Out of the Woods Local business featured nationally
By CHRIS GAROFOLO / Reformer Staff
Tuesday June 29, 2010
VERNON -- Operating out of a spare room of a Vernon farmhouse, one Vermont business has quickly gained a national reputation for supplying quality furniture from sustainable sources around the Green Mountain State.
Vermont Woods Studios, a five-year old company specializing in marketing handcrafted furniture, has caught the eye of several nationally broadcasted programs as a leader in promoting sustainably harvested pieces.
Peggy Farabaugh, co-owner of Vermont Woods Studios with her husband, Ken, appeared on The Strategy Room on FOX News Channel on May 14 to talk about sustainable business management.
What’s sustainable about furniture, Farabaugh is oftentimes asked. To answer that question, she points to the combination of locally-made furniture with environmental policies of forest stewardship and preservation, which is part of the business’ mission.
"You can help the environment with your purchasing power," she said. Next month, she will travel to Atlanta to speak to the Weather Channel’s Mark Elliot on The Lightning Rod to discuss the link between furniture and the weather. Farabaugh also can make a similar sustainability link to weather and furniture. Up to 90 percent of purchased furniture in the United States are imported and made from illegally clear-cutted wood from the rainforests, which play a role in regulating the global weather by producing oxygen.
Instead of having the rain forests disappear for timber sales, Farabaugh said choosing American-made furniture can decrease the demand for illegally harvested wood.
The Weather Channel program will air live sometime in late July or early August. The Farabaughs have built a successful business through utilizing woodworkers, like Ken, who specialize in Vermont-made furniture but do not like the marketing aspect of the profession.
So the couple launched an Internet business to work with businesses making furniture in the Green Mountain State. Roughly 15 companies scattered throughout Vermont work with Farabaugh using the traditional methods to construct green, sustainably harvested furniture from well-managed forests throughout New England. And there’s a lifetime guarantee, said Farabaugh, proud of the high quality Vermont woodworkers can provide.
"We try to help preserve their craft," she said. "Because in economic times like this, people are really leaning toward cheaper priced furniture that doesn’t have the same quality. We want to help these guys preserve the tradition of fine-furniture making."
Cabinet maker Greg Goodman, a residential and commercial woodworker operating out of The Cotton Mill in Brattleboro, has worked with the Farabaughs for years. About 10-15 percent of his business comes from Vermont Woods Studios. From his studio, Goodman takes photographs of his completed pieces, such as his old-English style trestle table, and sends them to Farabaugh, who places them online as part of the extended website.
"That is very helpful to use because if we had to deal with the telephone inquires, it eats up a lot of time," he said. "So she filters all that and only passes on serious customers." Woodworks like Goodman can customize orders through Vermont Woods Studio, or simply get matched with a customer to find the best fit for both the consumer and the furniture maker. "We’re going to connect you with somebody who is going to give you the best quality and the best price," said Farabaugh.
On the Web: vermontwoodsstudios.com.
Chris Garofolo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311 ext. 275.
Vermont Woods Studios President Joins Governor Douglas and Others in Celebrating Construction of Senior Housing Facility in Vernon
[Vernon, VT] - Capping a 20+-year, community-wide effort, construction has begun for a new housing development in Vernon to serve seniors at all income levels. On hand to celebrate this momentous occasion were Governor James Douglas, Representative Patty O'Donnell, Vernon Senior Housing Committee members Peggy Farabaugh, Carol Mikuski, Brad Pfenning, Betty Bailey, Fred Green, George Brown, Town employees and officials, and many other project participants and benefactors. Governor Douglas commended the many people and organizations involved in achieving this success, including Vernon Senior Housing, the Vernon Select Board, Representative O'Donnell, Housing Vermont, the Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust, Chittenden Bank, the Housing and Urban Development Agendy (HUD), Entergy Vermont Yankee and Vernon Town residents who generously supported the effort.
Nancy Owens, of Housing Vermont explained that this project is only the second of its kind in the country and is being treated as a model program for other rural communities like ours. In part, because of the lack of a precedent, the effort to build this facility spanned over 20 years, having been started by Maureen McBrine, Betty Underwood and a number of other hard-working volunteers. The project could not have succeeded without the generous support from the Town of Vernon and persistence of our seniors and other volunteers.
When completed later this year, the two-story, 22,740 -square foot structure will offer 24 new affordable and market rate apartments at the intersection of Huckle Hill Road and Pond Road. “Many people have worked very hard over a number years to get us to this wonderful day,” said Peggy Farabaugh, Advisor to the Vernon Senior Housing Committee. “We are thankful for the tremendous support the community has shown,”” Ms. Farabaugh noted.
