Vermont Woods Studios was created with a mission of forest conservation. By introducing customers to our sustainable wood furniture we are able to raise awareness about all kinds of forest-related issues, from rainforest preservation to global warming.
You don’t have to be a citizen scientist to make the connection between healthy, sustainable forests and wood furniture but it doesn’t hurt. If you’re not already a CS, how about considering it?
The current issue of Vermont Nature, a publication of the Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS is all about Citizen Scientists, with ideas and links to projects throughout the Green Mountain State. Online websites make it really easy to participate so if you love nature and are going to be outdoors enjoying it anyway, why not give Citizen Science a try?
Here are a couple opportunities:
- If you’re a bird watcher, check out The Great Backyard Bird Count run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. Join bird lovers from 110 different countries by logging who’s flying around in your backyard, garden, farm or forest
- Love to hike? Learn about the pests that may be invading and jeopardizing the trees you’re passing by. The Vermont Forest Pest First Detector Program needs you to take a minute and report sightings of invasive pests online. You’ll be helping conservationists stop the spread of invasives before it’s too late.
Check out VINS’ website for more ideas. There’s something for everyone. You can change the world.
Monday, people across the globe were doing good deeds to help our planet and celebrate nature. Here at Vermont Woods Studios, every day is spent helping our planet (we are the top retailer for locally sourced, sustainably produced furniture, after all) so we took some time out of the day to donate blood at the Vermont Advent Christian Home.
While Peggy has donated before, this would be my first blood donation experience. Being a first time donor, I was a little bit nervous going into it. I had always wanted to donate before, but I am kind of a wimp when it comes to pain so I have always talked myself out of it. But after the events during the Boston Marathon last week, a city near and dear to my heart, I knew that this was a fear I had to get over.
Looking back now, I have to say I kind of enjoyed it! We decided to walk over, since it was only a five minute walk from the office. After a little bit of paperwork and a quick check-up, I was in the chair, ready to donate. The volunteers and American Red Cross workers were very helpful and talked me through every step of the process and answered all of my questions, which helped to ease my mind. The actual donation only took about 10 minutes and it was not as painful as I was expecting it to be. My other fear was fainting after I gave blood (I’ve never fainted before, but there’s a first time for everything!). But after drinking some juice and enjoying some homemade baked goods, I felt fine and was ready to head back to work. For anyone nervous about signing up for their first time blood donation, you have nothing to worry about! It was easy, fun and you’ll feel great about making a difference!
It is a great feeling being able to help those in need. At Vermont Woods Studios, part of our mission is to be an active part of our community and participate in local service projects. I am so lucky to work for a company that is willing to support the causes that not only matter to our mission, but ones that matter to me as an employee. When I brought up to Peggy that I was interested in the blood drive, she, Kendall and Liz all signed up with me. Now who wouldn’t want to buy furniture from people like that?
Forest conservation is at the heart of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios and we’re always trying to raise awareness about where your wood furniture comes from. If you’re committed to buying American made furniture– no worries. Chances are it’s made from legal wood, sustainably harvested from well-managed forests right here in North America.
But if you’re buying imported wood furniture (and according to a Washington Post article 70% of furniture sold in America is imported) then: Houston, we have a problem.
A recent Washington Post article by Brad Plumer entitled Organized Crime is Getting Rich Cutting Down the Rainforest describes how the illegal logging trade has become just as lucrative (and far more destructive) than the drug-trafficking industry. 50 to 90 percent of forestry in tropical areas is now controlled by criminal groups! “A great deal of logging simply takes place illegally — much of it in tropical areas such as the Amazon Basin, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.” (ref: United Nations and Interpol)
The U.N. estimates that illicit logging is now worth between $30 billion to $100 billion, or up to 30 percent of the global wood trade. That illegal wood is often shipped from pristine rainforests to China, Vietnam and other third world countries where it’s fabricated into low quality furniture which is sold to US consumers. We’ve written quite a bit about the links between rainforest destruction, global warming and the furniture and flooring you choose for your home:
- Blog posts on rainforest conservation and protection of endangered species of the forest
- Tiger Conservation, Rainforest Preservation and Your Furniture
- Forest Conservation is About More than Trees
- Saving The Rainforest: Why Green Consumerism Is Key
- And lots more
If you’re considering buying furniture at IKEA, Home Depot or any big box store… ask where the lumber originates and let us know what you find on our Facebook or in the comments section below. Then re-discover sustainable, American made wood furniture and join us in feeling good about your furniture and your green home.
