2015 Accomplishments

Ken and I started this Vermont furniture store 10 years ago with the belief that businesses have a responsibility to make the world a better place.  In developing a company that sells handcrafted wooden furniture we wanted to raise awareness about forest conservation and persuade customers to purchase furniture made from sustainably harvested, North American wood.  A decade later, we’re not naive enough to think we’ve changed the world but perhaps we’ve changed a tiny part of it and that feels good.  Here are some highlights of what our team accomplished this year in support of our local community and our environmental mission:

Plant a Billion Trees Project

 Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: conservation
Vermont Woods Studios was founded on the mission of forest conservation and since the beginning, we’ve partnered with The Nature Conservancy to plant a tree for each order we take.  This year it was well over 1000 trees.

Monarch Habitat Restoration Project

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: habitat restoration
Nina, Peggy and other team members planted native milkweed seeds for a project that’s restoring habitat for monarch butterflies in Southeastern Vermont.

Vernon’s Giving Tree

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: giving back
Megan and other team members worked with officials from the Town of Vernon to provide Christmas gifts to local families in need.

Connecticut River Clean-up

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: river clean up
Ken, Sean and a bunch more team members participated in the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s (CRWC) yearly “Source to Sea” trash cleanup of the Connecticut River.  Afterwards we cooled off at Nesbitt’s Portside Tavern :)

Meals on Wheels

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: meals on wheels
Kelsey helped Riley deliver Meals on Wheels, an activity this Vermont furniture store has done every Friday since the company was created.

Vermont Food Bank Thanksgiving Project

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We helped the Vermont Food Bank distribute food during the annual “Pack to Give Back” event in Brattleboro this Thanksgiving.

Salamander Conservation

salamander-conservation
Vermont Woods Studios supported BEEC (Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center) at their annual Salamander Soiree, an event that raises awareness about amphibian migration. Some team members also went out at night and helped salamanders cross the roads on their journey to local vernal pools.

River Arts Gallery Auction

river-gallery-fundraiser
We donated a handmade wooden bed to the annual River Gallery Arts fundraiser in Brattleboro.

Wags to Riches Auction

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Vermont Woods Studios donated a 3-Day weekend stay at Stratton Mountain Resort and a beautiful POLYWOOD Adirondack chair to the annual Wags to Riches fundraiser for the Windham County Humane Society.

 Environmental Education at Vernon Elementary School

sponsored BEEC’s Aquatic Field Trip, where Vernon Elementary School students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem and observe a variety of aquatic organisms
We sponsored an Aquatic Field Trip, where local students got the opportunity to explore a pond ecosystem.

Rainforest Conservation

Rainforest conservation at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia's Amazon rainforest
Peggy, Riley and Kendall made a trip to the Amazon rainforest in Bolivia this year to lend support to a reforestation project at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia.

Providing Toys & Food for Kids in the Amazon Rainforest

Vermont Furniture Store environmental mission: rainforest conservation
We donated over $200 to bring Christmas gifts and food to children in the Amazon through Marco’s Holiday Giving Project.  Thanks to Riley for setting this up!

As we close out 2015, I extend my thanks to the customers, staff members, furniture makers, family, friends, neighbors and business partners whose support made the accomplishments of this small Vermont furniture store possible. Here’s to your health and happiness in 2016!

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.

This post is one in a series about Vermont Woods Studios’ mission of rainforest conservation and our support of Bolivian environmentalists dedicated to reforestation and ecotourism in the AmazonPart 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.

A Passion for The Rainforest

I have a confession to make.  I did not start Vermont Woods Studios because I had a deep, abiding love of handmade furniture.  Mind you, I HAVE developed a sort of reverence for it over these past 10 years, but that wasn’t the driving force for me.

It was my passion for the rainforest that got this sustainable furniture company started. 

I think it may have been Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey who initially drew me into environmental conservation in the 60s.  Or maybe it was Mom, who had us kids outdoors all the time and kept a stack of National Geographic magazines handy for the rare moments we were in the house.

Anyway, for some reason, when I lost my job in 2005 I decided to quit the corporate world and get back to my youthful aspirations of doing something “green”.  I had become convinced that our generation’s most important conservation priority was to preserve the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests. I wanted to focus the rest of my working life helping people understand the tragedy of this loss and the fact that they could do something about it.

Ken had just finished building a woodworking shop on the back of our house.  I thought maybe we could marry his woodworking background with my love of the rainforest to create a new kind of green business.  After several attempts and stumbles we came up with Vermont Woods Studios: a website where Vermont furniture makers could market and sell furniture made from sustainably harvested wood.

The company would be a vehicle to help us persuade people to stop buying furniture and flooring made with illegally harvested rainforest wood.  The plan was pretty detailed, even including a Manifesto.

 

Sustainable furniture and flooring
Global rainforest destruction is happening now at a rate of  1 acre per second. 60 seconds per minute. 60 minutes per hour, 24/7/365. It’s the greatest extinction in the history of the earth. Once the rainforest is gone, it’s gone forever.  Interested in conserving the rainforest and preserving the iconic species who’ve lived there for millions of years? Learn how your choices for furniture, flooring and other forest products can help.

Not That Easy Being Green

But soon reality hit and although I was always guided by conservation, I quickly learned that small businesses don’t have a lot of time or money for environmental projects.  We did what we could… making support of environmental non-profits (like the World Wildlife Fund, the Rainforest Alliance, Vermont Center for EcoStudies and many others in our own community) a cornerstone of our business.  We also work with The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project to plant a tree for every furniture order we take.  And a number of times we’ve traveled to the rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama where we did some volunteering.