Huckle Hill Housing will provide 16 one-bedroom and 8 two-bedroom apartments, including a unit for an on-site manager. Each unit will have a balcony or deck. The facility will offer 7,170 square feet of common space consisting of two offices, reception area, common kitchen, library, laundry, and community room. "Thanks to some very innovative financing, Huckle Hill Housing will be able to serve a broad cross-section of area seniors,” said Housing Vermont Vice President Nancy Ownes. “We appreciate the support of HUD, the Chittenden Bank, and several state agencies,” Ms. Owens said.
Rental assistance through the HUD 202 program will be available for ten households earning less than 50% of the HUD area median income (currently $21,050 for a 1-person household). Another eight units will offer discounted rents to seniors with incomes less than 60% of the HUD area median while the remaining six apartments will have market rate rents.
Huckle Hill Housing is sponsored by Vernon Senior Housing, a nonprofit community group formed specifically to create senior housing. The Brattleboro Area Community Land Trust and Housing Vermont provided development services and secured financing for this $4.7 million housing initiative.
Funding for Huckle Hill Housing is provided through a variety of public and private sources including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Vermont Community Development Program, Town of Vernon, Entergy Vermont Yankee, Efficiency Vermont’s Residential Energy Efficiency Program, and housing tax credits allocated by Vermont Housing Finance Agency. The Chittenden Bank is providing $3,325,000 in equity through the housing tax credits. Russell Construction Services is the general contractor and J. Coleman + Company is the architect.
Local craftsman wins top honors for his wood work
By BOB AUDETTE, Special to the Brattleboro Reformer
Tuesday, November 7, 2007
BRATTLEBORO -- Local craftsmen are celebrating the recognition of a local woodworker as one of the best furniture makers in the nation. At this year's Fine Furnishings Show in Providence, R.I., Kenyan native and Brattleboro resident Daniel Omondi Odhuno received a best in show award in the "traditional" category for an individual piece, a sofa table.
Using hand tools such as chisels and gougers, Omondi carved his table from Central American mahogany, decorating it with traditional East African floral and geometric designs.
"You have to follow the grains," said Omondi, adding he spent a solid month of work cutting, planing, sanding and carving the wood.
When Omondi is not carving ornate furnishings, he works as a carpenter, landscaper and a varsity soccer coach at Leland & Gray. This was Omondi's second award. Before leaving his native country, he was given a national award for his woodworking. "I have been so lucky this year, with the award and my commissions," he said. "I am very grateful."
Omondi's award is a success for a new collaborative of woodworkers called Vermont Woods Studio. The group, founded by Peggy and Ken Farabaugh, of Vernon, brought together a group of artisans interested in learning from each other. At the same time, Peggy Farabaugh launched the marketing arm for the studio, setting up a Web site and encouraging the woodworkers to produce furnishings from sustainably harvested wood. Tables and other furniture created by the studio's woodworkers are available online. "We are continuing our mission to create a community to work together, collaborate and celebrate each other's successes," she said.
Omondi showed his award-winning table at Rueter Woodworking and Gallery Friday night. Bob Rueter, who opened his gallery on Elliot Street last August, fell into woodworking because he liked to work with his hands. Though he still works with computers, his passion is woodworking, and after attending a three-month artisan course in Maine, he realized he wanted to open a studio. He said Vermont Woods Studio has proved to be an invaluable resource for him. "We are developing a group of woodworkers who meet, discuss and critique each other's pieces," he said. "It's very valuable." Omondi, after reading about Vermont Woods Studio in the newspaper, signed on. With the support of the Farabaughs, Omondi has been able to attend craft fairs and furnishing shows, including the recent event in Providence. Farabaugh said Omondi was one of more than 200 woodworkers showing off more than 1,000 pieces at the show in Rhode Island. She said Omondi's award might bring more attention to Vermont woodworkers. "We hope it will illuminate the efforts of so many talented people,"she said.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for Brattleboro and Vermont, to be able to stand up and say Vermont forest products are great," said Jason Breen, a local woodworker. Ken Farabaugh agreed. "To have someone in this community talented enough to win this award is amazing," he said.
