Top 4 Reasons Why a Vermont Furniture Store Wants to Save the Monarchs

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 01:47 pm

El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve
This is the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve I’ll be visiting next week.  It’s a World Heritage Site that provides over-wintering for almost the entire gene pool of the monarch butterfly.  It is under assault by illegal loggers.  Photo courtesy of El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve.

At 7am on Sunday morning I’ll be boarding a flight to Morelia, Mexico. Woohoo! The trip evolved out of my obsession with forest conservation and the Monarch Butterfly. If you’re a frequent flyer on this blog, you’ve probably noticed we love environmental projects like this.

The other day, Megan (our ace Marketing Maven) suggested I try to boil down some of my previous blogs and summarize why a Vermont furniture store would want to help save the Monarch Butterfly.  So here goes… the Top 4 reasons are:

The Environment Is Important To Us

It’s not just me.  At Vermont Woods Studios we are a community of nature lovers, idealists, world travelers and outdoor enthusiasts.  Most of us grew up in rural places and have had much interaction with butterflies, birds and other critters throughout our lives.  Monarchs are such a big, beautiful butterfly!  They were everywhere in Vermont.  It used to be practically a right of passage for kids to collect them and watch their metamorphosis every August.  Now they are extremely rare and we worry about that.

The Environment Is Important To Our Customers

Our customers have many options as to where they buy their furniture.  Often times they tell us that when it comes to the final decision, with all else being equal, they are looking for an environmentally responsible company.  We are trying to live up to that.

We Want to Change the World

A Vermont Furniture Store's Green Team
Margaret Mead said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Getting a paycheck is not enough for all the hard work that goes into making this Vermont furniture store a success.  We want to feel like our efforts matter.  Like there’s a purpose behind our work.

Planting milkweed in Vernon, Vermont | Restoring Monarch butterfly habitat
Milkweed.  We’ve been restoring Monarch habitat in Vermont.  But what difference will that make if the butterflies lose their over-wintering habitat in Mexico?

Changing the world is a little hard to get our arms around though.  But we can change a little part of it:  like restoring habitat for the Monarchs.  And that’s totally possible because in Vermont, Monarch habitat is primarily one plant, milkweed.  It’s easy… we collect milkweed seeds in the Fall and plant them in the Spring.  This year we’re hoping to have a sizable plot of milkweed habitat in the backyard here at Stonehurst.

We Believe Business Has a Responsibility to Make the World a Better Place

With our business behind us (founded on the mission of forest conservation) we don’t have to stop at planting milkweed in Vermont.  We can extend our conservation efforts.  We know that Monarchs don’t spend their winters here– they migrate to Mexico and roost in evergreen (oyamel) trees in the mountains of Michoacan.  Those oyamel trees are being illegally logged and the Monarch’s habitat is disappearing.

What difference does it make if we restore their habitat here in Vermont?  The species will still go extinct if they lose their winter habitat.  So that brings me back to my trip to Mexico. I’ll be working with Jose Luis Alvarez of the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program to help conserve existing forest habitat and replant what’s been destroyed.  You can find details here in last week’s blog.  By the way, there’s still time to join me on this adventure!

Monarchs

I’d love to hear what you think about butterflies, business and changing the world.  Please comment on Facebook or in the section below.  Thanks for reading.

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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.

You, Me & 100 Million Monarch Butterflies

Last updated on May 4th, 2018 at 10:05 am

Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico
Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan, Mexico.  2016 tours are still available through Spirit of Butterflies Tours in coordination with Forests for Monarchs founder Jose Luis Alvarez.  Photo courtesy of Homero Gomez Gonzalez.

One of Earth’s Greatest Natural Wonders

Right now at this very moment, one of earth’s most amazing natural wonders is taking place in Mexico.  Nearly 100 million monarch butterflies from all over the USA and Canada have migrated south to the mountains of Central Mexico where they are over-wintering prior to their return flight this Spring.  We’ve described the Monarch migration in previous blogs– it’s the most complex migration pattern of any known species on earth.

A Monarch butterfly we reared in Vermont
A Monarch butterfly we reared at Stonehurst, here in Vermont.  She could well be one of those in the photo above after making a 3000 mile migration from VT to Mexico last Fall.

Monarch Butterflies Are on the Brink of Extinction

Over the past 20 years the monarch population has declined by 90 percent.  During the winter of 1996-1997, scientists estimated there were a billion monarchs over-wintering in Mexico.  An estimate from last year found only about 35 million, a number so low that several environmental organizations are petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify monarch butterflies as “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Reforestation of Monarch Habitat by LCHPP
Reforestation of the Monarch Habitat  in Michoacan, Mexico is being led by Jose Luis Alvarez of the La Cruz Habitat Protection program LCHPP (aka Forests for Monarchs).  I’m heading to Mexico in late February to work with Jose Luis.  You should join us!

