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.
Sustainable Eco Friendly Furniture from Vermont
With yet another snowstorm on it’s way to Vermont, my mind is longing for Spring. How about you? Perhaps a few images of green grass and the birds and the bees (courtesy of Polyvore) will hurry things along?

In Vermont the seasons are still tied to production of wood furniture.  Winter provides the best opportunity for careful logging because frozen ground is less susceptible to damage.  And Spring begins a new cycle for forest stewardship planning– a process that ensures availability of wood for future generations.  At Vermont Woods Studios that process is led by Lynn Levine (our professional forester) who helps manage the 100 acre woodland that Stonehurst sits upon.  A woodland we’re using to help people understand where their furniture comes from:  trees that are sustainably harvested.

What is Sustainable, Eco Friendly Furniture?

Polywood all weather Adirondack chairs | Recycled plastic milk jugs
These eco friendly POLYWOOD all weather Adirondack chairs are made of recycled plastic milk jugs.  Other marks of sustainability include green certifications, local responsibly harvested wood and use of non-toxic materials.

I just googled “sustainable eco friendly furniture” and came up with everything from IKEA (who was recently suspended from the Forest Stewardship Council FSC for illegally clear cutting 600 year old trees in Russia) to Pottery Barn (well known for  greenwashing campaigns like their eco chic collection). At Vermont Woods Studios  we’ve written a lot about sustainable furniture and how it’s defined.   Because we sell mainly wooden furniture we focus on responsible sourcing, green certification of wood, advantages of local and American made furniture, and the importance of recycled  and handmade furniture.  For examples of a wider variety of eco friendly furniture, check out the latest green furniture articles on Inhabitat.

Why Buy Sustainable Furniture?

“Every dollar you spend or don’t spend is a vote you cast for the world you want.” – L.N. Smith

A couple other reasons that come to mind include:

  • better health for your family (no exposure to the flammables, lead and toxic coatings that are often present in furniture)
  • less investment in furniture over the long run (sustainable furniture is built to last a lifetime so no replacements are necessary) and
  • support for local communities that produce sustainable furniture

Have some reasons of your own?  Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

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.

Treeson Spring Water

Treeson Eco Friendly Spring Water | Change the World
You can help Treeson get their fledgling spring water company off the ground by supporting their campaign at Kickstarter.com.

I don’t usually promote other companies or products unless they’re based in Vermont and related to our environmental mission at Vermont Woods Studios.  But although Treeson is operated in Costa Rica, the company caught my eye because their founding principles are so similar to ours.

Cleaning Up Ocean Plastic Pollution

Owner Carlton Solle took his family on a trip to Costa Rica 5 years ago.  Like me, he was alarmed at the plastic pollution littering that country’s beautiful waters and coastlines.  And like me, he  learned that less than 20 percent of the 50 billion plastic water bottles sold in the United States are actually recycled (the remaining 40 billion end up in landfills, waterways and oceans, or in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch).

Our response to plastic pollution at Vermont Woods Studios was to partner with POLYWOOD in promoting and selling outdoor patio furniture made from recycled plastic bottles.  Carlton’s response was to create Treeson spring water which is packaged in an eco-friendly, biodegradable, collapsible water bottle that comes with a pre-paid USPS postage sticker.  The empty bottle goes in the Mail box instead of the trash.

Replanting the Rainforest

For every bottle of spring water sold, Treeson plants a tree. They are working closely with our friend Kevin Peterson at the Eco Preservation Society to replant the rainforest in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica (this is the area we visited a few years ago and did volunteer work building furniture at a local school).  So far over 38,000 trees have been planted.

Incidentally, Kevin is one of the people who influenced us at Vermont Woods Studios to plant a tree for every furniture sale.

Life Cycle of a Treeson Bottle:  Cradle to Grave

Treeson water bottles are made from plant-based materials and filled with filtered spring water sourced close to each retail territory.  Empty bottles are easily flattened and returned for free (by peeling off the label to reveal a return label) via the United States Postal Service.  The used bottles are then recycled to produce clean energy (with a machine that converts the plant-based material into biogas) that is used to produce new bottles.

Support Treeson’s Kickstarter Campaign

You can help Treeson get their fledgling company off the ground by supporting their campaign at Kickstarter.com.   There you’ll find information and frequently asked questions about their mission, business plans and processes.

We wish them well.  Can companies like Treeson and Vermont Woods Studios really change the world?  Let us know your thoughts on 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.

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.

For all you Pine Top alumni out there, here is a fun email I received from Sally Byrnes Magin who shares her memories of skiing here in the 1950s:

Pine Top Ski Area | Memories from Sally
Memories of Pine Top from Sally Byrnes Magin:  I love the pictures of the ladies sitting on the front porch and the one of Laddie, Elsie and Romey’s dog.

Dear Peggy,

By chance, when googling “Pine Top” for sentimental reasons, I came across the Vermont Woods Studios and Stonehurst website.  After spending many winter vacations as a child at Pine Top, I was so excited to see that you are keeping the memories alive!  My family and our friends, from northern NJ, spent almost every President’s Week in February (from about 1950 until 1958) at Pine Top, learning to ski and having a wonderful time together. In fact, one of the trails that led from the top of the “Tobey” rope tow was named “Stoddard Run” after our friends the Stoddard family.

Eventually, as our skiing skills improved, we branched out to other Vermont ski areas. It was a magical time spent with Elsie and Romey (Racine), Laddie their dog, the kitchen staff, and the local ski instructors at Pine Top.  Our group took over the entire house for a week, and expanded into the “new annex” when it was built.