Omondi's woodworking is a family tradition, passed down from his grandfather. His carving style, which is called Bajun, is a unique Swahili art heavily influenced by the cultural and religious traditions of Oman and India. His carvings are similar to those that can be found on furniture, doors and homes along the East African Coast. In 2001, Omondi moved to the United States, setting up his woodshop in a barn in Brattleboro. Currently, Omondi is fashioning a contemporary office table on commission. Through Vermont Woods Studio, Farabaugh has added techniques to his own woodworking repertoire by observing craftsmen like Omondi work.
New Web Site Sees Light Through the Trees
Some of the most successful applications of Internet technology continue to be those that harness its ability to link people with common interests, such as Craigslist.org and eBay.com. This is also the idea behind Vermontwoods.com, which brings together Vermont woodworkers, many of whom work in solitude in their own studios, and the consumers interested in handcrafted furniture made from sustainable harvested wood. read more
Local Furniture Makers Visit Panama in Search of Sustainably-Harvested Exotic Woods
[Vernon, VT] - Why on earth would a Vermont furniture maker need to travel to Panama in search of sustainably-harvested wood? “We’ve gained an appreciation for the rainforest through our passion for our own Green Mountain Forest and the conservation efforts we’ve learned about and participated in up here”, said co-owner, Peggy Farabaugh. Despite the obvious differences between the two types of forests, Farabaugh says they share common issues such as balancing the competing needs of humans versus wildlife, and preserving the natural characteristics of the forest to encourage future health and availability of sustainably-harvested products.
“In furniture-making, we love to accent our Vermont maple with richly colored exotics, like mahogany and purpleheart. We must be careful, however to vet our suppliers and ensure their wood is sustainably harvested”. Vermont Woods Studios does this through their certification with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to good forest management world-wide. “We wanted to see for ourselves the difference the FSC is making in the rainforest and try to establish some linkages between our company and forest products companies in Central America that share our values and concerns for the future of the rainforest”.
Ancient Maple Takes on New Role as Locally Handcrafted Furniture
Brattleboro, March 21, 2006
An ancient maple tree, perhaps 100-150 years old or older was finally taken down from the site of the Vermont Agricultural Business Education Center in Brattleboro because it is very brittle and a danger to passersby. The tree was planted on the Lawrence Farm, one of Vermont’s first dairy farms that dates back to the 1860s and has provided much enjoyment and respite for animals and humans alike.
A team of people interested in honoring the tree’s history, longevity and service came together to preserve the tree in the form of fine furniture. The team included:
- Joe Famolare of Famolare Inc, current owner of the tree and property
- Rick Ethier, Brattleboro Department of Public works
- Chuck Mayotte of Mayott’s Tree Service
- Vincent Johnson of Johnson Custom Milling
- Ken and Peggy Farabaugh of Vermont Woods Studios
- Bruce Cabana, a local craftsperson who will be building fine furniture with the lumber
"Joe (Famloare) had asked us to build a podium for the VABEC videoconferencing lab," said Peggy Farabaugh of Vermont Woods Studios. "He wanted to build a lasting tribute to the tree--one that will last at least as long as the tree's life, or about 150 years. We decided to start with a podium and will probably build additional pieces after that.
Turning the tables: Vernon couple seeks passionate wood crafters
By BOB AUDETTE, Special to the Brattleboro Reformer
Thursday, March 9, 2006
A handful of local woodworkers has banded together to build handmade furnishings in their home shops to be marketed online and through artisan galleries.
"We found a lot of talented people with shops in their homes who had no way to market their craft," said Peggy Farabaugh, who with her husband Ken, has started Vermont Woods Studio out of their home in Vernon.
The Farabaughs stepped in with a business plan to "design, create, market and sell heirloom-quality furniture, handcrafted of sustainably-harvested solid hardwoods." The Farabaughs hope to establish a network of self-employed and under-employed craftspeople who are under contract with Vermont Woods Studios to build furniture in their own workshops.
Farabaugh said she is looking for craftspeople who have "a passion for furniture, the craft and the environment."
"You have to have a passion for wood," added Ken Farabaugh, who admitted his wife once had to pull him up off a neighbor's floor where he had gotten down on his hands and knees to study the grain of the wood. "We plan to help them build a resume so there is more value in their work," through showing their work at local galleries and regional events, said Farabaugh, who added she would like to build a network where artisans can share ideas and discuss techniques.
Farabaugh said she also intends to help aspiring woodworkers pursue small grants to finance their ventures. Farabaugh said 95 percent of the sales will be via the Internet and their first year goal will be to create and sell 100 tables. Vermont Woods will provide the rough product for the artisans to create their furniture.