You Can Help Save Them

Love nature?  Here are a couple ways you can help save the amazing Monarch butterfly from extinction:

Help Restore Monarch Habitat in the USA and Canada

Monarchs need milkweed and nectar plants to survive and thrive during the summer months they spend in the US and Southern Canada.  We’ve written many blogs about how to plant milkweed and we even have milkweed seeds we’ll be happy to send you if you’d like to get involved.

Help Restore Monarch Habitat in Mexico

At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve allied with the La Cruz Habitat Protection Program LCHPP in an effort to Plant a Million Trees every year in the Monarch’s overwintering area in Michoacan, Mexico.  I’ll be writing more about LCHPP, a leading organization in the race to save the Monarch, but for a glimpse of their work check out this video.

Join us on the Spirit of Butterflies tour Feb-March 2016
Join us on the Spirit of Butterflies tour Feb-March 2016. Photo courtesy of Homero Gomez Gonzalez.

Spirit of Butterflies Tour

For the adventurous nature lover, here’s another way to help save the Monarchs.  Contact Maraleen Manos-Jones who works with LCHPP and sign up for the trip of a lifetime: a tour of the Monarch butterflies over-wintering forest habitat in Michoacan, Mexico.  Leading the tour will be Jose Luis Alvarez, co-founder of LCHPP and renowned expert on Monarchs and reforestation of their habitat. I’m taking the tour at the end of February… why don’t you join me?  I’ll provide details in my next blog but in the meantime, you can check out what other travelers have said about visiting monarch over-wintering sites on TripAdvisor.

I took this photo 15 years ago when we were rearing wild monarchs in Vermont.
I took the photo of Kendall 15 years ago when we were rearing wild monarchs in Vermont.  Now there are none to be found.  Check out the link to National Geographic’s film about the monarch story.

Why Does A Furniture Company Care?

Vermont Woods Studios was founded on a mission of forest conservation.  From the beginning we set out not only to provide our customers with the best value & quality for Vermont made wood furniture but also to conserve the forests that provide wood for furniture.  That mission of forest conservation coupled with my history of studying Monarchs with Kendall and Riley when they were little, made this project with LCHPP and Spirit of Butterflies a perfect fit.  I hope you’ll join us as we work to help bring this iconic species back and conserve them for future generations.

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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 On a Mission

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 02:37 pm

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

vermont-food-bank
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

wags-riches
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!

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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.

Merry Christmas!

Last updated on August 16th, 2018 at 11:23 am

From all our families at Vermont Woods Studios to you and your family, we send our warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season.  Here are a few pics of what Christmas looks like at Stonehurst in Vernon, Vermont.  My thanks to the eternally patient and tolerant staff members who humor me along when I get my pesky iphone out and start snapping…

Made in America Christmas Secret Santa gift exchange.
Loryn, Ken and Michelle at our annual Made in America Christmas Secret Santa gift exchange.
Christmas gifts starting piling up as staff brought in gifts for local families in need
Christmas gifts starting piling up as staff brought in gifts for local families in need
Our annual Made in America Secret Santa gift exchange
Tristan, Nina and Megan showing off their Secret Santa gifts
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…
Our annual Made in America Secret Santa gift exchange
Rebecca, Mike, Sean and Kyle – always good sports around my camera 🙂
Our annual Made in America Secret Santa gift exchange
Riley, Dennis and Martin raising a toast to 2015…
Giving-Tree-Drop-Off
Megan delivering gifts from our staff members to the town of Vernon’s Giving Tree.

Please send us your holiday photos or post them on our Facebook.  Merry Christmas!

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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.

Team of Percherons Pulls into the Farm at Stonehurst

A pen and ink drawing of the O'Neil Family Farm's Percheron draft horses, Maude and Tony by Iowa artist William A Webber.
Stonehurst‘s newest piece of art:  a pen & ink drawing of 2 draft horses by Iowa artist, William A Weber.   My Dad loved this picture and Mom was kind enough to pass it down to me last weekend when I visited her in Plattsburgh.

A Boy & His Dream

This is the story of a boyhood dream.  It begins in 1937, during the “recession within the Great Depression”.  The first child of a hard-working young Irish couple from Johnson City, NY is sent to spend the summer on his grandparents’ farm in Dushore, PA.

