March 18th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Each year during the 3rd week of March our friends at the National Wildlife Federation celebrate wildlife, nature and our need to protect them. This year’s National Wildlife Week, March 18-23, explores the roles of trees for wildlife, people and communities.
As woodworkers, we at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture have a thing about trees and forest conservation. NWF captures our sentiments: “from the canopy to the roots, trees are critical for thousands of wildlife species—from woodpeckers that drill on the trunks of mature trees, to beavers felling trees to build their homes, and huge moose eating tree leaves and sprouts in the forest. Not only do trees benefit wildlife at all stages of their lives—by providing shelter, nesting places, food, and hiding places for predators and prey—trees are also the lungs of the Earth, because they renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for us to breathe.”
NWF is planting tens of thousands of trees this week, in over 200 communities across the country—bringing children and adults together to provide crucial habitat for wildlife. You can join their celebration by planting a tree, making a donation or sharing a photo of wildlife in trees (upload your photos to their Facebook timeline).
It’s a little early to be planting trees in Vermont this season, so at Vermont Woods Studios we’ll be participating by donating $1/sale to our Plant a Billion Trees initiative. Trees are the longest living organisms on our planet and one of the earth’s greatest natural resources. What are you doing to conserve them?
March 12th, 2013 by Dennis Shanoff
When we first purchased Stonehurst, it was evident that about six different trees needed to be removed, as they were much too close to the house. Not wanting them to go to waste, we sawed what we could into lumber and trimmed the rest for fire wood. One of the trees was a Norway Spruce, so Ken didn’t have his eye on it for furniture. So, we decided it would be perfect lumber to make some bird nesting boxes. We called in the help of Vince Johnson, of Vernon, who set up his portable sawmill on site. He was able to get a good amount out of that Spruce tree and we had plenty for our project.
Part of Stonehurst is potentially creating a nature center and we will always look for ways to preserve the natural habitat for all the native species on the property. With Stonehurst having a fair amount of open fields, it is a perfect habitat for the Eastern Bluebird and Tree Swallows, both cavity nesters. Also, the field edges would make a good spot for some Black Capped Chickadee nest boxes.
We found a bluebird nesting box plan and some members of the Green Team took over Ken’s workshop. We made a bunch of nesting boxes for the bluebirds, but ran out of time for the chickadees, so that’s something that we will get back to. The next step is to get out to the fields to mount these in just the right places. We want to get them up before the end of March, which is typically the time these species start to look for a nesting place. We will report on that in the coming weeks as well as keep you updated as these nest boxes become occupied.
March 5th, 2013 by Loryn Dion
As Heather blogged last week, this past weekend was the annual Wags to Riches Auction to benefit the Windham County Humane Society. Peggy, Douglas and I were in attendance to show our support and represent Vermont Woods Studios.
The night started at 6:00pm with the silent auction, which was broken out into three sections, which allowed people to move around and see everything there was to offer. And with close to 200 items in the auction, there was a lot to see! Light hor d’oeuvres were served as WCHS supporters mingled and bid on their items. Throughout the evening, staff pulled numbers for door prizes and kept everyone updated on when tables would be closing. After the silent auction ended, everyone was seated and the live auction began. It was amazing to see how many people were willing to spend money on multiple items to benefit WCHS. After the live auction, three 50/50 raffle tickets were pulled, in which both Douglas and our friend Annette managed to profit from. We each walked away having donated something to the humane society, either by bidding on an item or making a monetary donation. Annette walked away with a beautiful new Raleigh bicycle, Douglas managed to outbid Peggy on some flowers from Linden Gardens and I was able to score a spa and gym membership.
WCHS managed to sell every item on the list, plus raise an additional $4,000 to buy new computers for their office. We were so happy to be able to donate one of our cutting boards and a vacation trip to such a great organization. Overall, it was a great night and we look forward to the next time we can help out our friends at WCHS.
March 1st, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Our friends over at the Vermont Center for EcoStudies VCE and the Northern Woodlands have launched a contest for Naturalist of the Year. If you want to be in contention for the big prize (a subscription to The Northern Woodlands Magazine), you’d better get outside and TODAY. Look, I’m going to be honest with you. Judging from the response they’ve gotten so far you’re not likely to win this one. Birders are serious competitors! Have you seen that movie, “The Big Year” with Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin? Well these guys vying for Vermont Naturalist of the Year remind me of them. Great competitors! It’s not just about winning a contest, either. Actually it’s too complicated for me to understand what it’s about, but I think it might be pretty deep.
Anyway, even if you don’t win Naturalist of the Year, with a reasonable amount of luck you might win VCE’s monthly photo-observation contest. That would be a good stepping stone, right? So head outside and scour Vermont’s “fields and fens, mountains and meadows, lakes and lawns”. Take artistic, scientific or any kind of “wow” photos– maybe an amazing sighting, a neat behavior, or whatever catches your eye and email it to VCE. Their readers will select winning photographs by who gets the most votes.
Let us know if you won by sharing your winning photos on our Facebook. And while you’re over at VCE check out the amazing project that is the Vermont Atlas of Life. It’s a citizen science project cataloging all Vermont’s breeding birds, butterflies, bumble bees, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and more. You’ll be helping to save our endangered species from extinction and making the world a better place!
February 8th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
When Ken, Kendall, Riley and I started Vermont Woods Studios 7 years ago we had just a vague notion of what this company could be. First and foremost we wanted a green company with a mission of forest conservation. That grew out of the boys’ attachment to Vermont’s natural world, especially it’s wildlife. And my interest in saving the rainforest.