Farabaugh said long-term plans for Vermont Woods Studios include creating items other than tables and establishing a warehouse facility in Brattleboro within the next three years."Tables are a good thing to start with because they are more straight-forward to build and easy to ship," said Farabaugh. "As we grow, we'll add different items."
Including Ken, there are seven craftspeople who have signed up for Farabaugh's services, which she said focuses on marketing the products. "I've been picking up tools for the last couple of years and saw this opportunity, so I jumped for it," said Bruce Cabana, who said he has been making end tables from maple and cherry wood. Cabana, who said he worked part time as a yard and handyman during the summer, said he was looking for something to supplement his income.
I'll be working out of my own garage," said Cabana. "They give me a few details as to what they want, but I get to be somewhat creative." "This is right up my alley," said Jake Buffoli, who moved to Vermont after a career of building homes around Cape Cod.
"Their idea is real good," said Buffoli, of South Halifax. "I'm feeling pretty positive about it." Peter Vogel, who raises llamas with his wife Virginia in Halifax, used to build log cabins and timber-framed structures. Over the years he accumulated the tools necessary to make furniture and discovered he had a flair for it."Vermont Woods Studios is giving me an opportunity to create, design and build furniture," said Vogel.
So many artists, all they lack is marketing," said Virginia Vogel.
All they need is a sales venue," added Farabaugh.Chad Woodruff, of Vernon, already sells his wares on eBay, but he said it doesn't provide enough income for him to do it full time."I've been looking for other ways to sell," said Woodruff.
Farabaugh described the studio's customers as the "new luxury consumer," who are willing to spend a disproportionate amount of their income on furnishings and other items. She said she also wants to appeal to the "green market," consumers who make their purchases based on a manufacturer's environmental ethos.
Farabaugh said their wood suppliers, from around the world, are certified to supply sustainable products, though she has yet to find a certified supplier of sustainable woods from Vermont. The Farabaughs will be going to Panama to find a source of wood there.
She said all products sold through Vermont Woods Studios have lifetime guaranties so they are meticulous about the creation of each item. The prices reflect the exacting standards, running from $400 into the thousands of dollars.
Bob Audette can be reached at email@example.com, or at (802) 254-2311 ext. 277.
National Home Furnishings Associations, Nation's largest home furnishings retailers magazine
Brace yourself, furniture retailer because the " green shopper" has arrived and she is going to make your life a whole lot complicated beause she comes in several different shades of green. read more
LoveToKnow, online media company featured an article on Vermont Woods Studios
Vermont Woods Studios offers an eco-friendly take on beautiful furniture styles. There are several lines to choose from, so there should be something for almost any decorating style. LoveToKnow spoke with Peggy, co-owner of the company, to find out more. read more
Vermont Woods Studios was featured by experts in furniture industry in About.com
Vermont Woods Studios is a small group of gifted and passionate wood crafters who share a love for the beauty of handmade, quality wood furniture.read more
Luxist.com, a web site which covers luxury items and fine living topics, featured products from Vermont Woods Studios
For Vermont Woods Studios buying a luxury piece of furniture isn't just a purchase, it's an experience. read more
I've written about Vermont Woods Studios before but I had to show you these adorable chairs designed by Steve Holman, read more
Interiordesign.net, a magazine for the interior design professional marketplace featured us in their blog
Faithful readers may have noticed that I'm attracted to smallish craftspeople and entrepreneurs that are doing good green things. read more
Premierdesigners.com, a luxury lifestyle magazine featured Vermont Woods Studios
Because good quality sustainable materials, craftsmanship and design have been cherished and passed on for generations in Vermont. read more
The New York Times, featured us in their Home & Garden section
A selection of Vermont Woods Studio’s handcrafted furniture made from ecologically sustainable hardwoods is 40 percent off while supplies last. read more
JustLuxe, a luxury Web publication providing objective analysis and information to affluent consumers featured Vermont Woods Studios.
Vermont Woods Studios, is a community of sustainable furniture makers spread out across Vermont dedicated to fine craftsmanship. read more
Ideal Living, a green lifestyle magazine featured our products.
Vermont Woods Studios, is a community of sustainable furniture makers spread out across Vermont dedicated to fine craftsmanship. read more
Ocean Home, featured custom made Nautilus End Table by Vermont Woods Studios Artisans, Summer 2007
Green is in.. especially when it comes to handmade furnishings from Vermont Woods Studios. read more
The Robb Report Collection, Featured an article about Vermont Woods Studios Artisan Daniel Omondi
Daniel Omondi, who learned his woodworking skills in his father's workshop as a child read more