Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

costa rica

Earth Day Musing: Volunteering

April 21st, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Ken-volunteering Do you volunteer?  Are there any causes you feel passionate enough about to throw yourself into and try to make a difference.  If so, bravo for making the world a better place.  If not, maybe give volunteering a thought.  Yes, it takes time away from the urgencies of everyday life, but maybe a little breather away from all that work would do you good.







Here we are with Jenny, the school principal
Our family recently volunteered for a cause that's most near and dear to my heart:  rainforest conservation.  We partnered with the Eco Preservation Society of Costa Rica, a non profit that's actively engaged in wildlife conservation and reforestation in Central America. 

Our volunteer project gave us a chance to get to know the people who live in the rainforest and gain a better understanding of their priorities and how we can support them in their environmental mission (I'll expand on that later as we're currently exploring possible ways to help through projects at  Vermont Woods Studios Furniture). 


I don't want to be overly dramatic, but I think most people who have volunteered in projects like this, especially in third world countries, would agree that it's a life-changing experience.  You have a chance to give a little bit of yourself to others and to the cause, but actually it's you who receives the greatest benefit.

So, on this 40th anniversary of Earth Day, maybe give volunteering a thought. What's your passion?  What's your cause?  


Reforestation Partnership with The Eco Preservation Society to Save the Mono Titi

March 27th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Mono titi

Did you know that 80% of the planet's native forests are already gone?  In Costa Rica the last 50 years has brought about a transformation of the Pacific coast from a lush wild jungle to an alien landscape of non native crops like bananas, rice and African oil palms.  Cattle pastures and modern resorts occupy much of the remaining landscape.  In the midst of all this deforestation, the tiny Mono Titi monkey who previously ranged freely from Panama through Costa Rica has now become trapped on two small habitat areas of inhospitable landscape with no biological corridor to connect them to their native habitat, and no hope for survival without substantial intervention.





Picture 1 It is believed only 1700 of the monkeys remain. 

The Eco Preservation Society, led by environmentalist Kevin Peterson has launched an intense effort to save the Mono Titi and other indigenous Costa Rican animals through restoration of their native habitat along the corridor between the Naranjo and Savegre Rivers.

We'll be supporting this project at Vermont Woods Studios and we're encouraging our friends and customers to do the same.  You can learn more about the project to Save
the Mono Titi
at the Eco Preservation Society website.


A Bookcase for Natalia

March 24th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Natalia-BriceƱo is a teacher at the Portalon School in Costa Rica.  In the mornings, she and her fellow educators teach students in Grades 1-4 and in the afternoons, they teach students in the upper grades.  It makes for a very challenging day, especially since up until last week, they had no textbooks for their students to use.  And Natalia had no desk or locker or "space" of her own where she could store learning and teaching materials.







Lucky for Natalia and friends that down the road from their school is the community-minded eco resort of Portasol, operated by Costa Rican natives, Carlos and Guillermo Piedra.  Under the Piedra brothers leadership, the property owners at Portasol have partnered with the village of Portalon in a mission of social and environmental improvement.







The Portasol community has provided uniforms, text books, computers and more for the children at school.  Portasol families also "adopt" local families at Christmastime providing necessary food, clothing, shoes, toys and school supplies when needed.  How many resort communities have you heard about that partner with local communities like this?  None? 

It's a first for me too and that's why we volunteered to join the partnership and build furniture for the school.



Now Natalia has a bookcase she can call her own and a place to put all the teaching tools she needs for her heavy workload– teaching 2 different grades each day.  We enjoyed building it for you, Natalia and wish you every success in your teaching efforts in Portalon.  We look forward to returning to Costa Rica one day.  The principal needs a desk.


Portasol, Paradise with a Social and Environmental Mission

March 23rd, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

 At Vermont Woods Studios, our wood furniture business is built on a foundation of sustainable forestry and we are particularly interested in rainforest conservation.  Through the Eco Preservation Society in Costa Rica we were able to partner with Guillermo and Carlos Piedra in support of their work at Portasol an eco-resort within the local community of Potalon, Costa Rica. 



Portasol Guillermo and Carlos Piedra are pioneers in the development of socially and environmentally responsible resort communities in Costa Rica and indeed the world.  Their innovative development of the eco-community Portasol, a paradise along the western coast of Costa Rica, is nothing short of amazing.

Both Portasol management (The Piedras) and the property owners at Portasol are committed to forest stewardship and sustainability.  They also support the surrounding community of Portalon. 





We were introduced to a group of Portasol homeowners who were at the local school, donating text books to the children.  This was the first time the children were ever given textbooks and they were ecstatic! 





The homeowners also donated an incredible computer lab to the school… one I doubt you would find in any other school in Costa Rica!  See our photos on Flicker for more details about the Portalon school.

We are so impressed with this type of partnership.  It's a great example of how responsible, sustainable development can occur in such a way that both the environment and the community are enhanced.  More about how we joined this partnership in the next post.  Thanks for reading!


Handmade Furniture Project in Costa Rica

March 5th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Picture 1

We are heading off to Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica tomorrow to support the work of Kevin Peterson and the Eco Preservation Society.  Many thanks to Rayna Levin of EPS for doing such a stellar job of helping us with our arrangements for travel and volunteering. 

We'll be making Vermont Woods Studios furniture for a school in an eco-community called Portasol in Portalon.  We're excited to be able to help with this important conservation project and to learn about the many other projects Eco Preservation Society is doing to help save the rainforest.

Hopefully we'll have Internet access and be able to blog and tweet as we go.  Will keep you posted!


Partnering With The Eco Preservation Society

January 17th, 2010 by Peggy Farabaugh

Mono Titi
As wood furniture makers, we know that in order to keep our craft alive, we've got to be active participants in sustainable forestry.   We support non-profit groups like The Vermont Center for EcoStudios that work in conserving Vermont's forests and wildlife.   We're also concerned with rainforest conservation which is a major part of our mission at Vermont Woods Studios

Soon we'll be working with the Eco Preservation Society, a non-profit dedicated to wildlife conservation and reforestation in Costa Rica and elsewhere around the globe. 

We're excited about this partnership and will write more in the following days.   Eco Preservation Society shares our passion for conservation, education and reforestation.  We admire the work they're doing and are looking forward to visiting and volunteering at one of their research and reforestation projects in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. 

These are Costa Rican squirrel monkeys or mono titi.  They are highly endangered due to habitat destruction and the Eco Preservation Society is trying to save the species.  We'll be volunteering on the project and will write about it when we're down there.  Stay tuned!