Why will hundreds of millions of people from all around the world be turning off their lights from 8:30-9:30pm tonight? It’s Earth Hour– a show of solidarity in focusing on the one thing that unites us all—our planet.
World Wildlife Fund has always been my favorite charity, because their method of conservation relies on strong partnerships with indigenous communities to create win-wins for both people and the environment. For 50 years they’ve been using science, research and human relations to save earth’s most cherished endangered species. WWF’s been instrumental in efforts to save tigers, panda bears, rhinos, elephants, gorillas and just about every other endangered species you can think of. If not for WWF, some of these species might already be extinct in the wild.
If you’re a like-minded conservationist, how about joining us and millions of people in 7,001 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories to switch lights off from 8:30-9:30 tonight as a massive show of concern for the environment?
You can get involved, by watching the Earth Hour video, starting your own Earth Hour event or sharing your Earth Hour photos and stories on Facebook. Join the Earth Hour global community here and be a part of the solution.
Each year during the 3rd week of March our friends at the National Wildlife Federation celebrate wildlife, nature and our need to protect them. This year’s National Wildlife Week, March 18-23, explores the roles of trees for wildlife, people and communities.
As woodworkers, we at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture have a thing about trees and forest conservation. NWF captures our sentiments: “from the canopy to the roots, trees are critical for thousands of wildlife species—from woodpeckers that drill on the trunks of mature trees, to beavers felling trees to build their homes, and huge moose eating tree leaves and sprouts in the forest. Not only do trees benefit wildlife at all stages of their lives—by providing shelter, nesting places, food, and hiding places for predators and prey—trees are also the lungs of the Earth, because they renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for us to breathe.”
NWF is planting tens of thousands of trees this week, in over 200 communities across the country—bringing children and adults together to provide crucial habitat for wildlife. You can join their celebration by planting a tree, making a donation or sharing a photo of wildlife in trees (upload your photos to their Facebook timeline).
It’s a little early to be planting trees in Vermont this season, so at Vermont Woods Studios we’ll be participating by donating $1/sale to our Plant a Billion Trees initiative. Trees are the longest living organisms on our planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources. What are you doing to conserve them?
When we first purchased Stonehurst, it was evident that about six different trees needed to be removed, as they were much too close to the house. Not wanting them to go to waste, we sawed what we could into lumber and trimmed the rest for fire wood. One of the trees was a Norway Spruce, so Ken didn’t have his eye on it for furniture. So, we decided it would be perfect lumber to make some bird nesting boxes. We called in the help of Vince Johnson, of Vernon, who set up his portable sawmill on site. He was able to get a good amount out of that Spruce tree and we had plenty for our project.
Part of Stonehurst is potentially creating a nature center and we will always look for ways to preserve the natural habitat for all the native species on the property. With Stonehurst having a fair amount of open fields, it is a perfect habitat for the Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallows, both cavity nesters. Also, the field edges would make a good spot for some Black Capped Chickadee nest boxes.
We found a bluebird nesting box plan and some members of the Green Team took over Ken’s workshop. We made a bunch of nesting boxes for the bluebirds, but ran out of time for the chickadees, so that’s something that we will get back to. The next step is to get out to the fields to mount these in just the right places. We want to get them up before the end of March, which is typically the time these species start to look for a nesting place. We will report on that in the coming weeks as well as keep you updated as these nest boxes become occupied.
Wags to Riches Auction
As Heather blogged last week, this past weekend was the annual Wags to Riches Auction to benefit the Windham County Humane Society. Peggy, Douglas and I were in attendance to show our support and represent Vermont Woods Studios.
The night started at 6:00pm with the silent auction, which was broken out into three sections, which allowed people to move around and see everything there was to offer. And with close to 200 items in the auction, there was a lot to see! Light hor d’oeuvres were served as WCHS supporters mingled and bid on their items. Throughout the evening, staff pulled numbers for door prizes and kept everyone updated on when tables would be closing. After the silent auction ended, everyone was seated and the live auction began. It was amazing to see how many people were willing to spend money on multiple items to benefit WCHS. After the live auction, three 50/50 raffle tickets were pulled, in which both Douglas and our friend Annette managed to profit from. We each walked away having donated something to the humane society, either by bidding on an item or making a monetary donation. Annette walked away with a beautiful new Raleigh bicycle, Douglas managed to outbid Peggy on some flowers from Linden Gardens and I was able to score a spa and gym membership.