Some memories that I have of Pine Top are: skiing down the Pelley and Tobey slopes, struggling with those rope tows, the Tiny Tot hill, eating “sugar on snow” in the old warming hut, being excited when the “new” warning hut was built, visiting the farm and cows up the road, the bell that signaled breakfast and dinner, playing board games in front of the fireplace at night, going into Brattleboro to see ski jumping competitions, and how cold the rooms upstairs were in the mornings before the heat came up through the grates. Also, walking back from the warming hut on a cold Vermont night with every star in the sky visible.

Memories of Pine Top | Now Stonehurst Fine Furniture Gallery
The kids always ate first, and I guess we were celebrating someone’s birthday at dinner.   I must have been sitting at the other end of the dining room table (so am not in the picture).

I hope to visit Stonehurst some time in the future and perhaps walk around the property to revisit old memories.             …..Sally Byrnes Magin Township of Washington, NJ

Sally Byrnes Magin | Memories of Skiing at Pine Top
Here’s a picture of me in early 1950′s ski gear, lace up boots, and cable bindings. Those were the days!  By the way, one of those ski instructor’s last name may have been “Herbert”…he taught us all how to ski, and I am still going strong at age 70! … Sally Byrnes Magin

Well, thank you so much Sally for generously sharing your wonderful memories of skiing at Pine Top.  We hope you’ll come up to visit us soon. I think you’ll enjoy the property and all the improvements we’ve made while transforming it into Stonehurst (a showcase for Vermont’s fine furniture and home decor).

Does anyone else out there have Pine Top memories to share?  Send them along!  We’ve got an online compilation of Pine Top stories and yours should be part of it.

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 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.

The Renaissance of Handmade Wooden Furniture
Even though there’s still snow on the ground we’re thinking Spring at Vermont Woods Studios.  So in anticipation of the rebirth of our green landscape it seems like a good time to talk about the renaissance of handmade wooden furniture.

Last month I took a trip to Manhattan to meet with leaders in the world of home decor and interior design.  We talked about the fact that the past several years have been dominated by modern, contemporary decor with lots of metal, glass, upholstery and synthetics.  Very little wood.  But in 2014 the pendulum is swinging back to home decor that is much more connected to our natural world.  Check out Architectural Digest’s latest interiors page and you’ll find the richness of handmade wood furniture, flooring and accessories throughout.

Handcrafted Custom Reclaimed Wood and Metal Coffee and Sofa Tables
These occasional tables are handcrafted of reclaimed wood and metal by Dan Mosheim and his sons in Dorset, Vermont.  They can be customized online, in our showroom or… take a ride up to Dorset and work directly with Dan in his studio.

In 2014, interior designers and homeowners are looking to be refreshed by the authenticity and organic nature of real wood in their home decor. Reclaimed wood and metal are perhaps the most popular combination for furniture styles we’ve seen this year. The beautiful occasional tables above (handcrafted by Dan Mosheim and his sons) are a great example.

Modern Handmade Wooden Furniture
Copeland’s new Kyoto Dining Furniture Collection is a great example of modern, contemporary wood furniture.  It’s handmade in Bradford, Vermont of sustainably harvested American black walnut wood.

Here’s another example of handmade wooden furniture that’s trending up this Spring.  It’s Copeland’s new Kyoto Dining Furniture Collection– proving that modern and wood are not an oxymoron when it comes to furniture!

Need more inspiration on how to refresh your home with the beauty of handmade wooden furniture this Spring?  Visit the Architectural Digest annual Home Show in Manhattan, March 20-23.  Or make a trip to beautiful Vermont and enjoy the bounty of nature inside our fine furniture showroom and outside on our scenic woodland trails.

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 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.

Sustainable Tourism in Nicaragua
A typical view of the Nicaraguan Pacific coast.  We took this photo at the Aqua Wellness eco lodge near Playa Gigante.  It was recently featured in Interior Design for excellence in sustainability and local sourcing of building materials and foods.

Vermont’s been cold this year.  We’ve had a winter like I haven’t seen since I was a kid (when every winter was like this).  So Ken and I decided to cash in some FF miles and head south for a week.  We like to visit rainforest countries because it gives us a chance to understand the realities and trends behind Vermont Woods Studios’ mission— forest conservation.  Central America provides the closest rainforest and we’ve traveled to Costa Rica and Panama before.  But after much research we decided to try Nicaragua this time.

When I told my mother and sister we were going to Nicaragua, they hesitated and politely said “be careful”.  Ken’s friends said “bring a machete” and “watch out for the Sandinistas”.  Douglas and Dennis encouraged us to update our wills before leaving.

Well, I’m here to tell you Nicaragua has changed!  No longer a war-torn country, it is now evolving to join it’s Central American neighbors as a warm and welcoming respite for it’s  neighbors to the North.  Lush rainforests, white sandy beaches, and majestic mountains make up Nicaragua’s landscape.  And friendly people reach out to help you find them along with unique, affordable places to stay, play and eat.

We chose Nicaragua because of it’s government’s commitment to the sustainable development of tourism (rather than the depletion of rainforest resources).  But recently news has broken of President Daniel Ortega’s $40 Billion deal with Hong Kong to build a canal across Nicaragua (that would compete with the Panama canal).   NPR aired a discussion of the catastrophic environmental and cultural devastation that could result.

Hopefully the deal is abandoned in lieu of the economic benefits of eco-tourism.  Interested in helping to tip the balance?  Learn more about affordable, sustainable Nicaraguan travel at the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Trip website.

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 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.