Today’s post is part 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.  
Sustainable Wood

Selling Vermont-made furniture from sustainable wood is Peggy Farabaugh’s mission. But customers have found far more at Vermont Woods Studios.

“There’s a warmth to fine hardwood furniture and a unique texture too. The rippled linear grain of oak, the icy smooth polish of maple, the warm silky feel of cherry, the slippery sheen of dark walnut, it beckons to be touched — table tops rubbed, chairs sat upon, cabinet doors opened and closed, smoothly and effortlessly. Which is why Peggy Farabaugh’s idea of selling Vermont-made hardwood furniture online did not seem like the best business concept when she came up with it in 2005.

“It’s ridiculous to think that you could sell fine furniture on the Internet because people have to see it and have to feel it,” said Farabaugh, who smiles and laughs easily.

More surprising, Farabaugh knew very little about either furniture or running a business.

But she had a mission. She wanted to start a business that would help save the rainforest by selling furniture made from sustainable wood grown in the U.S. (and preferably Vermont) and to bolster Vermont’s 200+-year-old furniture-making tradition.

So she started Vermont Woods Studios. From a spare bedroom in her Vernon home, she began selling unique Vermont-made furniture, such as Chad Woodruff’s quarter-sawn white oak tables, David Holzapfel’s ultra-modern yet primitive coat racks made of maple saplings and blackened cherry burls, and her husband Ken’s own maple inlaid side tables. Surprising even to Farabaugh, and through trial and error, she found a niche.

Now in its ninth year, Vermont Woods Studios has grown 35 percent in the past two years, and business doubled in the two previous years. The company now employs over a dozen people, and this past fall, they opened Stonehurst, a renovated 18th-century farmhouse and barn that serve as company headquarters and showroom. It’s finally a place where customers can see — and touch — the cherry, maple, oak, and walnut fine home furnishings that they have found on the web.

But the reasons customers have flocked to Vermont Woods Studios may surprise Farabaugh.

***

Click here for part 2, ‘Putting a Passion for the Environment to Work.’ 

 

 We wish to express our deep gratitude to Peggy for all the time and talent she put into telling our story!  And if you love part 1 as much as we do, stay tuned, we’ll be posting part 2 of our story on the blog early next week. Part 2 will include some spectacular customer stories and more insight on why we’re “more than just sustainable wood.”  

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.

OrangutanEyes

The 19th of August is International Orangutan Day, a day put aside to recognize the extreme dangers facing the palm oil industry’s most recognized victim. Once widespread throughout the forests of Asia, Orangutans are now found on just two islands, Sumatra and Borneo (Indonesia). On the brink of extinction,  there are now only about 6,600 of them left in the wild. Orangutan’s are beautiful, intelligent creatures that share 97% of human DNA. They are complex, curious, and they need our help. We cannot let Orangutan’s become the first great ape species to go extinct in the wild, as experts suggest may happen if action is not taken now.

Why Orangutans are Endangered:

Habitat Loss-   The loss of Orangutan habitat has been devastating, as Sumatra has lost more than HALF of it’s forests in the last 25 years.  “The orangutans’ forest home is being felled and turned into oil palm plantations on a massive scale, logging continues even within national parks, and road networks divide the remaining forests into isolated fragments. Human-orangutan conflict is now frequent in farmlands, as orangutans raid crops in search of enough food for survival. The expansion of farmlands and the building of new roads opens up the forest, making it easier for hunters and poachers to capture orangutans and other protected wildlife.”  (1)  This factor is one of the driving forces behind our mission, as we work to provide a source for beautiful wood furniture that does not contribute to mass deforestation. 

Illegal Trade- While Orangutan’s have been protected by law since 1931, the illegal trade of Orangutans has continued to decimate populations. They are often captured for use as an exotic pet or for entertainment purposes, as commonly seen in the circus.

What We Can Do To Help:

  •  Avoid Palm Oil- Palm oil is causing mass deforestation of Orangutan habitats, leaving them with no place to live and raise their babies. As they search far distances for a new home, they have to look further and further apart often times ending up in palm oil fields. When this occurs they are unknowingly tresspassing, and palm oil farmers are legally able to kill them right on spot to protect their crops. Orangutans are left with little to no food or resources, and when deforestation from fires occur there are many slow moving Orangutans that are burned alive in the process. By Boycotting palm oil, you are doing a small part to keep these majestic creatures safe.
  • Boycott circuses that use Orangutans as entertainment, and write to your local government to keep these circuses from your community.
  • Write to your local legislators and The President.  Ask them not to explore palm oil as a biofuel option.
  • Write your favorite companies that use palm oil and ask them to use sustainable sources  for their ingredients
  • Support companies who do not use palm oil in their products or support the palm oil industry
  • Adopt a Orangutan (Virtually!)
  • Sign Petitions that promote Orangutan safety

As passionate environmental advocates, we are happy to help spread awareness about Orangutan’s today. If you’d like to learn more about World Orangutan Day, check out the #OrangutanDay hashtag on Twitter or 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.

adopt_web_barred_owl_lp
Photo courtesy of Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

I love the view from my desk. Every so often a barred Owl will swoop by and perch on the tree directly outside of my window. If you keep up with us on Facebook, you’ve probably seen a few photos of him throughout the year. The marketing department has grown so fond of our new feathered friend that we’ve decided to Adopt a Barred Owl through VINS ‘Adopt a Raptor’ program. This program supports Barred Owls by helping to provide the specialized care needed by these unique creatures who live at VINS Nature Center.