The lad is tasked with feeding the chickens, weeding the garden and sweeping the dirt floors. But his favorite chore is helping plow the fields with a team of black Percheron draft horses name Maude and Tony.  For many summers, little Bob was delivered to the O’Neil Family Farm the day after school let out in June and returned to his parents in Johnson City on Labor Day weekend, just in time to start the new school year.  Driving and caring for the team of blackies quickly become his passion and thus the dream was born.

Dad and Aunt Joanie riding Tony at the O'Neil Family Farm in Dushore, Pennsylvania
Dad and his sister (Aunt Joanie) riding Tony at the O’Neil Family Farm in Dushore, Pennsylvania.  I have to say this gentle giant looks like he lived a much more strenuous life than the pampered pets who would follow in his footsteps some 60 years later.

“One Day I’ll Have My Horses”

The boy was my dad.  But farming wasn’t in the cards for him and like his parents he wound up raising a family and making a living in a small city.  “You mark my words”, he’d say “one day I’ll have my horses”.  We all laughed.

But, despite the years that passed and the naysayers and the remote odds, his dream never died.  In 1985, Dad flew out to Millersburg Ohio to meet with his dear friend Monroe Miller, a Percheron horse breeder.  He returned home driving a trailer with 2 young geldings, he named Prince and Tony.  The horses were Dad’s pride and joy. Although their plowing chores were few, Prince and Tony were often pressed into service giving hay rides and sleigh rides to local children.  They lived an honorable life.

Dad's Percherons pulling a sleigh at Christmastime in 1993. Plattsburgh, NY.
Dad and his Percherons, Prince & Tony, pulling a sleigh at Christmastime in 1993. It was a holiday tradition that our family cherished for many years. Plattsburgh, NY.

Driving the Team Back to a Farm: Stonehurst!

Last weekend when I went to Plattsburgh to visit my mother I saw this familiar drawing of the 2 Percherons that Dad had purchased from Iowa artist William A Weber.  I asked if I could relocate the boys to Stonehurst, which had been a working farm on and off for over 200 years.  It would be a fitting place for the horses to retire as Stonehurst in the 1930s would have been quite similar to the O’Neil Farm that Maude & Tony served at that time.  Mother agreed & now the 2 two horses hang on the wall looking out the windows of our showroom to the farmland that houses our sustainable furniture store today.

Come Visit Stonehurst and Meet Prince & Tony

Love horses?  Farms?  History?  Come visit us at Stonehurst!  You can enjoy the 109 acre plot of beautifully managed farm and forest land that’s now home to Prince and Tony.  And if you’re in the market for sustainable, American made furniture or Vermont made home decor, all the better.  See you in the showroom!

 

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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.

Made to Order Furniture: Good Things Take Time

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 at 04:31 pm

Vermont Craftsman
A Vermont Craftsman at work on a furniture piece

In the world of Vermont’s Made to Order Furniture there are many advantages:  your furniture is handcrafted especially for you, you can customize it to fit exactly into your space, you can feel good about the fact that your furniture is made from trees that are harvested sustainably with respect for the forest environment, you’re helping to keep American craftsmanship alive & thriving, providing jobs and much more.  But there is one downside to having furniture built just for you:

It Takes Time

Time to Craft

Depending on who is making your furniture (we work with a dozen or so independent furniture makers), and what they’ve already got in their queue, time to complete building the furniture can vary.

The best way to find out the estimated lead times for our furniture is to check the Lead Time tab on the product’s page. You can read more general information about our lead times on our Shipping & Delivery page.

Time to Ship and Safely Deliver

After the furniture is built, it takes another 1-5 weeks to ship it, depending on where the customer lives.  Fine furniture cannot be FedEx’d (unless maybe it’s an end table or something that’s been designed for quick-ship).  Believe it or not, some of today’s FAST furniture delivery companies have average damage rates of up to 40%!

We’ve learned over the past 10 years of delivering furniture to homes in all 50 states that rushing an order to it’s destination is a gamble.  It might get there safely… then again it might not.  And since our customers are already waiting several weeks for their authentic, made to order furniture, we don’t want to have to call them and say, “sorry your furniture was damaged in transit and we have to re-craft it.  And re-ship it”.

Fortunately our customers understand this and are generally very patient and willing to wait for something that will one day become a family heirloom.

Keeping You Informed

Rebecca, Sean, Michelle and Loryn use a series of emails and phone calls to keep clients in the loop during the crafting and shipping process.  Right after your order, you’ll receive an email acknowledgement asking you to review the order details for accuracy & giving you an estimate of when it will be delivered.  Then when your order is half way through the process, we’ll email you again with an update.  Another communication will arrive when the craftsman has completed your order and we’ve scheduled it for pick-up with our furniture shipping specialist.  Finally when your order is in your area, we’ll connect you directly with our shipper to schedule a convenient time for delivery.  All along the way, you’ll have someone here, that you know by name, to talk to if you have any questions or concerns.  Then after delivery, we’ll email you again to make sure the delivery went well and you’re happy with your new furniture.

