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.

Sustainable Furniture Store

People often ask me why on earth we located our new sustainable furniture store in the middle of Vermont’s woodlands.  The truth is that I don’t see Vermont Woods Studios as a furniture store.  Yes we have IMHO a beautiful showcase of the best quality handmade furniture Vermont has to offer.  But our business was built first and foremost, out of my passion for wildlife & forest conservation.  I wanted to show people where their furniture comes from.  And I wanted to appeal to them to buy furniture and flooring that come from forests that are re-planted and professionally managed for wildlife & sustainability.

We located Stonehurst in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest…

  • so customers could enjoy the 100 acre woodland we’re on and experience the beauty of the forest
  • so we could raise awareness about forest conservation and the fact that much of the wood furniture and flooring in America is made from imported rainforest timber that’s being mowed down at the mind-boggling rate of over 1 acre/second
  • so we could persuade people to buy American made furniture and flooring– a healthier, more sustainable choice for both people & planet
  • so we could inspire people to change the world

For the first 7 years our Vermont Woods Studios was an online furniture store.  Our staff worked out of a spare bedroom in my house.  When customers wanted to visit us we would invite them to Ken’s tiny workshop in the back of the house.  But as business grew and more people wanted to visit, we figured maybe it was safe to set up shop in a more suitable location.  From the very beginning we knew it had to be in the woods.

Next post: Learning to manage our 100 acre woodland for wildlife conservation.

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.

nature-campLooking for something exciting for the kids to do this summer?  Vermont Woods Studios is offering three scholarships for local Vernon children to attend Nature Camp at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC this year.  Check out the different camps offered and contact Kelsey if you’d like to attend.  The application process is quick and easy (see below).

What Are BEEC Nature Camps?

BEEC’s Nature Explorers Camp is for the young person who enjoys the natural world. Our goal is to foster children’s love of nature in a safe, supportive environment. Campers spend most of each day outdoors, in small groups, exploring the forests, meadow and waters of our 60 open acres. Non-competitive games, stories, art projects, music and a cooling ride down our gentle water slide at the end of the day add to the Nature Explorers Summer Camp experience. Children return year after year, excited to visit special places such as Grandmother Tree and Frog Pond. They also return knowing that there is much fun to be had! Campers investigate the lives’ of their wild neighbors, learn naturalist skills, explore wildlife habitats, develop their sensory awareness skills, venture off-trail, and discover a sense of magic and wonder in the Great Outdoors!”

What Camps are Available, When and for What Ages?

BEEC offers 7 different nature camps for kids ranging in age from 4-11.  Camps are fun and educational with an emphasis on getting to know the natural world.  Here’s a list of this summer’s camps:

  • Finding Our Way ~ June 23 to 27, 9am – 3pm: ages 9-11
  • Cub Camp ~ June 30 to July 3, *9am – 1pm*: ages 4-5
  • Roots and Shoots ~ July 7 to 11, 9am – 3pm: ages 7-10
  • Wee Naturalists ~ July 14 to 18, 9am – 3pm: ages 5-7
  • Emerging Naturalists ~ July 21 to 25, 9am – 3pm: ages 6-8
  • Our Side of the Mountain ~ July 28 to August 1, 9am – 3pm: ages 8-11
  • Magical World of Nature ~ August 4 to 8, 9am – 3pm: ages 6-9

Where is BEEC?

BEEC is located on Bonnyvale Road in West Brattleboro, about a 25 minute drive from Vernon.  Here’s a map.

How to Apply for the Vermont Woods Studios Scholarship

Vermont Woods Studios is offering three $150 scholarships to local Vernon kids in need.  If you’re interested, just contact Kelsey (802-490-2189) (kelsey.eaton@vermontwoodsstudios.com) with a short paragraph about why you want to attend camp and which camp you prefer.

Deadlines and Award Checks

The sooner you apply the better, as these camps fill up quickly (they are almost at full enrollment for the last several weeks of camp, but the first 3 or 4 weeks still have plenty of space).  We’ll accept applications until all 3 scholarships are awarded.  Awards will be first-come, first-serve.  The award will be in the form of a check paid directly to BEEC on your behalf.  Have questions?  Stop by and see us at Stonehurst on Huckle Hill Road in Vernon or contact Kelsey by phone (802-490-2189) or email (kelsey.eaton@vermontwoodsstudios.com).  Thanks for applying!