WCHS managed to sell every item on the list, plus raise an additional $4,000 to buy new computers for their office. We were so happy to be able to donate one of our cutting boards and a vacation trip to such a great organization. Overall, it was a great night and we look forward to the next time we can help out our friends at WCHS.
Our friends over at the Vermont Center for EcoStudies VCE and the Northern Woodlands have launched a contest for Naturalist of the Year. If you want to be in contention for the big prize (a subscription to The Northern Woodlands Magazine), you’d better get outside and TODAY. Look, I’m going to be honest with you. Judging from the response they’ve gotten so far you’re not likely to win this one. Birders are serious competitors! Have you seen that movie, “The Big Year” with Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin? Well these guys vying for Vermont Naturalist of the Year remind me of them. Great competitors! It’s not just about winning a contest, either. Actually it’s too complicated for me to understand what it’s about, but I think it might be pretty deep.
Anyway, even if you don’t win Naturalist of the Year, with a reasonable amount of luck you might win VCE’s monthly photo-observation contest. That would be a good stepping stone, right? So head outside and scour Vermont’s “fields and fens, mountains and meadows, lakes and lawns”. Take artistic, scientific or any kind of “wow” photos– maybe an amazing sighting, a neat behavior, or whatever catches your eye and email it to VCE. Their readers will select winning photographs by who gets the most votes.
Let us know if you won by sharing your winning photos on our Facebook. And while you’re over at VCE check out the amazing project that is the Vermont Atlas of Life. It’s a citizen science project cataloging all Vermont’s breeding birds, butterflies, bumble bees, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and more. You’ll be helping to save our endangered species from extinction and making the world a better place!
When Ken, Kendall, Riley and I started Vermont Woods Studios 7 years ago we had just a vague notion of what this company could be. First and foremost we wanted a green company with a mission of forest conservation. That grew out of the boys’ attachment to Vermont’s natural world, especially it’s wildlife. And my interest in saving the rainforest.
I figured since Ken already had a full time job and the boys were in school, it would take 100% of my time for at least the first 5 years (optimistic and naive, it turns out) to get a new business off the ground. So if I was to have any time with Ken and the boys, it would pretty much have to be within the context of the business. The new company would have to be engaging for all of us.
One of our first ideas was to build and sell wooden bird houses. That satisfied Ken’s woodworking interests and the boys connection to the outdoors. But as we brainstormed lots of different ideas and got more involved with the Vermont woodworking community the concept of partnering with local craftspeople and marketing their Vermont made furniture online evolved.
Well, 7 years later, thanks to the help of Douglas Fletcher (Sales and Customer Service Manager), Dennis Shanoff (Marketing Manager) and the rest of our creative and hard-working staff, Vermont made furniture is now in all 50 states. We’ve come a long way. And we’ve got a long way to go.
Many thanks to all our craftspeople, customers, readers, vendors and cheer leaders. We are grateful for your support.
Vermont is the Green Mountain state and trust me, Vermonters are serious about forest conservation. If you live in New York or Boston or another metropolitan area you might be surprised though to learn that we have to fight hard every day to keep our forests clean, green and intact.
Dennis and I were at a meeting of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association last week and as always, forest conservation was high on the list of topics for discussion. Vermont furniture companies are working on creating a chain of custody for their furniture so customers will be able to trace it back from the furniture maker to the forest where it was sustainably harvested.
You may be thinking: “why do Vermonters think forest conservation is so important?” Well it’s not just because the Green Mountain Forest makes a $1 billion contribution to our economy. Or that the forest industry provides 9% of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales and employment for over 6000 Vermonters. It’s also that Vermonters love the wildlife and recreation the forest provides.
We see how forests are being decimated in tropical countries like Brazil, the DR Congo and Indonesia and we’re determined to do what we can to conserve forests (both our temperate forests and rainforests) for future generations. Here is just a short list of Vermont organizations working on the mission of forest conservation:
- The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
- The Vermont Woodlands Association
- The Vermont Sierra Club
- The Vermont Land Trust
- The Vermont Working Landscape Partnership
- Vermont Family Forests
- Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
Another forest conservation group– one near to my heart, is the Vermont Center for Eco Studies. Researchers there are working to conserve habitat for our state’s migrating songbirds. As such their conservation efforts span both our temperate Vermont forests and the rainforest of the Dominican Republic where our state bird the Bicknell’s Thrush winters.