Quality, Made to Order Furniture that Lasts a Lifetime

In this world of instant gratification, where most furniture buyers walk into Bob’s Discount Furniture, Ikea or Ashley Furniture and walk out an hour later with something that’s substandard and unsustainably produced overseas by huge multi-national conglomerates, we find ourselves immensely grateful to our customers for their patience in waiting for the real thing.  When buying furniture that’s built to last a lifetime, we hope you’ll feel it’s worth the wait.

Read our previous article on made to order furniture & lead time.

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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.

Vermont Woods Studios Participates in Connecticut River Clean Up

Last updated on August 3rd, 2018 at 11:40 am

VWS volunteered in the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s (CRWC) yearly “Source to Sea” trash cleanup of the Connecticut River. CRWC works to educate, restore and preserve the health of the CT River. The CT River is just a few miles from our Vernon, VT showroom and in only a couple of hours our team collected five full bags of trash! The cleanup has participants collecting trash from as far north as the Canadian border all the way to the mouth of the river in Old Lyme, CT. Great job team and thanks to the CRWC for coordinating the event.

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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.

Shedding Light on Vermont’s Forest Industry

Shedding Light on Vermont Forests
Book cover Illustration by Vermont artist Kathleen Kolb. View additional artwork by Kathleen at http://www.kathleenkolb.com

Sustainable Forestry Exhibit Lights Up BMAC

The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center BMAC is currently hosting an innovative new exhibit, showcasing the beauty and value of Vermont’s sustainable working forest.  Local painter, Kathleen Kolb shares her  view of the Green Mountain state’s forest industry through various works of art she’s been creating over the past couple decades.  Kathleen’s artwork is enhanced by poetry and prose contributed by Guilford artist, Verandah Porche.  Verandah interviewed loggers, and their family members.  The resulting stories are rich with emotion expressing the bond these Vermonters have with the forest.

BMAC Schedule of Events

The forestry exhibit started October 2, 2015 and it will run until January 3, 2016.  This Thursday the museum (October 22, Thursday, 7 p.m) is hosting a panel discussion: Turning Local Wood Into Local Good.  I will be joining other representatives of forestry-related businesses in Vermont to discuss the importance of sustainable forests products to Vermont’s economy.   Please stop by and join us for a lively discussion!

 

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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.

What’s New in the Woods?

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 at 02:24 pm

A Quick Look at our Facebook, Pinterest, Blog and Twitter

What's New at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture?

Check out the cool “What’s New” page that Martin put together for us– well, for you actually.  He and Neville have been working on it for awhile and just launched it this week.

The page pulls news from all of our social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the Blog so we can present them to you all on one page.

It’s a quick way to catch up on all the latest happenings at Stonehurst: sales, coupons, customer reviews, new products, Vermont scenery, you name it.  Have a look and let us know what you think in the comments section below or on Facebook.

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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.

A Stoddard Family Reunion at Pine Top

Pine Top Hosts Stoddard Reunion
Jim and Betsy Stoddard are on the left. Don and Barbara Stoddard are in the middle and that’s Vernon’s beloved Town Historian, Barbara Moseley on the bottom right.

Pine Top, the lost ski area that’s now home to our Vermont furniture showroom, holds many memories for families that skied and stayed here during the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  We’ve been corresponding with the Stoddard family for a couple years now.  Don and his brothers Jim and Sandy have shared many of their happy memories with us and we’ve been hoping one day they would drop by for a visit.

The Stoddards, Barbara Moseley and me at Pine Top, October 2015
From right: Don Stoddard, Barbara Moseley, Jim Stoddard and me.

This week they did!  I was able to catch up with Barbara Moseley, Vernon’s Town Historian and invite her to join us.  Barbara worked at Pine Top when she was going to college.  She remembered the Stoddards fondly and was excited to get together and reminisce with them.

Map of Pine Top, created by Barbara Moseley
Here’s the Pine Top map Barbara created. This photo was taken earlier when Sigrid and Bill Wares of Moorestown, New Jersey stopped by to share their Pine Top memories.

We had a wonderful time chatting over apple cider and donuts & strolling along between Toby slope and Pelley Run.  Barbara brought over copies of the Pine Top map she recently created (from memory) and the Stoddards each took one home to enjoy.

If you have your own memories of Pine Top, stop by Vermont Woods Studios anytime and take a trip down memory lane.  It’s good for the soul.

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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.