Vt-birds-coffeeI do love my work here at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture but if I could pick a dream job for just a month or a year, I think it might be working as a biologist for The Vermont Center for Ecostudies VCE.

Here's how they describe their work:  "VCE biologists scale high peaks, paddle remote ponds, slog through wetlands, visit ordinary backyards, and traverse the Americas to study birds, insects, mammals, amphibians and other wildlife."  How cool would that be?

One of my favorite VCE project areas is bird conservation.  In fact, we named a line of our furniture after Roz Renfrew a champion VCE ecologist. Roz has dedicated her life to conserving tropical habitat for Vermont migratory birds in places like Hispaniola and Bolivia.  Through her work we've come to understand the importance of buying shade grown coffee.

 

 

Bird-friendly-coffee

 

It turns out that the reason we started Vermont Woods Studios (to promote rainforest conservation) is also the reason to buy "bird friendly coffee".  Whereas coffee used to be grown under the canopy of the rainforest (thus providing great habitat for birds) it's now more profitable to cut the rainforest down and grow coffee in the sun.  Besides requiring tons of pesticides and fertilizers which destroy life in nearby streams, rivers and coastline this un-natural practice eliminates critical habitat for birds.

So… I've been able to make the switch at home, no problem but now I've got to get Douglas to find Bird Friendly coffee for our Kuerig dispenser at work.  I've looked everywhere and can't find it. Any ideas?  I'd welcome your suggestions below or on our Facebook.  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.

Sustainable-furnitureKendall posted a new webpage the other day on the link between your furniture, rainforest conservation and a greener, more sustainable world. It's why we do what we do at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Wood Furniture.

 

Sometimes I feel like a nutcase– living in Vermont and talking about rainforest conservation all the time.  But I can't help it.  It's one of the Top 3 environmental problems of our time, yet few people seem to know about it.

 

Check out these rainforest facts and let me know if you too see this as a matter of great urgency.

 

Rainforest-conservation-furniture

  1. 1.5 acres of rainforest are lost every second (that equates to 50 million acres a year: an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined)

  2. 54 of the world's 193 countries have lost 90 percent or more of their forest cover. Rainforests that once covered 14% of the earth's land surface now cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.
  3. Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next 25 years due to rainforest deforestation.
  4. We are losing approximately 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year.
  5. As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.
  6. Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations
  7. There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.
  8. In Brazil alone, European colonists have destroyed more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900's. With them have gone centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing.
  9. In Indonesia, the current aggressive rate of logging could eradicate native forests within only 10 years. Unlike our temperate forests in Vermont for example, rainforests do not regenerate after they are destroyed. Once gone, they are gone forever and along with them the wonderful diversity of plants and wildlife that inhabit them.

If you've managed to read this far, you rock! Leave a comment below or check in with us now and then on Facebook to see what we're doing to to help replant the rainforest with our Plant a Billion Trees project.  Join us and together we can make a difference!

 

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.

Vt-furniture-fundraiser-natureDouglas just delivered the numbers for our Sustainable Furniture Sale last Saturday, November 12.  We sponsored a fundraiser for The Nature Conservancy's Plant A Billion Trees Initiative.

I can report that your furniture purchases generated a $418 donation to The Nature Conservancy.  Half of that will be donated to the local Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and half will to the national/international TNC campaign.

We wish to thank all of our customers and readers who bought furniture or promoted our event.  We look forward to working with Jennifer Kramer, our local TNC representative to further strengthen our partnership with Nature.org.

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.

My friennd Annette sent this nature quote to me a couple years ago but I still think about it often:

Few are altogether deaf to the preaching of pine trees.
Their sermons on the mountains go to our hearts;
and if people in general could be got into the woods, even for once,
to hear the trees speak for themselves,
all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish.

-John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)



Fall-colors-vtJohn Muir co-founded the Sierra Club and is often referred to as the Father of the USA National Park Service.  He is America's most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist.  At Vermont Woods Studios, our mission is founded on sustainable forestry, so Muir's life and accomplishments serve as a poignant reminder of the important things that just one person can do.  Here's how Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard put it in an interview with Sierra Magazine:

  •  If you think about all the gains our society has made, from independence to now, it wasn't government. It was activism. People think, 'Oh, Teddy Roosevelt established Yosemite National Park, what a great president.' BS. It was John Muir who invited Roosevelt out and then convinced him to ditch his security and go camping. It was Muir, an activist, a single person.

I really do believe that each of us can make a difference and help to change the world.  What do you think? 

Heading out for a walk in the woods now :)

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.

We're big tree lovers here at Vermont Woods Studios Furniture. Yes, we rely on them as natural resources for your furniture but also– Vermonters just have a very personal connection to the forest.  Stewardship and sustainability are a part of us.

I happened to catch a great show on PBS the other night called Return to the Forest Where We Live.  It focused on our country's urban forests and the vital role they play in the economic health of our cities.  Would you believe that about 2400 acres/day are being converted from rural to urban land use in America?  Joni Mitchell said this decades ago:  when you cut down trees to put up parking lots you end up with trouble. 

Now we know that among other problems, deforestation increases the temperature of these formerly rural cities by anywhere from five to ten degrees. And that hot temperature really does have a negative impact.  It lowers air quality because hot trees are less healthy and unable to scrub the air of CO2 and pollutants effectively.

Loss of trees in cities also causes flooding, erosion, runoff and water pollution.

Scientist can now quantify the economic benefits of trees in urban areas.  City planners are seeing the hard financial facts about the role of green spaces in reducing air pollution, erosion, summer temperatures, storm water problems and smog.  They are fighting for budgets to increase urban forests and trees and showing the enormous savings associated with the planting and management of trees.  In fact, six million trees provide about $64 million worth of benefits every year.  Where else are you going to get a better than 10:1 return on investment?

Trees can make a big difference to the quality of lives in urban areas. They modify the microclimate of our environments, they clean our air, they reduce flooding and rainfall runoff, they protect our soil from erosion. They just contribute to the quality of our environment, and the quality of our life in many, many ways.

So anyway, I just loved this Tree show on Louisiana PBS and I'm going to celebrate Earth Day by planting a tree.  You can do so too.  If it's not easy to plant one yourself, you can have The Nature Conservancy plant one for you.  They'll do it for $1/tree as part of their Plant A Billion Trees Campaign.

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.