I’m not sure how summer slipped away so quickly, but there’s no getting around it… leaf peeping season is upon us! Thousands of visitors will soon be motoring around the Green Mountain state enjoying the brilliant colors our maple trees are dressing up in. If you’re one of those lucky leisure travelers be sure to add the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences VINS in Quechee (near Woodstock) VT to your itinerary.
I started volunteering at VINS when Kendall and Riley were in the Vernon Elementary School, so over 15 years ago. They had a wonderful program called ELF (Environmental Learning for the Future) where parents would come into their childrens’ classrooms and give hands-on training using various wildlife artifacts we managed to come up with.
Today the VINS mission is mainly focused on bird conservation: “motivating individuals and communities to care for the environment through education, research, and avian wildlife rehabilitation.” It’s a “nonprofit, member-supported, environmental education, research and avian rehabilitation organization headquartered at the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vermont. Open year-round, the 47-acre campus, adjacent to Quechee State Park, features 17 state-of-the-art raptor enclosures, 4 exhibit spaces, 2 classrooms, and ¾ miles of interpretive nature trails. VINS places a priority on making high-quality, compelling, and fun environmental education programs and learning opportunities accessible to more people and communities.”
At Vermont Woods Studios we support VINS through their Adopt a Raptor, citizen science and other environmental programs. If you’re interested in learning more about VINS, becoming a member or visiting their beautiful Nature Center in Quechee, VT check out their website today!
A few hundred years ago, practically every Vermont farm had about a dozen cows and made their own milk, butter and cheese. This milk was brought to centrally located factories (cheese co-ops) that turned milk into butter and cheese as a way to extend the milk season and preserve the milk that would spoil otherwise. Chunks of ice were used as refrigeration in the early 1900s, until the introduction of the refrigerated truck after World War II. In the early 1950s, milk was collected by truck, bottled for distribution, and delivered throughout New England. Of all of the original cheesemakers, only a few originals remain: Crowley Cheese (1824), Grafton Cheese (1892), and Cabot Creamery (1893).
Fast forward to 2014, and Vermont has 45 cheesemaking members producing over 150 varieties of cheese. Not just regular ole’ cheese; but award winning, artisan cheese. One of the original cheese makers of Vermont, Cabot Creamery, has won awards in Best of Class for 2+ year Cheddar, Pepper Flavored Cheese, American Style Cheese, Hot Buffalo Wing Cheddar, and Cottage Cheese. And there’s more where that came from.
So, you may be wondering just why July is the cheesiest month in Vermont? Well, there are two fantastic cheese events that just cannot be missed:
“Vermont Farm Tours is offering an Artisan Cheese Tour and a Wine and Cheese Tour on Saturday, July 19! Tours are $95 per person and last the full day. Each tour visits three artisan producers and includes lunch, transportation, and tastings.
This year’s Artisan Cheese Tour will visit three unique Vermont cheesemakers, featuring cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses in a range of styles. We will meet the cheesemakers and tour their pastures, cheese rooms, and a cheese cave. Enjoy tastings with the cheesemakers themselves, including styles unavailable in stores. The tour will be guided byChris Howell, Vermont Farm Tours founder.
The Artisan Cheese Tour ($95 per person) includes van transportation, a local picnic lunch, tastings, tour notes, and a canvas Vermont Farm Tours bag to fill with cheese…” -Vermont Farm Tours
6th Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival Celebrates the Ages of Cheese Meet the Cheesemakers, Savor the Art, Taste the Craft
Shelburne, Vt. March 6, 2014 – The Vermont Cheesemakers Festival makes it’s sixth annual appearance on the shores of Lake Champlain this summer to celebrate Vermont cheeses, locally produced artisan foods, local wines, craft beers and distilled spirits- and the people who make them. The 6th Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival will be held on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
There’s still time to pack up and get ready to spend a wonderful, cheesy July weekend in Vermont! See you there! For more information, visit vtcheesefest.com
Vermont was recently ranked #2 in an article highlighting America’s best states to live in for 2014, just behind Hawaii. While Hawaii is great and all (tropical beach vacation… helloooo) I thought it’d be worthwhile to make a list of the top 5 reasons we love Vermont, and think it’s truly a great state to live in!
1. Forests. It’s proven that spending time in nature relieves stress, anxiety and depression, among other things. The state of Vermont is covered in trees, woodlands, and meadows, leaving you with no shortage of places to spend time outside and keep you feeling good! Not to mention, we have great places to camp and hike outdoors. My drive to work consists of deer, fox, and wild turkey spottings. My day at work consists of planting butterfly gardens and feeding the squirrels. My night consists of walks through the woods with my dog, who loves the freedom of roaming through the trees. If you’re a lover of the outdoors, Vermont is a great place for you.
