Ken and I started this Vermont furniture store 10 years ago with the belief that businesses have a responsibility to make the world a better place. In developing a company that sells handcrafted wooden furniture we wanted to raise awareness about forest conservation and persuade customers to purchase furniture made from sustainably harvested, North American wood. A decade later, we’re not naive enough to think we’ve changed the world but perhaps we’ve changed a tiny part of it and that feels good. Here are some highlights of what our team accomplished this year in support of our local community and our environmental mission:
Plant a Billion Trees Project
Monarch Habitat Restoration Project
Vernon’s Giving Tree
Connecticut River Clean-up
Meals on Wheels
Vermont Food Bank Thanksgiving Project
River Arts Gallery Auction
Wags to Riches Auction
Environmental Education at Vernon Elementary School
Providing Toys & Food for Kids in the Amazon Rainforest
As we close out 2015, I extend my thanks to the customers, staff members, furniture makers, family, friends, neighbors and business partners whose support made the accomplishments of this small Vermont furniture store possible. Here’s to your health and happiness in 2016!
Here at Vermont Woods Studios we are committed to staying active within the community around us. That is why each year we volunteer and donate as much as possible to organizations local to the Vernon, VT area.
This year, the Vernon Town Clerk’s Office, along with the Vernon Free Library and Vernon Girl Scout Troop #40907 joined forces to organize a “Giving Tree”. The “Giving Tree” was a way for people in the Vernon community to donate gifts and items to those in need. Over 30 individuals in this small Vermont community were identified as in need of assistance this Holiday season.
For each person, an ornament was hung on a tree in the Town Clerk’s Office. On the back of each ornament, a person’s age, gender and items they were most in need of were listed. We mostly saw requests for outdoor winter clothes along with toys, crafts and books for the children. Ages ranged from infants to adults.
Our team selected five ornaments from the tree and pledged to get every item listed. We soon learned the project was so popular that the Town Clerk’s office quickly ran out of ornaments but learned of more families in need and created a second batch of ornaments. So we headed back and picked up two more.
Members of the Vermont Woods Studios team donated clothing, toys and books as well as went out shopping to purchase new items. Soon our lunch table was overflowing with gifts. Next came an afternoon spent wrapping and organizing the gifts.
On a bone-chilling Monday (one of few this year) we headed back to the Town Hall where the Town Clerk and local Sheriff’s department helped us unload the gifts. From here we’ll let Santa do the rest!
We were happy to help those in need this holiday season and supply them with New England winter essentials and toys to play with. We were even more happy to hear that the community really came together in a big way to help their fellow neighbors and friends in need.
It’s just another reason why we love the community we’re in and we’re happy to share these moments with all of you!
I founded Vermont Woods Studios 10 years ago on a mission of forest conservation. I was looking for a way to raise awareness about where wood products like furniture and flooring come from. What many people don’t realize is that when you buy these wood products from big companies like Lumber Liquidators or IKEA, there’s a good chance they’re made from trees that have been illegally clear-cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. The idea with Vermont Woods Studios is to provide beautiful, sustainable, American made furniture as an alternative to imported furniture of suspicious origin.
The Vermont – Amazon Connection
Earlier this year, my sons Kendall & Riley and I made a trip to the Amazon rainforest to support the forest conservation efforts of Rosamaria Ruiz at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia. While there, Riley became friends with Marco Antonio Gonzales Silva, a remarkable young conservationist working on social and environmental projects in the Bolivian Amazon.
Marco’s Holiday Giving Project
Marco grew up as a “street kid” in Peru, shining shoes for a living. His dream is to help kids in the Peruvian Amazon, especially those living on the streets and working every day just to feed themselves. So for the past three years, Marco has been sponsoring a project to bring holiday cheer to these children. He uses his own money and also fundraises to buy gifts and food for the kids. Each child receives a toy, a sandwich, and some hot chocolate for Christmas. The cost is about $5 per child. Marco told Riley that most of these children have never had a toy before and do not yet understand the concept of a toy.
In his first year, Marco was able to donate to 500 kids by himself! With the help of some friends, he was able to up that number to 900 in his second year. Now in his third year, Marco took to Facebook to ask for help and we’re trying to help make it his biggest year yet!
Every Furniture Sale = a $50 Donation
We’re sending Marco a $50 donation for every furniture sale made at Vermont Woods Studios this weekend (Friday, Saturday & Sunday). The money will be donated through a GoFundMe page set up for Marco by Riley. The campaign runs until Dec. 14th, 2015 and Riley’s goal is to raise $2,500. He is promising to match the largest donation (up to $200). If you’d like to support the cause or learn more about it, please click here for details and a secure donation site. Even a $5 donation will make a big difference in the lives of these children. Thanks!
Happy Thanksgiving From the Vermont Woods Studios Team
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. To me, it signals the start of the holiday season. I love everything about it, from baking pecan, pumpkin and apple pies the night before to whipping up the gravy last minute. I indulge myself with heaping mounds of stuffing, mashed potatoes and creamed onions without fail, every year. But, most importantly, I’m grateful to spend time with my family.
Here at Vermont Woods Studios, we want to thank you! Without our loyal customers and fans we wouldn’t be able to continue our mission of promoting sustainability within the wood furniture industry. We hope that you’ve enjoyed your time with us and we look forward to seeing where our journey takes us!
From myself and the entire team at Vermont Woods Studios, we wish you a happy, relaxing and stress free holiday with your loved ones! And if you were in the Northeast last year for Thanksgiving, then you like us, are eternally grateful for the cloudless, blue skies and clear roads! If you’re traveling, we wish you safe and easy roads and skies ahead of you!
A Final Glimpse of This Year’s Monarch Butterfly Migration
Cycle one of our monarch butterfly restoration project is coming to a close here at Vermont Woods Studios. Over the past week and a half, our monarchs have been hatching one by one. The first, taking us by surprise with its ability to speedily release itself from its chrysalis. In just a short moment, the monarch broke through the chrysalis and pulled its damp body from the small structure. The Stonehurst staff monitored the fledgling butterfly excitedly as it clung to the shell of the chrysalis, drying slowly.
Eventually the butterfly dried itself and went off in search of food to prepare itself for its migration journey. One by one, our other chrysalises turned shiny and black and we knew it would only be a matter of days before all of our monarchs would be beautiful, bouncing, baby butterflies ready to fly off into the world.
We are proud and happy to see the caterpillars we raised turn into the delicate winged creatures they are today. In this first cycle of the project, we have seen the release of twenty monarch butterflies. Being the business people we are, we appreciate this achievement that we have reached but we also strive to do better in the future.
The end of the first cycle of this project gives way to the second cycle that will start almost immediately. Our CEO Peggy has been watching the milkweed pods carefully for a week now and has determined that the time has come for us to once again harvest the seeds. As we head quickly into the second cycle of monarch restoration, we hold in our minds ways to maximize the habitat restoration and amount of monarchs we will be able to foster and release in the spring.
We hope to harvest and distribute more seeds than last year. We plan to raise seedlings ourselves to give out in the spring time to those dedicated people who promise to plant them on their land. We are already percolating new ideas for monarch caterpillar rearing environments with hopes of a terrarium in the near future.
This year we took on 50 monarch caterpillars but we know we can handle more than that. The success of cycle one has given us fuel and ambition to make cycle two of this very important restoration project bigger and better.
(This is part four of a four part blog series on our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Project)