Monarch Butterflies in Vermont

Click on the National Geographic video above to learn about the amazing 2000 mile annual migration of the Monarch butterfly. 

Vermonters over 10 years old will remember the colorful Monarch butterflies that used to grace our fields and backyards every summer and fall.  But unfortunately, many young children have never even seen a Monarch.  What a shame!  I remember when Kendall and Riley were in grammar school we used to bring their entire class to a field across from the school playground and every child would find a Monarch caterpillar to watch as it went through metamorphosis (the inset above shows Kendall with a Monarch that has just emerged from it’s chrysalis and is waiting for it’s wings to dry before it’s first flight).  That was only 10 years ago and now there’s nary a Monarch to be found in all of Vermont.

Could Vermont’s state butterfly be heading toward extinction?

Recently a legal petition was filed seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies.  “Monarchs are in a deadly free fall.  The 90 percent drop in the monarch’s population is a loss so staggering that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Milkweed: The Monarch’s Elixir of Life

Plant Milkweed for the Monarchs
Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed and it is the only plant on which the butterflies will lay their eggs. But over the last several years, milkweed has been eradicated by the increased use of herbicides on genetically modified corn and soybean crops (GMO’s).  This is the only field of milkweed I could find in Vernon today.

“Fewer monarch butterflies are crossing North America to winter in Mexico, and the biggest culprit seems to be the disappearance of milkweed in the United States” according to Lindsay N Smith’s recent article in National Geographic.  “Although illegal deforestation and severe weather have contributed to the decline, research… suggests that the overwhelming concern is U.S. farms’ large-scale use of herbicides that destroy milkweed.”

It’s hard to believe that milkweed has nearly disappeared from Vermont’s landscape in just a few short years.   In the Green Mountain State, corn crops are everywhere and along the edges of those fields, we used to find lots of Monarch caterpillars feeding on milkweed.  Not anymore.  The Midwest has lost much of it’s milkweed too, as more land is being planted with (GMO) corn and soy to meet the world’s increasing demands for biofuels.

Monsanto and Round Up

The Monarch’s decline is being driven by the widespread use of genetically engineered crops that are made to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a uniquely potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in Roundup use with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in corn and soybean fields.

Sean, Douglas, Loryn and Michelle are preparing milkweed seeds to be donated to the seedbank at Monarch Watch.
Sean, Douglas, Loryn and Michelle are preparing milkweed seeds to be donated to the seedbank at Monarch Watch.

Plant Milkweed

Those of us who eat corn or soy (or any of the foods that contain them) can’t very well blame the farmers for milkweed’s eradication. So scientists, conservationists, and butterfly enthusiasts are encouraging road crews and property owners to grow the plant in their own yards, gardens and along roadsides.  Are you up for that?  If you need seeds, visit us at Stonehurst and we’ll give you as many as you’d like.  You can also contact the Monarch Watch Seed Bank where you can donate or request seeds.  Directions for planting milkweed seed can be found at LiveMonarch.com.  Vermonters can support Elizabeth Howard and her Journey North organization by reporting their sightings online.  Together and with a little help from Mother Nature we can bring back the Monarchs!

Let us know your thoughts 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.

Today’s post is part 3 of a series on Vermont Woods Studios written by Vermont author, Peggy McKay Shinn.  Peggy writes full-time and lives in Rutland, Vermont, with her husband, daughter, and one remaining cat. Visit her website and check out Peggy Shinn’s books, including Deluge: Tropical Storm Irene, Vermont’s Flash Floods, and How One Small State Saved Itself.  Read Part 1 & Part 2

Customer Service
Keeping our sales team small ensures exceptionally personal & friendly customer service. Loryn, Sean, Michelle, Douglas and Rebecca enjoy helping our customers find the perfect furniture for their homes!

One of the keys to the Vermont Woods Studios’ success, said Fletcher, has been personal customer service.

