Merry Christmas from Vermont to the Amazon!
This is the forest we look out on every day from our offices and showroom at Vermont Woods Studios.

A Mission of Forest Conservation

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.

Holiday Donation
Marco’s in the middle (red shirt) with Riley and a group of volunteers in Peru.  Help them raise $2500 to fund this year’s Holiday Giving Project which gives children in the Amazon a sandwich, a toy and a hot chocolate for Christmas.

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!

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Children receiving their toys and hot cocoa. In the middle you see just a portion of the children eagerly waiting.

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!

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.

thanksgiving
We hope you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday!

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! 

 

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.

Monarch butterfly getting ready to migrate

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.

Monarch butterflies shortly after hatching

 

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)

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.

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Jeff and his claim to fame

The Power of Awareness

When we first started this monarch conservancy project, we knew a key pillar to success would be to spread the word. In order for a change to happen, people need to know that a change is necessary; intervention is necessary and knowledge is power.

You would think that raising awareness would be simple in our social media flooded climate. A post to Facebook would reach the eyes of hundreds and if they deemed it worthy of sharing, thousands. A quick and to-the-point blast to twitter would reach another thousand. Our website and blog would reach yet another; so, prospects were looking good.

Announcements were made, posts posted and blogs painstakingly pulled from the most creative corners of our minds until one day, Jeff was discovered. For those of you who somehow don’t know, Jeff is our monarch champion mascot and he’s pretty famous as of Wednesday when his picture first appeared in the Brattleboro Reformer.

A day later , an article appeared highlighting the need for monarch restoration and upping the ante on spreading awareness.

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Jeff! Jeff! Can we have your autograph?

We at Vermont Woods Studio are extremely grateful to the local people, media and Jeff for getting the word out. We are very excited to continue reporting on our cohort of monarchs until they take flight and go off on their own in the world.

Don’t Panic! That’s not the end. Once our little Jeff and his cronies fly the coop, we will shed an honorary tear and then get back to work hatching plans to harvest more milkweed seeds to plant this fall. There is no time to waste people, we have monarchs to rehabilitate!

(This is part three of a four part blog series on our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Project)

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.

monarch butterfly chrysalises
Two chrysalises housing monarch pupa

Vermont Woods Studios Prepares Monarchs for Take-off

On a beautiful day straddling the line between August and September, we huddled on the deck of Vermont Woods Studios at our Stonehurst property. Five adults and two children all gazing in mirrored excitement at the progress of our monarch caterpillars as they forge their ways into butterfly-hood.

“I’m going to name him Jeff!” One of the young boys informed the group as Peggy Farabaugh, the CEO of Vermont Woods Studios and head caterpillar-rearer, gently scooped up two prized caterpillars and secured them safely in a jar for the boys to bring to their grandmother’s.

It has been two weeks since the arrival of the caterpillar babies (or larva) and already they are well on their way to adulthood. However, their transformation is far more magical than that of any other aging process. They came to us as tiny creatures no bigger than a grain of rice and have rapidly transformed into vibrant, two inched beauties that scuttle about their mesh hamper confinement eating milkweed and maturing with natural grace.

It is marvelous to watch the caterpillars inch their way to the top of the hamper and methodically suspend themselves upside down in a J shape. This is a signal to the world that the caterpillars are ready to enter the pupa or chrysalis stage of life. The caterpillars work tirelessly in this J-shape to molt their skin and transform their outer appearance into the grass green, gold speckled chrysalis.

“I wonder what they’re doing in there all the time.” Peggy mused, affectionately grooming the caterpillar habitat. The allure of mystery gripped us all as we watched the beautiful chrysalises hang, cautiously enveloping the transforming caterpillar.

In about two weeks the chrysalises will have turned black and the monarch butterfly will be ready to emerge with damp, fledgling wings. In the short span of two hours, the monarch’s wings will dry and it will be lusting for flight. Thus our babies will leave us and safety of the Stonehurst deck.

However, it won’t be a sad day, for on this day we will have reached our goal. With the help of Orley R.  “Chip” Taylor, founder of the Monarch Watch program at the University of Kansas, we will have completed cycle one of the Monarch Restoration project. The Vermont Woods Studios company developed an objective: to help restore the monarch population. Success is heavily contingent on three pillars: milkweed restoration, healthy, migration-ready monarchs and continued research.

Last October and November, Peggy and the Vermont Woods Studios staff went out in search of milkweed. Pods gathered along route 142 were brought back to the studio where seeds were harvested and packaged for distribution.

Seeds were distributed to local gardeners and nature enthusiasts, clients and planted on the Stonehurst property. 1 in 100 milkweed seeds strewn across the earth will produce a plant. Because of these small odds, we chose to carefully plant 80 seeds on the Stonehurst property yielding 80 viable milkweed plants.

Along with learning the importance of carefully planting the milkweed seeds, the Vermont Woods Studios staff have also developed important information for rearing monarch caterpillars:

  • Whenever it is possible, raise the caterpillars in a terrarium
  • Do not allow direct sunlight to hit the terrarium
  • Monarch caterpillars grow quickly and this process can be messy, so cleaning the terrarium frequently is a must
monarch caterpillar on milkweed
One of our monarch caterpillars getting ready to transition into a chrysalis

Once our monarchs are ready for flight, we have one last piece of the puzzle to put in place before we can call the project a success. Chip founded Monarch Watch in 1992 and has been studying monarch migration since 2005. The eastern monarchs born at the end of the summer months have the innate task of migrating to Mexico. This migration will take four generations of monarchs.

Our Stonehurst monarchs will fly just a portion of the way and then stop to lay eggs and die as the new babies begin the growing process and mature to fly their portion of the trip. This process will repeat until the final generation sails over sunny Mexico and makes themselves comfortable for eight to nine months when the United States is again habitable for the return of the monarchs.

How did people come to have such intimate detail about the migration pattern of these tireless creatures? The answer to this is evolving through research, which brings us to the final stage of the project: tagging the monarchs.

Before our monarchs take flight, we will place a small, adhesive tag, provided by Chip and his team on the wings of our monarchs. These tags will signal researchers to know where the monarchs came from and provide other valuable research that will continue to help rehabilitate the monarch population.

As we stand on the deck, without a chill in the air and watch the chrysalises form, we know the journey our caterpillars have before them. We discuss tagging the butterflies with nervous laughter, none of us having ever done it before; but were willing to try because we know that it is one key step in encouraging the comeback of these magical creatures.

(This is part two of a four part blog series on our Monarch Butterfly Restoration Project)

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.