People often ask me why on earth we located our new sustainable furniture store in the middle of Vermont’s woodlands. The truth is that I don’t see Vermont Woods Studios as a furniture store. Yes we have IMHO a beautiful showcase of the best quality handmade furniture Vermont has to offer. But our business was built first and foremost, out of my passion for wildlife & forest conservation. I wanted to show people where their furniture comes from. And I wanted to appeal to them to buy furniture and flooring that come from forests that are re-planted and professionally managed for wildlife & sustainability.
We located Stonehurst in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest…
so customers could enjoy the 100 acre woodland we’re on and experience the beauty of the forest
so we could raise awareness about forest conservation and the fact that much of the wood furniture and flooring in America is made from imported rainforest timber that’s being mowed down at the mind-boggling rate of over 1 acre/second
so we could persuade people to buy American made furniture and flooring– a healthier, more sustainable choice for both people & planet
so we could inspire people to change the world
For the first 7 years our Vermont Woods Studios was an online furniture store. Our staff worked out of a spare bedroom in my house. When customers wanted to visit us we would invite them to Ken’s tiny workshop in the back of the house. But as business grew and more people wanted to visit, we figured maybe it was safe to set up shop in a more suitable location. From the very beginning we knew it had to be in the woods.
Ken and I founded Vermont Woods Studios fine furniture store almost nine years ago. As a woodworker, Ken’s interest was in earning a living by promoting the tradition of high quality Vermont made wood furniture. For me, the project was about forest conservation and my desire to help protect forest habitat and wildlife for future generations*. Over the years it’s been a challenge managing this yin-yang pair of objectives but I think we’ve been able to maintain a pretty good balance.
Stonehurst Opens Up New Opportunities for Forest Conservation
This year we have a chance to bring a whole new dimension to our forest conservation mission through our newly acquired property at Stonehurst. The farmhouse we purchased and renovated into a Vermont made furniture gallery sits on 100 wooded acres in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest. In the past our environmental mission was largely fulfilled by donating to like-minded non-profits**, but now we can also also partner with them by providing forest habitat for various conservation projects.
Below are a few conservation activities we’re supporting for 2014:
Woodlands for Wildlife – Vermont Coverts educates landowners in sound forest management practices and the principles of stewardship for the enhancement of wildlife. Ken and I are attending their 3-day seminar on forest and wildlife management this spring to learn how to improve wildlife habitat and provide better conditions for native deer, turkeys, moose, bear, birds, bob cats, chipmunks, squirrels and other species that may be living at Stonehurst.
MonarchWatch - When Kendall and Riley were in elementary school we used to capture monarch caterpillars, watch their metamorphosis and tag the butterflies before waving them off on their epic migration to Mexico every fall. But for the past several years I haven’t seen even a single monarch. So this year we’ll support Chip Taylor at MonarchWatch by planting butterfly gardens (including milkweed) and encouraging others to do the same.
Vermont Center for Eco Studies- VCE is a group of Vermont’s foremost conservation scientists who inspire citizen volunteers across Vermont and around the world. We’ve been supporting them for years and are excited about being able to use Stonehurst as a place to gather data for their many programs including:
Vernal pool mapping
VT reptile and amphibian atlas
VT breeding bird survey
Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center – BEEC’s annual Salamander Soiree is this Saturday April 5th from 6-8:30pm in Brattleboro at the River Garden on Main Street. We’ll be there to help recruit crossing guards for this year’s annual amphibian migration.
If you’re in our neighborhood and share similar interests, please stop by Stonehurst, give us a call or connect with us on Facebook. Let us know what you’re working on and how we can help. As the southern most corner of Vermont, Vernon can play a significant role in our state’s conservation efforts. Let’s make it happen!
* We are losing the worlds forests at a rate of > 1 acre/second. A major factor in deforestation is widespread illegal logging for timber that’s used to make cheap furniture sold by IKEA, Home Depot and other big-box stores. Our goal at Vermont Woods Studios is to help raise awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuade people to buy sustainable furniture made from legally harvested wood.
** The non-profits we’ve supported include the World Wildlife Fund WWF, The Nature Conservancy TNC, Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC, Vermont Center for Ecostudies VCE and others working to conserve forests and wildlife.
