically has lots of knots and sap pockets.  If you’re investing in high quality bedroom furniture, make sure it’s made of hardwood.  We like black cherry, black walnut, hard maple and oak best.  They’re top quality North American hardwoods that we can track to make sure they’re harvested sustainably. Here are some photos and descriptions of the hardwoods we recommend.

American Made Furniture Will Long Outlast Imports

The bottom line here is that American made wood furniture is solidly manufactured by American workers with great attention to quality and durability. Not so with imports.  Sure, imports are much cheaper than American made furniture in the short run.  That’s because Chinese wages are often less than 1/10 of American wages.  And the wood used in imports is often illegal.  In the USA, wood furniture is made from sustainably harvested wood that comes from well managed American forests.  With imported furniture, the wood is typically clear cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests.   Although imported furniture often carries labels that it’s made of American hardwoods like cherry, walnut, oak or maple woods, that is rarely the case.  These labels are trade names used to describe woods of suspicious origin that are stained to look like familiar American woods such as cherry and walnut.  If you want to feel good about your furniture, make sure it’s American made.

Get the Best Value and Price

Top quality solid wood furniture is inherently expensive.  It’s not just the wood… it’s the value of American craftsmanship you’re paying for.  Transforming a tree into a dresser, a bed or a dining table takes time and talent. Many people are involved in bringing you a finished piece of furniture, from the land owner where that tree grew to the professional forester who selected the tree for harvest, to the logger to the sawyer to the timber salesperson to the craftsman who builds your bed and the shipper who delivers it to you.

We’re always working on adding value to this supply chain and I can tell you that the best way to save money is to purchase your furniture as a set.  It enables an economy of scale in all those links in the chain between the forest and your home.

We’re hoping this savings will help you make the decision to purchase American made furniture that your family will enjoy with pride for generations.  Check out the many new solid wood bedroom sets Tristan has just posted online.  They’re priced with our best discounts & lowest prices ever.   Enjoy great values on best selling, high quality handcrafted, real solid wood dressers, chests, armoires, night stands and mirrors arranged in fine furniture sets to save you money. Each set is carefully handcrafted in Vermont & guaranteed for a lifetime of service.

Make Sure it’s Sustainable for Your Wallet, the Planet, and the Local Economy

Our solid wood bedroom sets are built with eco-friendly timber, making them the smart choice for your home and for the environment. An additional benefit is that by purchasing furniture from us, you are supporting the national economy and supporting American workers rather than sending your dollars overseas. Our furniture is truly all American, as it’s not only built in the United States, but it is also made with timber from sustainably harvested North American hardwoods!  You’ll be keeping the money at home, while you fill your home with furniture you’ll love.

Ready to bring a beautiful set of American made bedroom furniture into your home? Shop now, or call us at (888) 390-5571 with any questions!

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.