I figured since Ken already had a full time job and the boys were in school, it would take 100% of my time for at least the first 5 years (optimistic and naive, it turns out) to get a new business off the ground. So if I was to have any time with Ken and the boys, it would pretty much have to be within the context of the business. The new company would have to be engaging for all of us.
One of our first ideas was to build and sell wooden bird houses. That satisfied Ken’s woodworking interests and the boys connection to the outdoors. But as we brainstormed lots of different ideas and got more involved with the Vermont woodworking community the concept of partnering with local craftspeople and marketing their Vermont made furniture online evolved.
Well, 7 years later, thanks to the help of Douglas Fletcher (Sales and Customer Service Manager), Dennis Shanoff (Marketing Manager) and the rest of our creative and hard-working staff, Vermont made furniture is now in all 50 states. We’ve come a long way. And we’ve got a long way to go.
Many thanks to all our craftspeople, customers, readers, vendors and cheer leaders. We are grateful for your support.
February 3rd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Vermont is the Green Mountain state and trust me, Vermonters are serious about forest conservation. If you live in New York or Boston or another metropolitan area you might be surprised though to learn that we have to fight hard every day to keep our forests clean, green and intact.
Dennis and I were at a meeting of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association last week and as always, forest conservation was high on the list of topics for discussion. Vermont furniture companies are working on creating a chain of custody for their furniture so customers will be able to trace it back from the furniture maker to the forest where it was sustainably harvested.
You may be thinking: “why do Vermonters think forest conservation is so important?” Well it’s not just because the Green Mountain Forest makes a $1 billion contribution to our economy. Or that the forest industry provides 9% of Vermont’s total manufacturing sales and employment for over 6000 Vermonters. It’s also that Vermonters love the wildlife and recreation the forest provides.
We see how forests are being decimated in tropical countries like Brazil, the DR Congo and Indonesia and we’re determined to do what we can to conserve forests (both our temperate forests and rainforests) for future generations. Here is just a short list of Vermont organizations working on the mission of forest conservation:
Another forest conservation group– one near to my heart, is the Vermont Center for Eco Studies. Researchers there are working to conserve habitat for our state’s migrating songbirds. As such their conservation efforts span both our temperate Vermont forests and the rainforest of the Dominican Republic where our state bird the Bicknell’s Thrush winters.
January 22nd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Our sustainable furniture company was founded in 2005 on a mission of forest conservation. I had been studying rainforest conservation for years and wanted to see if I could do something to help change this startling statistic:
Every second of every minute of every day…
We lose over 1 acre of rainforest. Permanently.
Several years prior to starting Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture I had formed a non-profit corporation with the same mission (rainforest conservation) but I was never really able to get the funding I needed to lift it off the ground. So our wood furniture company was built as a for-profit corporation to help accomplish the same goals.
It’s not always easy to explain why a Vermont based fine furniture company is so committed to rainforest conservation. When I saw this info-graphic, Forests and the Green Economy (courtesy of The Nature Conservancy) I thought it might help. Here are a few rainforest facts that might surprise you:
The Nature Conservancy summarizes this and other compelling facts about the rainforest in their info-graphic. Along with the World Wildlife Fund they are among the world’s best hopes for saving the rainforest. Check out their info-graphic and learn about ways you can help everyday through your choices of food, paper, furniture, flooring and other forest products.
At Vermont Woods Studios we donate $1 for every sale to the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project and run occasional benefits to support non-profits that work to save the rainforest and it’s inhabitants. Learn more about our work in the Mission section of our blog and website.
January 12th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
We were happy to get a note from GreenPeople.org today, awarding our green furniture with their Seal of approval for the 7th year in a row. GreenPeople.org is a credible (not to mention the world’s largest) online directory of green, eco-friendly, and holistic goods, services, non-profit organizations and eco-events. They have been helping people locate authentically green products since 1998 by evaluating businesses with meaningful and consistent standards for environmental protection and social justice.
To learn more about our green furniture and why it’s eco friendly have a look at the green mission pages of our blog, browse through the environmental section of our website or give us a call to chat about wooden furniture and sustainable forestry today. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to call or read through all that, just remember this: The most important thing you can do to be sustainable and earth-friendly when you’re buying furniture is to buy 100% American made. Learn why here.
January 4th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh
Ever wonder where your wooden furniture comes from? Seven years ago I founded Vermont Woods Studios because I didn’t like the answer to that question. And the answer is: if you didn’t purchase American made furniture, yours may well have originated in a beautiful tropical rainforest that was being plundered by illegal logging activities.
I spent the first few years at Vermont Woods Studios trying to raise awareness about rainforest devastation and how it’s driven by the wood furniture and flooring industries. Did you know that the rainforest is disappearing at the rate of >1 acre per second? It sounds unbelievable and sensationalist, doesn’t it? I mean that’s over 4000 football fields every hour of every 24 hour day, 365 days/year. But it’s true and that fact is why we continue to work so hard to offer sustainable, locally made furniture at this Vermont furniture store.
Consumers of wood furniture, flooring and other forest products are the key to saving the rainforest. If you’re taking the trouble to learn about sustainable wooden furniture and how you as a consumer can be part of the global solution, we want to help. I’ll be writing a series of blogs over the next few months to provide some background information regarding the past, present and future of the rainforest and how we consumers can do our part to save it. Have any rainforest references or stories you’d like to share? Use the comment section below or join the conversation on our Facebook.
December 24th, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to our customers, staff, furniture makers, shippers and friends! We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support during this very challenging year at Vermont Woods Studios. We wish you all the best of health and happiness in the coming year. Check back often in 2013 to see the latest progress at Stonehurst, our future fine furniture showroom and nature center. Your encouragement and support are what make this step towards achieving our green mission possible!