Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

News & Reviews

Notes From Vermont’s First Economic Summit

June 4th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh


Vermont's First Economic Summit

Governor Shumlin kicked off Vermont’s First Economic Summit in Rutland yesterday by signing a new downtown development law.

Yesterday I traveled to the Paramount Theater in Rutland for Vermont’s First Economic Summit.  Where else but Vermont could a small business owner like me elect to join the Governor, many of his Cabinet members and some of the most successful CEOs in the state to brainstorm about our economic future?  New York?  California?  I don’t think so.  Only in Vermont.

Anyway, about 125 people gathered to discuss the opportunities and challenges of doing business in America’s greenest state.  On one hand our taxes are high, environmental regulations are onerous and the cost of living is barely affordable for most workers.  But, somehow we love to live, work and play here anyway.

So we looked at why that is and listed a lot of benefits that Vermont has to offer:  beautiful scenery, short pleasant commutes to work, relaxed pace, local economies, vibrant farmers markets and co-ops, fabulous farm to plate restaurants, skiing, hiking, fishing, camping, nice neighbors, working landscapes, clean lakes, rivers and streams, sustainable development and so on.  Not to mention easy access to government officials!

Then the task was reconciling the pluses and minus’ of Vermont’s economics in terms of concrete fix-it strategies.  We broke out into small groups to focus on:  workforce development, the Vermont brand, Vermont infrastructure, Global competitiveness, Innovation and a few other topics.  I was lucky to find myself working in the Vermont Brand group with Kathleen Wanner of the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association VWMA, Lynette Kemp of Vermont’s Department of Taxes (we tried not to hold that against her) and Colleeen Leonard, Vermont’s Working Lands Policy Administrator from the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

At the end of the day all of the small groups presented their ideas and recommendations to a plenary session and we discussed plans to follow through both formally and informally.  Now our challenge is to make things happen in a way that preserves Vermont’s pristine rural character and brings economic prosperity to all it’s citizens.  Think it’s doable?

You can read more about the Economic Summit on Vermont Digger.

Break Out Group Working on Defining Vermont's Brand

Robin Scheu, Executive Director at Addison County Economic Development Corporation led the break-out group working on defining Vermont’s brand.  I worked with Kathleen Wanner of the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association VWMA (the only one looking at you), Lynette Kemp of Vermont’s Department of Taxes (we tried not to hold that against her) and Colleen Leonard, Vermont’s Working Lands Policy Administrator from the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.



Loryn’s Getting Us Ready to Stroll With the Heifers

May 28th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

Strolling of the Heifers in Brattleboro Vermont

Mark your calendar to come visit Loryn and the crew at Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers parade on June 8, 2013.  Both The New York Times and Yankee Magazine highlighted the parade and concurrent Slow Living Festival recently. Love cows? See you there!

Everyone’s heard of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona but are you familiar with the Strolling of the Heifers?  It may not have the cache of Spain’s 100 year old spectacle but then again, you don’t have to worry about getting gored like the 15 people on record for having died during the real thing.

On the contrary, Brattleboro’s bovine parade is all about staying alive and celebrating healthy, local, sustainable living.  Check it out along with the Slow Living Summit that takes place concurrently in Brattleboro June 7-9.

Our ace Community Activist, Loryn Dion is the official representative of Vermont Woods Studios at the Heifer’s parade and Slow Living Summit.  Loryn’s been working with Bob Bouvier and Rick Gravelin of the Vermont WoodNet to set up a booth to introduce visitors to Vermont’s sustainable fine wooden furniture.  We’ll be part of the Woodlands and Forestry exhibit that features demonstrations on forest management, wildlife of the woods, invasive species and much more.

Stay tuned for more details from Loryn and plan to stop by our Vermont Sustainable Furniture booth on the Brattleboro Common June 8 if you can.



Southern Vermont Artists Open Studio Weekend

May 23rd, 2013 by Loryn Dion

Open Studio Weekend

Support our local artists during the Vermont Craft Councils Open Studio Weekend May 25th and 26th.

Vermont Craft Council Open Studio Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is usually a time when most New Englanders open their swimming pools, break out the barbecues and attend parades and memorials honoring those that have served our country. Many organizations use this time to open their doors to travelers during the three-day weekend. If you will be traveling May 25th or 26th, one event that is a must-see is the Vermont Craft Councils Open Studio Weekend Tour. This is a bi-annual event, held once in the spring and once in the fall, and is a great time for anyone who enjoys arts and crafting.