In retrospect I can say that we have made progress on our mission.

But I feel like we’ve fallen short in getting the word out that how we build and furnish our homes has a huge impact on the future of our planet. 

We have to figure out how to spotlight the difference consumers can make by choosing sustainably harvested wood flooring and furniture as opposed to that made from illegally harvested rainforest woods (think: Lumber Liquidators and Ikea).

A Trip to The Amazon

So I’m taking a trip to the Amazon rainforest. 

It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the opportunity.  Next post I’ll share how this trip came about and what I hope to accomplish.  I am so grateful to our customers, employees and other allies who have supported our business throughout these 10 years, thus making such an endeavor possible.

Thank You!

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.

This photo was taken by Lori S. of Georgia, Vermont who shared this photo on the Vermont State Parks facebook page!

Picture this: It’s past 10pm and Peggy is outside in her rainboots, a bright yellow raincoat, and some reflective gear. She has a bucket on her arm, a flashlight in one hand, and a big spotted salamander in her other hand. It’s cold and raining and way past her bedtime but dozens of these local amphibians need her help! Yep, It’s salamander migration season! For the past 15 years Peggy has been helping these Spot-tacular salamanders make it across busy roads towards the vernal pools they use for breeding. With the help of great organizations like BEEC, we’ve saved hundreds of salamanders from being run over by cars (and depending on the amount of traffic, this can result in huge dents in the salamander population)!

Helping Salamanders at Stonehurst
Smile, you’re on Salamander camera! These little guys were making moves right around Stonehurst. 

You may be wondering why the owner of a furniture company is spending her free time helping frogs and salamanders cross the roads.  I can assure you that it’s actually very relevant and important work, and it’s quite symbolic of the exact reason she started Vermont Woods Studios in the first place.

Our forests are so much more than just trees. When Peggy started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005, she  was inspired to help save disappearing animal habitats by promoting sustainable forestry. Did you know that almost every species of large primate & big cat are endangered? While these salamanders aren’t endangered (at least not yet), we want to make sure it stays that way! These salamanders have been following the same migration patterns for hundreds of years, way before roads and cars and all of the man-made things that put them in danger. On nights where we might have missed them crossing, there is evidence left on the roads of the threat to the survival of these crawly creatures that cars pose.

The least we can do is help these slow movers make it to where they’re headed.

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Here’s my #NatureSelfie! That’s Peggy in the background making her way to check up on the salamander eggs.
Salamander photos
You can find many different types of eggs in local Vernal pools. Can you guess which ones are Spotted Salamander eggs?

After the salamanders have crossed and made it to the vernal pools, we visit them to see how many egg clusters we can find. This helps us keep track of the success of the salamanders each year and assures us that our efforts are making a difference!

All in all, we take care and keep track of the success of the salamander migration because we care about our environment– even the smallest parts! If you’re interested in learning more about helping salamanders, check out the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center website.

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.

Earth Day Celebration
We love getting to spend time outside the showroom. We sit on 100+ acres of woodland, making it the perfect place to get outside and enjoy the majestic woods! Living & working in Vermont inspires us to make sustainability a priority in our business and our personal lives.

Earth Day Gives us the Opportunity to Reflect on our Environmental Impact

Each & Every one of us at Vermont Woods Studios works here for a reason; we are passionate about Vermont furniture and we are passionate about keeping our forests thriving. We love the outdoors, and we love the environment. Earth day is very special to us, and this year we’ve decided to each make a pledge towards making our everyday lives more eco-friendly. It’s easy to forget about the impact of even the smallest choices we make sometimes, and we’re excited to be more environmentally conscious this year.

This Earth Day, I pledge to….

Peggy: I pledge to buy more organic and bird friendly coffee for the office.

Douglas: I pledge to stop using plastic water bottles. My daughter and I use 20+ a week when working out– we’re both going to start using large glass mason jars instead!

Dennis: I pledge to maintain the bird houses I just built and put up around my house.

Liz: My pledge is to create a compost bin and start composting at my cabin, as I’ve been wanting to for a long time!

Sean: My pledge is to buy less clothes this year and to donate all of my old or unwanted clothes to charity!

Michelle: I pledge to eat more food from my own garden this year.

Loryn: I pledge to drive less since I will be buying a bike soon!

Kelsey: I pledge to grow monarch-friendly plants outside of my apartment.

Nina: My pledge is to collect rainwater and use that to water my garden, rather than wasting water from the faucet!

So what’s your Earth Day pledge? Remember that even a small change in your lifestyle can make a huge difference in our planet! We’d love to hear what you’re eco-change is going to be this year. Let us know on Facebook or send us a Tweet!

 

 

 

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.

International Day of Forests is held anually on March 21st as a way to raise awareness for sustainable forest management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of our planet and for current and future generations.

Why Raising Awareness about our Forests is Important

Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations.

They play a key role in our battle against climate change. Forests contribute to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air. They protect watersheds, which supply fresh water to rivers.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, we are destroying the very forests we need to survive. Global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.” (UN)

Participating in International Day of Forests

Forests are a vital part of our local and international ecosystem. At Vermont Woods Studios, we’re proud to make our commitment to sustainable forestry the driving force behind our mission. We hope that by promoting sustainable wood products, our audience will become more aware of where their wood furniture comes from & choose not to support companies who practice unsustainable logging practices. We celebrate trees & forests each and every single day.

 For International Day of Forests, countries across the globe will celebrate trees and forests with a variety activities spanning from community level activities like film showings and tree plantings, to national and international campaigns through art, photography & social media. What are you doing to celebrate International Day of Forests? Let us know in the comments section or on Facebook!

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.