In Vermont the seasons are still tied to production of wood furniture. Winter provides the best opportunity for careful logging because frozen ground is less susceptible to damage. And Spring begins a new cycle for forest stewardship planning– a process that ensures availability of wood for future generations. At Vermont Woods Studios that process is led by Lynn Levine (our professional forester) who helps manage the 100 acre woodland that Stonehurst sits upon. A woodland we’re using to help people understand where their furniture comes from: trees that are sustainably harvested.
What is Sustainable, Eco Friendly Furniture?
I just googled “sustainable eco friendly furniture” and came up with everything from IKEA (who was recently suspended from the Forest Stewardship Council FSC for illegally clear cutting 600 year old trees in Russia) to Pottery Barn (well known for greenwashing campaigns like their eco chic collection). At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve written a lot about sustainable furniture and how it’s defined. Because we sell mainly wooden furniture we focus on responsible sourcing, green certification of wood, advantages of local and American made furniture, and the importance of recycled and handmade furniture. For examples of a wider variety of eco friendly furniture, check out the latest green furniture articles on Inhabitat.
Why Buy Sustainable Furniture?
“Every dollar you spend or don’t spend is a vote you cast for the world you want.” – L.N. Smith
A couple other reasons that come to mind include:
better health for your family (no exposure to the flammables, lead and toxic coatings that are often present in furniture)
less investment in furniture over the long run (sustainable furniture is built to last a lifetime so no replacements are necessary) and
support for local communities that produce sustainable furniture
Have some reasons of your own? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section below.
Sustainability is more than just a green product– to be truly sustainable, a company must ensure that their workers receive fair compensation for their considerable talent and are paid a living wage, in a safe and healthy work environment. This is something we’re passionate about at Vermont Woods Studios.
Scattered across rural Vermont are workshops large and small where the tradition of crafting fine, solid wood furniture continues to be handed down from one generation to the next. These craftsmen are passionate about what they do, and continue to create heirloom quality designs knowing that they will be lasting treasures in someones home. They are passionate for creating a safe and healthy product for both the customer and the environment.
Many furniture companies have grown exponentially over the years, but we continue to strive to provide only the best hardwood furniture these gifted independent furniture makers from across Vermont have to offer. We want to continue to share their craft with the world, and bring our customers the best sustainable furniture options possible. Without solid relationships with our Vermont furniture makers, our mission wouldn’t be possible.
Our furniture makers workshops range in size from a single artisan to a couple dozen craftsmen to the larger companies (Copeland Furniture and Lyndon Furniture) that employ about 75-100 craftspeople each. Some sustainable furniture makers craft ultra luxury artisan custom furniture and each of their pieces is unique, made in a small studio, usually by a single artisan, with the occasional help of an apprentice or a family member. Other craftspeople produce more classic handcrafted wood furniture designs which they make routinely at affordable prices.
We are proud, and very fortunate to be able to work with such a talented and passionate group of people.
Hard wood furniture lovers, beware! At this very moment, armies of invasive bugs and diseases are on the prowl, hunting down your favorite maple, oak, cherry, walnut and other backyard trees to turn them into food and bedding for their young. Check out this article by Faith Campbell in the Nature Conservancy blog, “How to Save Countless Trees in 10 Minutes or Less“.
Asian Longhorn Beetle
Faith talks about the dreaded Asian Longhorn Beetle ALB, one of many non-native insects and diseases that have been brought to America accidentally by way of imported plants or in crates and pallets. Vermont’s iconic maples, along with elms, ash, and oaks are a favorite home to these large, shiny, black and white beetles from Asia.
The entire Northern hardwood forest is at risk and if we can’t get people like you to help fight back, 48 million acres in the United States plus the majority of Canada’s hardwood forests could be destroyed. Also at risk are shade trees along city streets and in backyards all across the country. The ALB could kill up to two thirds of urban trees if it becomes established!
3 Things You Can Do to Save Our Hardwoods
There are many ways you can help keep invasive killer bugs and diseases from destroying our hardwoods. Here are some suggestions from VermontInvasives.org
Buy Local Firewood– Tree killing insects and diseases can lurk in firewood. Don’t move invasives to new areas on firewood
By working together can we fight the killer bugs that threaten our forests, our food supplies, our waters and the thousands of jobs dependent on them. You can help stop the spread and protect the natural resources you love.