Artists throughout southern Vermont will be displaying their work at various showrooms and galleries during the open studio weekend. You’ll be able to find everything from paintings to sculptures to pottery and even wood furniture. A few of our favorite furniture makers in the Dorset area like Steve Holman, Dan Mosheim, Bob Gasperetti and Bill Laberge will be opening their doors to fine furniture and art enthusiasts.

If you are an avid art lover, this open studio weekend is a great opportunity to not only take in various art but you’ll also be able to see the places where artists work and be able to buy or order work directly from the studio and speak to the artist directly. The Vermont Craft Council strives to make this an educational and enriching event for all who participate.

Here you can find a map of all participating artists and what they’ll have on display.  Also check out their 10 Ways to Plan your Open Studio Tour, which is full of great tips for scheduling your weekend.

The weather is supposed to be beautiful for being out and about during the holiday weekend, so why not venture to a few southern Vermont galleries for some art enrichment and education. Let us know what you plan to do this weekend here in the comments or on our facebook.


Michelle Rooks Brings a Little Drama Into the Woods

May 19th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

Michelle Rooks:  Welcome to the Vermont Woods Studios

We are proud to be able to  introduce you to Michelle Rooks, our new Customer Service Representative at Vermont Woods Studios.  Besides working with our furniture makers to accurately relay and monitor your orders, Michelle is in charge of performing arts education for the office. Unfortunately we missed seeing her act in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Sound of Music (above) but soon we’ll get to see her in Les Mis and Shrek.

One of the reasons we feel so lucky to be moving in to Stonehurst later this week is that it’s located a block away from the house of a local celebrity (yes, famous people do live here in Vernon– well, famous to us, anyway).   Thespian, Michelle Rooks is our new Vermont Woods Studios Customer Service Representative by day.  But on weekends, nights and holidays you can often find Michelle “acting out” at Ja’Duke Performing Arts Theater in neighboring Turners Falls, MA.

After her first full week at Vermont Woods Studios, when she was heading home after work on Friday afternoon, Michelle casually mentioned that she was going to perform that night as a French maid in an Alfred Hitchcock thriller called The Rope.  She invited us to see the play, but I think she was a bit surprised when Douglas, Liz, Sean, Loryn, Kendall and I all showed up in the front row to cheer her on.  We had a great time and can’t wait to attend Michelle’s next couple plays:  Les Miserables and Shrek, the Musical.

Michelle has a BS in Journalism and Advertising with a minor in Animal Science.  Her professional background includes expertise in the publishing world encompassing such areas as editing, photo manipulation, desktop publishing and proofreading.  Customers will appreciate her eye for detail… as do our furniture makers!

Michelle lives down the street with her husband Chris, two beautiful children and Faith, their lovable rescue dog.  She is an active volunteer at her church and at the kids’ school.  We are fortunate that she’s worked us into her very busy schedule!  We love her Midwestern sensibilities and wry sense of humor that keep us grounded, even on our craziest days.  Welcome aboard, Michelle!



Celebrating American Craft Beer Week with Martin and Kelsey

May 16th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

American Craft Beer Week

Welcoming Martin Corbin (at the end of the table in between Ken and Martin’s girlfriend, Stephanie) and Kelsey Eaton (3rd from right) into the The Woods and celebrating American Craft Beer Week at The Whetstone Brewery in Brattleboro, Vermont.  That’s Loryn on the far left clinking with Michelle.  Nice photoshop work connecting Michelle’s arm to the rest of her, eh?

We’re always looking for an excuse to celebrate at Vermont Woods Studios and– lucky us– this week we had several good reasons.  So last night we gathered at the Whetstone Brewery in Brattleboro to welcome Martin Corbin and Kelsey Eaton into the Woods and also… to observe American Craft Beer Week (yes, there is such such a thing).

I’ll post a couple short bios about Martin and Kelsey in the coming weeks but today I thought I should talk up Vermont’s fabulous craft beers so you’ll be able to get out and try them during Craft Beer Weekend.

According to the Vermont Brewers Association there are over 30 brewers in the Green Mountain State, from small specialty brewers like Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Warren,Vermont to nationally recognized brands like Long Trail in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont.  “Maybe there’s something in the water. Maybe there’s something in the air. Maybe….. there’s something up here in the mountains. Vermont’s brewers are making magic with it.”

In Brattleboro we’re lucky to have several fine breweries including McNeills on Elliot Street and Whetstone Station next to the bridge (and overlooking the Connecticut River).

Let us know what your favorite Vermont beer is in the comments section below or on our Facebook!


Vermont Farmers Markets Are Open!