Everyone who works at Vermont Woods Studios is listed on the website with their full name, a photo, short bio, and amusing title (Fletcher is “office wizard,” Farabaugh is “founder and believer”) so customers know to whom they are talking. “We know purchasing furniture is a process, not just a transaction,” he said. Ann Thigpen of Canal Point, Florida, learned this shortly after she discovered Vermont Woods Studios while shopping for new bedroom furniture. She had searched for furniture made in America, and Vermont Woods Studios’ website jumped out at her. She liked the clean, informative design and was even more pleased once she called the company to enquire about a nightstand. She had never purchased furniture online and feared she was “buying a pig in a poke” (sight unseen). After the nightstand arrived via what’s called white-glove delivery (heavily padded and shipped by a company specializing in furniture delivery), Thigpen was so pleased that she decided to finish decorating her bedroom with furniture from Vermont Woods Studios. Each time, she called the company with questions, which the customer service staff patiently answered. “I think I’ve spoken with everyone who works there, even Farabaugh,” she said, laughing. When the bed arrived and wasn’t exactly what she hoped for, Vermont Woods Studios offered to replace the bed. “They’re that accommodating,” she said, still astounded.

Other customers are similarly impressed with the excellent customer service.

“It is not just about a sale,” commented Tina Buehler, a Vernon attorney who purchased a cherry computer desk and end table from Vermont Woods Studios. “They really want you to be thrilled with the product you purchase.” As for Farabaugh’s mission of selling eco-friendly furniture, it’s become a bonus. Most people now find Vermont Woods Studios because they are looking for a particular style of fine furniture. Like Clare Reid, who searched the Internet for contemporary hardwood furniture, then was pleased to learn that the furniture she found on VermontWoodsStudios.com is made from sustainable wood. But again, it was good customer service that sealed the deal. Her questions regarding different products, their construction, and delivery times were answered thoroughly, and when Reid’s builder fell behind on her new home, Vermont Woods Studios agreed to store the furniture. Brian Bell, a vice president at Lyndon Furniture, calls Farabaugh a pioneer in successfully marketing and selling furniture online. Despite its availability nationwide, Lyndon had struggled to connect with customers who want American-made furniture. Vermont Woods Studios is now one of Lyndon’s largest accounts, and Ball applauds the company for its customer service commitment.

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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.

Lyndon Furniture is Best Seller at Stonehurst
Douglas Fletcher & Dennis Shanoff of Vermont Woods Studios and Christine Drown & Brian Ball of Lyndon Furniture.  These guys work incredibly hard to promote Vermont’s sustainable furniture economy.  Today they’re taking a lunch break at Brattleboro’s favorite eatery: the Whetstone Station.

Lyndon Furniture was one of our very first partners when we started Vermont Woods Studios as an online fine furniture store.  That was nearly 9 years ago and since then we’ve created a close partnership with Brian Ball, Dave Allard, Christine Drown and the whole Lyndon Furniture crew.

Truth is, I started Vermont Woods Studios out of a passion for forest and wildlife conservation.  I really didn’t know anything about furniture.  But Dave Allard, who owned Lyndon Furniture at the time, took us under his wing.  He too, had grown up loving Vermont’s woodlands and like me, he chose a line of work built around forest conservation.

Lyndon’s sustainable, handcrafted wood furniture fills a special niche in our new fine furniture gallery at Stonehurst.  Lyndon’s bedroom, dining, living room and home office furniture is known for it’s simple elegance and classic American shaker style.  It pairs beautifully with other elements of Vermont home decor including Simon Pearce glassware, Hubbardton Forge lighting and JK Adams wooden tableware.

Today we celebrated our strong partnership with Lyndon Furniture over a handcrafted harvest table full of locally grown food at Brattleboro’s Whetstone Station.  We are looking forward to the next 9 years of collaboration and success with our friends from Lyndon, Vermont!

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.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS
Before your visit to VINS, check out their calendar of events so you can schedule a critter feeding or raptor show.

I’m not sure how summer slipped away so quickly, but there’s no getting around it… leaf peeping season is upon us!  Thousands of visitors will soon be motoring around the Green Mountain state enjoying the brilliant colors our maple trees are dressing up in.  If you’re one of those lucky leisure travelers be sure to add the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences VINS in Quechee (near Woodstock) VT to your itinerary.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS. Helping nature stay  in balance.
In addition to live raptor shows, raptor habitats, nature trails and playgrounds, you’ll find many interesting exhibits like this one on helping nature stay in balance.

