Vermont Working Landscape Grant
This is the “backyard” of Stonehurst, our future Vermont made furniture gallery and nature center.  We’ve applied for a grant from the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative to close the final funding gap so we can complete Stonehurst renovations by mid-summer.

What do you love best about Vermont?  Our maple syrup?  Organic cheese?  Skiing or snowboarding?  Mountain climbing?  Our farm to plate restaurants?  Chances are whatever your favorites are in Planet Vermont, they are here for you because of Vermont’s working landscape.  That’s the term Vermonters are using to refer to the Green Mountain state’s pastoral forests and fields– and there’s a concerted effort afoot to ensure they will remain sustainable.

Last year our Legislature passed the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative which  allocated $1Million to “stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest product sectors by systematically advancing entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation.”  A request for proposals to carry out the WL initiative was issued last year and yesterday was the deadline for submittals.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs from all across the state have offered ideas and projects that will eventually add up to a wave of renewed commitment and progress in sustaining our working lands.  We at Vermont Woods Studios are among the group.

Our proposal seeks to use WL grant monies to close the final funding phase of renovating our Stonehurst Furniture Gallery and Nature Center.  From a Working Lands perspective, one of the advantages of Stonehurst is that it tells the story of where Vermont made furniture comes from and how it’s made– sustainably.

Putting our Working Lands proposal together has been quite a process and regardless of whether we win an award, I think it’s been time well spent.  I know the grant is highly competitive.  It’s my understanding that the WL Board received some 268 proposals  for a total request of over $12 million.  They are working with only $1Million in funding, so the odds aren’t good.

But I feel our proposal answers an important need in providing a market for Vermont’s wood furniture and a destination that will attract customers from beyond our borders.  We’ve been able to forge many new partnerships and collaborations as a result of the grant application process and that alone makes the effort worthwhile.

Decisions on grant awards are expected in April and we’ll keep you posted.  Best of luck to everyone who has invested their time into this important project!

 

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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.

Blue Bird Nesting Box
We used the lumber from one of the “hazardous trees” we had to cut down to make blue bird nesting boxes.

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.

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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 Furniture Showroom
Much work has been done to the previously detached accessory building. The former studio apartment is now connected to the rest of the building and is under some major remodeling.

Since the new addition was built to attach the two existing buildings, the crew has been hard at work connecting the new “L” shape structure to make everything under one roof. A key part of this project was aligning the roof lines. The detached accessory building’s roof line was substantially lower than the new addition and the main house’s roof. Another key part of this project was getting all the floors at the same level. The original flooring structure was removed and lowered almost two feet. In the “After” photo above you can see the lowered floor in comparison to the old entryway door.

This room is going to get new, larger windows in a later part of construction, in addition to a cherry wood floor and a ceiling made out of reclaimed wood boards. We aren’t certain what this floor space in our showroom will house, but we think it will display our bedroom furniture pieces.

The accessory building was last used as a studio apartment, so it needed a lot of dismantling. You can see the living room area in the “Before” photo above. On Facebook we have a Stonehurst-Before construction album, where you can see a photograph of the apartment’s old kitchen, bathroom and loft sleeping area.

Much remains to be done but the hard parts and hard weather seem to be passed us. There is still construction work being done in other areas of Stonehurst, and we will bring you up to date the next time around. We are expecting the showroom remodel to be completed in mid May!

Continue to follow our blog for construction updates on the Vermont Woods Studios Showroom, Stonehurst.

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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.

Finding a Beautiful Vermont View After Nemo
We found a beautiful Vermont view after Nemo blew through Vernon yesterday.  The storm made for great skiing and sledding on Vernon’s lost ski area, Pine Top and throughout the state.

Like most Vermonters we were lucky to find Nemo pretty tolerable– for a winter storm, that is.  Vernon got about a foot of fluffy white snow and our dedicated road crew was out pushing it around in no time.  Finally it’s winter in Vermont!

When I was a kid, storms like this were routine throughout the winter.  We grabbed our skis and happily headed towards the slopes.  So today I thought it fitting to give the snowy slopes of Pine Top, aka Stonehurst a try.  I found the old toboggan my parents gave my siblings and me for Christmas many years ago and pulled it up to the top of the hill (fortunately Ken had re-conditioned it when Kendall and Riley were little and it’s still in great shape).

I found a spectacular Vermont view on the knob where the old Pine Top warming shed used to be!  Today was a beautiful day for sledding and the snow was dry and fast.  I made a few trips up and down the slope before I started pining away for the ancient rope tow that used to be installed at Vernon’s former ski area.  Or even the old horse tow that preceded that.

Ken Enjoying the View at Pine Top | A Lost Ski Area in Vernon, VT
Ken’s version of sledding.

Then I saw that Ken had finished plowing and had found an alternative way to enjoy the view, so I wrapped up my sledding and joined him for a drink.  After all the winter weather watches and warnings, it turns out Nemo wasn’t so bad after all.

If you’re in the area, stop by Pine Top, take a sleigh ride and enjoy the view before the snow melts!  We’ll supply the drinks.

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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 Furniture Showroom
We built an addition to bridge the two existing buildings, creating an “L” shape showroom.

The last time we updated you on the progress of our showroom remodel, we were still in a demolition phase. In our post Digging Up The Future, we shared that a large hole had been excavated to make space for the new addition’s foundation. When we purchased Stonehurst, there were two buildings: the main house and the detached accessory building. In order to create our planned “L” shape showroom, we needed to build an addition to bridge the existing buildings.

It’s been an unusual winter with the grounds going back and forth between mud and frozen. Through snow, rain, and heavy winds our construction team managed to join the old with the new. The addition has been framed and roofed. It fits perfect, and we expect it to look like it has always been a part of the building. Some other exciting progress is that some floor boards have been reclaimed to become the ceiling surface in one of the rooms of the showroom.

In the next few weeks we will see windows and doors going in, siding being put up, and roofing. Once the building is weather-tight, the construction team will begin the interior work. After six weeks, we’re all excited about the progress and seeing it take shape!

Continue to follow our blog for construction updates on the this Vermont Furniture Showroom– Stonehurst.

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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.