May 3rd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

Vermont Farmers Markets

The Brattleboro Farmers Market is located on Rte 9 in West Brattleboro.  It’s open rain or shine, every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.  Farmers will have maple syrup, fresh greens, herbs, rhubarb, eggs and meats, garden plants and flowers, apples, root crops, preserves and jams.  Artisans and bakers offer sourdough breads, pastries and treats, granola, fruit wines and sparkling juices, jewelry, pottery, fabric arts, and soaps.

Foodies throughout Vermont are celebrating this weekend because Saturday is opening day for many of our farmers markets, including our favorite one– in Brattleboro.  I tag along with Chef Annette who visits the market religiously every week to fill her fridge with fresh, organic fruits and veggies.  I haven’t been cooking much lately so I just go for the freshly baked breads, local gourmet cheeses and… oh yes… lunch!

Lunch is the best part of Bratt’s Farmers Market.  Take your pick:  Indian, Malian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, wood-fired pizza– you name it.  Wash it down with steamy country coffee or a glass of the world’s best freshly squeezed lemonade.

The Brattleboro Farmers Market is located on Rte 9 in West Brattleboro.  It’s open rain or shine, every Saturday from 9am to 2pm.  Farmers will have “springtime harvests of new maple syrup, fresh greens, herbs, rhubarb, eggs and meats, garden plants and flowers, plus well-stored apples, root crops, preserves and jams.  Artisans and bakers offer sourdough breads, pastries and treats (many gluten-free choices), granola, fruit wines and sparkling juices, jewelry, pottery, fabric arts, and soaps.”

This Saturday on opening day, there will be music and Maypole dancing by  Andy Davis.  There’s something for everyone.  Call 802-254-8885 for more information.  Hope to see you there!


Recycling and Repurposing Stonehurst: Free Stuff!

April 27th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

What kind of free stuff is available at Stonehurst? Slate roofing tiles, old timbers, new windows and doors, old bricks, cement blocks, some rebar, insulation, a couple pieces of furniture and cabinetry and a few other odds and ends. Give us a call (802-275-5174), then stop by and check it out. Be sure to give us a call first so we can show you what’s free and what’s still being used for Stonehurst renovations (don’t get me into trouble with Ken). 

Stonehurst construction is nearing completion.  In a month or so we should be able to move out of our cramped quarters next to the Vernon Post Office into the 200 year old farmhouse we’ve been renovating for use as a showroom, art gallery and office space.  Woohoo!

Unfortunately, before the move we have lots of work ahead in wrapping up renovation activities, cleaning up the construction zone, doing landscaping and making the place worthy of your visit.  In light of that, Dennis and Douglas have joined forces in a concerted effort to persuade (coerce?) Ken and me to let go of the “construction debris” (or valuable building blocks for undefined future projects, according to Ken) and get Stonehurst ready for visitors asap.

If you can put these timbers and slate roofing tiles to good use, they’re yours.  Help us salvage what we can and while you’re here, have a look into the future of this 200 year old farmhouse.

So with that in mind, I offer these pieces of Stonehurst to you for recycling, upcycling, re-using or re-purposing.  Come and get ‘em!  If you or someone you know is interested, just give us a call (802-275-5174) and plan to meet us at Stonehurst (538 Huckle Hill Rd, Vernon, VT) after work at 5:30 almost any night for the next week or so.

What’s available?  Slate roofing tiles, old timbers, new windows and doors, old bricks, cement blocks, some rebar, insulation, a couple pieces of furniture and cabinetry and a few other odds and ends.  Stop by and check it out.  Help us salvage what we can from Stonehurst’s former days and while you’re here, have a look into it’s future.


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My First Blood Donation with VWS

April 24th, 2013 by Loryn Dion

my first blood donation

My “first time blood donation” sticker and Kendall and I preparing to donate.

Monday, people across the globe were doing good deeds to help our planet and celebrate nature. Here at Vermont Woods Studios, every day is spent helping our planet (we are the top retailer for locally sourced, sustainably produced furniture, after all) so we took some time out of the day to donate blood at the Vermont Advent Christian Home.

While Peggy has donated before, this would be my first blood donation experience. Being a first time donor, I was a little bit nervous going into it. I had always wanted to donate before, but I am kind of a wimp when it comes to pain so I have always talked myself out of it. But after the events during the Boston Marathon last week, a city near and dear to my heart, I knew that this was a fear I had to get over.