2. Seasons. I grew up in a small town in Southern California, a place where the climate was moderate and averaged around 70 degrees throughout most Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. When I first moved to New England, I had never seen snow or experienced a crisp, Vermont autumn. I had never seen the beauty of the leaves turning so boldly or colorfully, or the major contrast between icy winters and summers only meant for swimming. Now that I’ve been here for many years, I look forward to the transition between the seasons and the ways life changes during each. It’s a special part of New England and a special part of Vermont, something non-existent in many other places around the US.
3. Commitment to local. The localvore movement is spreading across the United States, but a love for local has always been a part of Vermont’s ethos. From local cheeses, furniture, flowers, wine and beer; the culture of Vermont is one that prioritizes supporting our community and the people who work to make it great! It just so happens that Vermont is known for crafting the best of the best; the best microbrews, the best fine furniture, the best cheese, the best sweets, (and more) so we’re very lucky that supporting our local farmers, crafters and artisans is so easy!
4. No Billboards. Take a drive down any Vermont road and you’ll notice that the only thing lining the pavement is dirt, grass, and trees. Vermonters don’t want to disturb the beauty of the natural landscape with unnecessary advertisements, giving you the perfect highways and back roads for summer road trips and autumn leaf peeping. The photo above is the road leading right to our rural Vermont showroom, Stonehurst.
5. Sustainability. Besides all the woodlands & wildlife, Vermont is known for being “green” in another way. Vermont is a leader in the environmental movement with its stances on conservation, its passion for supporting local agriculture, and commitment to sustainable energy use. Curbside compost and recycling is the norm in many places around Vermont, and environmental education is a field of study people across the US are journeying to Vermont learn about! Plus, you’ll find lots of bikers! Some of our employees have even committed to biking to work sometimes instead of driving to save energy and reduce their eco-footprints.
Vermont is a great place to work, to live, and to explore… but if you can’t live here yourself, you can always take a piece of Vermont home with you by shopping for Vermont crafted furniture and home decor. Or if you find yourself at a local beer store, stay on the look out for Heady Topper, Long Trail, and Woodchuck Cider! The magic of Vermont can be found all over the place if you look for it!
Tell us what you love about Vermont on Facebook, Twitter, or leave us a comment.
Stop into New Englands Best Welcome Center on your Next Trip
If you are like most Vermont visitors coming up from points south via Interstate 91, you will probably be stopping at Vermonts first rest area, especially if you skipped the Wallingford Connecticut I-91 rest stop 100 plus miles earlier. For those of you not familiar with our state’s most popular highway pitstop it is more than just a rest stop. This beautiful welcome center not only has sparkling clean facilities, loads of free tourist information it also has wide ranging displays throughout featuring Vermont-made products.
Through out the year the center revolves the works of various Vermont artisans, craftspeople, and product manufacturers. Recently some of our sales team has gotten to know the welcome center staff in Guilford and arranged to have some of our fine hardwood furniture and Vermont made home decor items displayed there. If you would like to see more and you have the time, our Stonehurst showroom is in the neighboring town of Vernon.
Make the Guilford, Vermont welcome center and rest area part of your Vermont travel plans.
The center is conveniently located on interstate I-91 northbound just five minutes from the Massachusetts border and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. See their rave reviews on yelp & you will understand why this welcome center is a favorite of travelers entering the Green Mountain State!
This weekend marks the official 2014 Spring Open Studio Weekend in Vermont! This is a very special weekend where artists around the state open their studios to the public. Southern Vermont is home to some incredibly talented artists, so if you’re planning your Memorial Day trip to Vermont– this is a destination that cannot be missed. I’d suggest watching the video above to see just how unique this open studio weekend is, as further explained by the Vermont Crafts Council in this heartfelt statement:
“Most Vermont craftspeople work in studios located in or close to their residences. These are places of production and inspiration located in downtowns as well as at the ends of dirt roads. Wherever their locations, they are exciting places to visit because they reflect the dynamic yet organized process that is used to produce the finished work of art.
The studio itself is enormously informative because you can see at a glance how the artist works. You see the swatches that have not been chosen for the quilt or the work that is experimental or not serious enough for the gallery. Buying or ordering work during an Open Studio sale is a unique experience because you have the opportunity to speak to the artist directly.”
While you’re on your studio tour of Southern Vermont, we’d love to invite you to visit us as well. Our showroom is home to a handful of one of a kind artisan furniture designs from world class craftsmen from around Vermont. Their furniture designs are true works of art, and are never replicated. Our friendly staff will be here all weekend to welcome guests & answer any questions about these unique artisan pieces.