About the Barred Owl

This owl is highly vocal, giving a loud and resounding call, which is often phrased as “Who, cooks, for-you? Who, cooks, for-you, all?” Like some other owl species, Barred Owls will call in the daytime as well as at night. Mates will duet, but the male’s voice is deeper and mellower. Many other vocalizations are made which range from a short yelp or bark to a frenzied and raucous monkey-like squall.

Pairs of Barred Owls mate for life, and territories and nest sites are maintained for many years. They also care for their young for at least 4 months, much longer than most other owls. -VINS

Interested in Learning More About the Barred Owl?

We have 2 guest passes available for the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, VT! The Nature Center has a many fun and educational activities like Nature Trails, Nature’s Playground for the kiddies, a Nature Nook, you can visit the Raptor Enclosures, or even see a Live Raptor Show! All details on activities and scheduling can be found at www.vinsweb.org. Send me an email at kelsey.eaton@vermontwoodsstudios.com if you’d like them, and we can arrange for you to pick up the guest passes here at Stonehurst. 

 

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.

Spending 8 hours a day at a desk can be tough. No matter how awesome I think my job is (I get to share the story of an eco-friendly, Vermont business via social media–how cool is that?) there are some days when sitting in front of a computer screen is just plain hard. And then there are days that remind me of why I decided to apply at Vermont Woods Studios in the first place, and yesterday was certainly one of them.

We love animals. We really do. From the creepy crawly ones that spend their time sitting in murky pond water, to the fuzzy ones you cuddle up with on your couch. We love to support the organizations that work to give them better lives too! Earlier in the year several of the Green Team members attended the Windham County Humane Society’s biggest fundraiser of the year, Wags to Riches. We even had a few donated items up for auction at the fundraiser! Fun was had and animals were helped and all in all we had a great time.

So when we saw that the Windham County Humane Society was in real need of food for the animals who stay at the shelter, we were more than eager to help out. With Peggy’s help buying a few extra bags, Nina and I gathered up some kibble and headed over to WCHS. I try not to go there too often, because I might end up coming home with something, like a new puppy, but the WCHS staff was happy and helpful and it was a great visit!

 

Windham County Humane Society
This is me, looking silly next to my boyfriend’s car. +10 points if you can guess what his favorite coffee shop is?
Windham County Humane Society
This kibble was heavy. Real heavy. Thankfully I had Nina there to do the heavy lifting. Thanks Nina! 
Windham County Humane Society
See, I told you Nina is strong! That bag is half her size. Anyway, the WCHS staff members make great models (and check out their new T-shirts!)

If you’d like to see more of what we do around the community, check out our new community involvement page. We’re always working on some new project to make the world a brighter and better place!

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 Coverts Cohort:  Woodlands for Wildlife
These are the amazing people in my cohort at last week’s Vermont Coverts workshop: “Woodlands for Wildlife”.  The word “covert” (pronounced cuh-vert) is an old English term meaning a thicket, home or hiding place for animals.

After locating our fine furniture and home decor store on a 100 acre wood in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest (see my last post), I found myself in the familiar position of trying to do something I knew little about.  How would we properly manage this woodland for wildlife and sustainability?  My friends Kathleen Wanner (Executive Director of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association VWMA) and Lynn Levine (a professional forester) suggested that Ken and I attend the Vermont Coverts:  Woodlands for Wildlife Cooperator Training.  What a great idea!

Mess is best when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife
One of the key points we learned about managing our woodlands is that “mess is best” when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife.  Forests need to be thinned with plenty of coarse woody debris remaining on the floor to provide cover for animals.

The program was last weekend at the Woods of Wikahowi in Northfield, VT.  Ken had to cancel at the last minute but I attended along with a dozen or so like-minded landowners from all across Vermont.  Because 80% of Vermont’s forestland is owned privately, the Coverts organization concluded that the key to sustaining our state’s forests & wildlife is education of private landowners.  They provide a free 3-day training course every Spring and every Fall, focusing on classroom and field studies in forest and wildlife management.

Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.
Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.

The course was taught by Vermont’s foremost experts in forestry & wildlife including:

  • Lisa Sausville, Executive Director, Vermont Coverts
  • Mary Sisock, UVM Extension Forester
  • Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Dan Singleton, Washington County Forester
  • Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon VT
  • Kathy Decker, VT Forest, Parks and Recreation
  • Rich Chalmers, VP VT Coverts
Maple is Vermont's Most Important Hardwood Tree
The Maple is Vermont’s most important tree.  Here Rich Chalmers is showing us his newly built sugar house– made from timbers logged in the surrounding forest.

VT Coverts is so committed to their mission that they offer the course for free, including food and lodging!  Dedicated Coverts members work hard to meet expenses through grants and fundraising programs.  If you own woodlands in Vermont or know someone who does, please refer them to the Coverts program.  It’s an unforgettable weekend with fascinating people and thought-provoking discussion. The graduates of the program hold the future of Vermont’s forests in their hands.

Vermont Coverts | Reference Books | Sustainable Forestry
Some of the handouts from Vermont Coverts.  Click here to apply for the next Vermont Coverts Training workshop.  Did I mention the training is FREE?

 

 

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.