Looking back now, I have to say I kind of enjoyed it! We decided to walk over, since it was only a five minute walk from the office. After a little bit of paperwork and a quick check-up, I was in the chair, ready to donate. The volunteers and American Red Cross workers were very helpful and talked me through every step of the process and answered all of my questions, which helped to ease my mind. The actual donation only took about 10 minutes and it was not as painful as I was expecting it to be. My other fear was fainting after I gave blood (I’ve never fainted before, but there’s a first time for everything!). But after drinking some juice and enjoying some homemade baked goods, I felt fine and was ready to head back to work. For anyone nervous about signing up for their first time blood donation, you have nothing to worry about! It was easy, fun and you’ll feel great about making a difference!

It is a great feeling being able to help those in need. At Vermont Woods Studios, part of our mission is to be an active part of our community and participate in local service projects. I am so lucky to work for a company that is willing to support the causes that not only matter to our mission, but ones that matter to me as an employee. When I brought up to Peggy that I was interested in the blood drive, she, Kendall and Liz all signed up with me. Now who wouldn’t want to buy furniture from people like that?

Learn more about our mission and the other projects we participate in by checking out our sustainability page or by subscribing to our blog!


Happy Earth Day!

April 22nd, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

Earth Day 2013 - Greeting from Vermont!

The earth is beginning to thaw at Stonehurst, our soon to be Fine Furniture Showroom in Vernon, Vermont.  Join us and celebrate all the things each of us can do to honor nature and protect the earth’s flora and fauna today — Earth Day.

Greetings from Southern Vermont on Earth Day!  We hope you’re celebrating — perhaps with some local organic food or by joining a community gardening project or cleaning up the roadside or whatever.  Last year at Vermont Woods Studios we launched the Green Up Your Workplace Challenge where we used Facebook, our blog and some other physical and virtual venues to promote sustainability at work.

This year we’re swamped with our Stonehurst Fine Furniture Showroom project and haven’t had a chance to launch a 2013 Earth Day campaign.  But in lieu of that, I can report that we’ve been very careful to use local lumber and building materials for Stonehurst and we’ve re-used, re-purposed and recycled as much of the original design and structure whenever possible.  Stonehurst will truly be a green workplace.

We do have a couple modest Earth Day activities on tap today.  We’ll be installing the bluebird nesting boxes we made last month out of a Norway Spruce tree that had to be taken down from Stonehurst in the Fall (because it was leaning on the top of the building).   And we’ll be indulging in some local fare for lunch today… maybe from The Blue Moose Cafe or The Works in downtown Brattleboro.  If you’re in the Southern Vermont area you know we’re lucky to have many fine farm to plate local eateries to choose from on Earth Day and every day. Maybe we’ll see you at one of them.  Bon appetite and Happy Earth Day!



Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?

April 17th, 2013 by Peggy Farabaugh

Luxury Furniture | Avoiding Global Rainforest Destruction | Choosing Sustainable American Made Furniture

Organized crime is currently responsible for an unprecedented rate of rainforest destruction.  Unchecked illegal logging is rampant in tropical countries too poor to effectively monitor and enforce conservation regulations.  You can help save the rainforest by avoiding the purchase of imported forest products like wood furniture and flooring.

Forest conservation is at the heart of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios and we’re always trying to raise awareness about where your wood furniture comes from.  If you’re committed to buying American made furniture– no worries.  Chances are it’s made from legal wood, sustainably harvested from well-managed forests right here in North America.

But if you’re buying imported wood furniture (and according to a Washington Post article 70% of furniture sold in America is imported) then: Houston, we have a problem.

A recent Washington Post article by Brad Plumer entitled Organized Crime is Getting Rich Cutting Down the Rainforest describes how the illegal logging trade has become just as lucrative (and far more destructive) than the drug-trafficking industry.  50 to 90 percent of forestry in tropical areas is now controlled by criminal groups!  “A great deal of logging simply takes place illegally — much of it in tropical areas such as the Amazon Basin, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.” (ref: United Nations and Interpol)

The U.N. estimates that illicit logging is now worth between $30 billion to $100 billion, or up to 30 percent of the global wood trade.  That illegal wood is often shipped from pristine rainforests to China, Vietnam and other third world countries where it’s fabricated into low quality furniture which is sold to US consumers. We’ve written quite a bit about the links between rainforest destruction, global warming and the furniture and flooring you choose for your home:

If you’re considering buying furniture at IKEA, Home Depot or any big box store… ask where the lumber originates and let us know what you find on our Facebook or in the comments section below.  Then re-discover sustainable, American made wood furniture and join us in feeling good about your furniture and your green home.