I started volunteering at VINS when Kendall and Riley were in the Vernon Elementary School, so over 15 years ago.  They had a wonderful program called ELF (Environmental Learning for the Future) where parents would come into their childrens’ classrooms and give hands-on training using various wildlife artifacts we managed to come up with.

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS. Wendy runs the beautiful and interesting gift shop at Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS.
Wendy runs the beautiful and interesting gift shop at Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS.

Today the VINS mission is mainly focused on bird conservation: “motivating individuals and communities to care for the environment through education, research, and avian wildlife rehabilitation.”  It’s a “nonprofit, member-supported, environmental education, research and avian rehabilitation organization headquartered at the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vermont. Open year-round, the 47-acre campus, adjacent to Quechee State Park, features 17 state-of-the-art raptor enclosures, 4 exhibit spaces, 2 classrooms, and ¾ miles of interpretive nature trails. VINS places a priority on making high-quality, compelling, and fun environmental education programs and learning opportunities accessible to more people and communities.”

Vermont Institute of Natural Science VINS. Helping nature stay  in balance. How big is an eagle's nest?
Ken and I visited VINS last weekend. For Ken it was a good excuse to get out on his Harley but he also found some cool trails to hike, including this one with a life-size replica of an eagle’s nest.

At Vermont Woods Studios we support VINS through their Adopt a Raptor, citizen science and other environmental programs.  If you’re interested in learning more about VINS, becoming a member or visiting their beautiful Nature Center in Quechee, VT check out their website today!

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.

Boys twin bed donated to Make a Wish Vermont
Come bid on this Vermont made pencil post bed that we donated to Make a Wish Vermont. The auction is Saturday, September 20th at World Learning in Brattleboro, starting at 6pm with the Brattleboro Celebrity Waiter Dinner.

September is a big fundraising month for the Vermont chapter of Make A Wish and they’re hoping to get a little help from you.  “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”  What could be a better mission than that?  The Make a Wish website shows a couple recent wishes & dreams that have come true, locally:

  • Aaron, a 16-year-old boy suffering from cancer who always dreamed of going to Comic Con in New York City was flown there with his family.  They met celebrities at the show and attended Spiderman on Broadway
  • Lexi, a 15 year old girl, also suffering from cancer was flown to Spa Atlantis in the Bahamas to swim with the dolphins.  “We will always have the great memories and many pictures of the Bahamas, and when she goes back to the hospital next week, she will have all her stories and pictures to show the doctors. Lexi’s trip has re-energized her for what lies ahead.”

At Vermont Woods Studios we’re attending the annual Brattleboro Celebrity Waiter Dinner on September 20 and donating the pencil post bed shown above to the auction that night.  A few details about the dinner and auction:

Come and enjoy a gourmet meal at World Learning served by a team of “celebrity waiters”, including Steve “Corm” Cormier and Dave Manning, Jerry Goldberg and David Brown, Tom Nasiatka and Mary Linney, Gina Pattison and Karen Henry, Stephan Morse and Bob Woodworth, John Benouski and Steve Sweet, Diedre Baker and Laurie Blair, and Jane Baker and Kate O’Connor. Plus Corm will be Master of Ceremonies and co-host the auction. Saturday, September 20th at World Learning in Brattleboro. Beer and wine cash bar at 6pm; dinner served at 7pm. COST: $50 per person (cash or checks only). Proceeds from the dinner as well as any tips earned by the waiters will go toward granting the wishes of Vermont children with life-threatening illnesses. You will also have the opportunity to bid on gift certificates and other items to be auctioned off during the evening. For more info or to RSVP: contact Barb Harris @ 257-7803, e-mail: bharris115@yahoo.com

If you can’t make the dinner, there’s also the Wallace Golf Tournament at the Mount Snow Golf Course which takes place tomorrow, September 12 and the 2014 Walk for Wishes at the Shelburne Museum on Sunday, September 13.  We hope to see you at one of these fun events!

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.