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 photo was taken by Lori S. of Georgia, Vermont who shared this photo on the Vermont State Parks facebook page!

Picture this: It’s past 10pm and Peggy is outside in her rainboots, a bright yellow raincoat, and some reflective gear. She has a bucket on her arm, a flashlight in one hand, and a big spotted salamander in her other hand. It’s cold and raining and way past her bedtime but dozens of these local amphibians need her help! Yep, It’s salamander migration season! For the past 15 years Peggy has been helping these Spot-tacular salamanders make it across busy roads towards the vernal pools they use for breeding. With the help of great organizations like BEEC, we’ve saved hundreds of salamanders from being run over by cars (and depending on the amount of traffic, this can result in huge dents in the salamander population)!

Helping Salamanders at Stonehurst
Smile, you’re on Salamander camera! These little guys were making moves right around Stonehurst. 

You may be wondering why the owner of a furniture company is spending her free time helping frogs and salamanders cross the roads.  I can assure you that it’s actually very relevant and important work, and it’s quite symbolic of the exact reason she started Vermont Woods Studios in the first place.

Our forests are so much more than just trees. When Peggy started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005, she  was inspired to help save disappearing animal habitats by promoting sustainable forestry. Did you know that almost every species of large primate & big cat are endangered? While these salamanders aren’t endangered (at least not yet), we want to make sure it stays that way! These salamanders have been following the same migration patterns for hundreds of years, way before roads and cars and all of the man-made things that put them in danger. On nights where we might have missed them crossing, there is evidence left on the roads of the threat to the survival of these crawly creatures that cars pose.

The least we can do is help these slow movers make it to where they’re headed.

unnamed
Here’s my #NatureSelfie! That’s Peggy in the background making her way to check up on the salamander eggs.
Salamander photos
You can find many different types of eggs in local Vernal pools. Can you guess which ones are Spotted Salamander eggs?

After the salamanders have crossed and made it to the vernal pools, we visit them to see how many egg clusters we can find. This helps us keep track of the success of the salamanders each year and assures us that our efforts are making a difference!

All in all, we take care and keep track of the success of the salamander migration because we care about our environment– even the smallest parts! If you’re interested in learning more about helping salamanders, check out the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center 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.

Vermont Green Up Day

Have you ever wondered why Vermont is so clean, green and pristine?  Well one reason is that since 1970, thousands of Vermonters have gotten outside on the first Saturday of May to collect tons of litter that would otherwise mar our state’s scenic beauty.  The goal of “Green Up Day”  is to “promote the stewardship of our state’s natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment”.  So tomorrow May 3, volunteers will scour 13,000 miles of roads and collect 40,000 bags of trash.

VWS Greens up the Vernon Beach
The Green Team at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture cleaned up the Vernon Beach today.

Have you participated in Green Up day before?  If not, how about giving it a try?  Get your muck boots on and head outside for some fresh air, sunshine and the good feeling that comes from serving your community.  Find out who’s coordinating Green Up day in your community here.  They’ll have trash bags for you but more importantly they’ll probably throw a pizza party for all the local volunteers after the work is done.

Vermont Woods Studios Green Team Cleans Up Vernon Beach
Vermont Woods Studios Green Team vying for “biggest haul” out of the Vernon Beach.  From left:   Michelle, Sean, Liz, Douglas, Nina and Dennis (poor Loryn had to stay back at Stonehurst.  After all, somebody has to do all the work, for crying out loud ;)

Our Green Up efforts at Vermont Woods Studios took place yesterday as staff members had other obligations this weekend.  Here are some photos of the work we did cleaning up the Vernon Pond and the Vernon Beach (bet you didn’t know we had a beach, did you?).

Vermont Green Up Day | Vernon Pond
Michelle, Martin, Douglas and Neville getting ready to clean up the Vernon Pond.
Neville Cleaning up the Vernon Pond
Neville Cleaning up the Vernon Pond.
Sean Greening Up the Vernon Beach
Sean Greening Up the Vernon Beach.

Please share your own Green Up Day photos with us 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.