Building Monarch Butterfly Way Stations in Vermont

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Monarch Butterfly Waystations in Vernon, Vermont
We had a great turnout for our Monarch party on Monday.  If you’re creating your own Monarch Waystation, you can register it and get an “official sign” at MonarchWatch.org

We’re sending thanks out to everyone who gathered with us at Stonehurst this week to begin making Vernon, Vermont a Monarch Butterfly Way Station.  If you’re interested in the environment and nature, please consider joining us in this fun project!  You can learn more about our efforts to save the endangered monarch butterfly here.

Monarch Butterfly Party | Vermont Woods Studios
Thanks to all Vernon’s Monarch Butterfly advocates: MaryLynn Scherlin, Annette Roydon, Marilyn McQuaide, Ken Farabaugh, Janice Pereira, Bronna Zlochiver, Janet Rasmussen, Peggy Farabaugh, Dawn Petrovsky and Emily Vergobbe.

Vernon has many master gardeners and butterfly enthusiasts!  We shared some milkweed seedlings (the Monarch caterpillar’s only food source) and will begin planting them in our gardens and back yards.  We’re also reaching out to the Vernon Elementary School VES, the recreation department and the roads commissioner, asking them to support the project by planting milkweed where appropriate on public land.

How to grow milkweed for monarch butterflies

In August and September we will meet again when the Monarchs are laying their eggs and beginning their metamorphoses.  Please contact us through our Facebook if you’re interested in joining our butterfly rescue project or starting one in your own town.  It’s fun, and there’s wine.  What more could you ask for?

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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.

POLYWOOD® Club Furniture For Relaxing: Outdoors or In

Last updated on December 4th, 2015 at 02:33 pm

Polywood Deep Seating Patio Furniture
This all weather POLYWOOD Club Furniture is perfect for relaxing in- whether you place it outdoors on the porch or inside in the den or Florida room.  The recycled plastic POLYWOOD frames are made in America and carry a lifetime guarantee along with several other buyer protection policies.

Have you noticed that fine furniture is moving outside to luxury spaces around the patio, deck, fire pit, pool and even the beach?  Why not?  With advances in all weather outdoor furniture and Sunbrella deep seating fabrics, you’ll find high end club furniture like the POLYWOOD Club Deep Seating set shown above in all kinds of luxury spaces–outdoors and in.

If you’re needing some deep relaxation in your life, check out Angelo Surmelis’s designs on HGTV’s Outdoor Spaces Design Guide.  You’ll find inspiration and advice on how to transform your outdoor space into a luxury retreat.  Whether your space is a small patio, expansive beachfront or something in between, Angelo’s got creative ideas to help you achieve your dream decor.  He’ll show you how to use simple designs, colors, textures, accessories and patterns to produce the perfect outdoor space for your needs.

Of course, outdoor furniture selection is critical to achieving your design goals so be sure to have a look at our large selection of all weather POLYWOOD recycled plastic furniture.  You’ll find cushy, deep seating club furniture for serious relaxing– and each piece can be customized in your choice of 6 POLYWOOD colors and 14 different Sunbrella cushion fabrics.  You can feel confident using POLYWOOD on the beach, at the poolside or in your new outdoor kitchen.  And when the season’s over, it’s luxurious enough to bring indoors for an upscale addition to the porch, sunroom or den as well.

Find dozens more all weather POLYWOOD outdoor furniture styles that you can customize in many different colors and fabrics on our website.

 

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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.

Modern Maple Furniture with Walnut Accents

Last updated on February 24th, 2019 at 06:17 pm

Maple and Walnut Wood Furniture | 2 Tone Combinations
This modern 2 tone combination of walnut and maple wood furniture is offered in the SoHo collection.  Copeland’s new SoHo Collection provides many options for customizing the combination of light maple and dark walnut wood tones.

Maple furniture is making a comeback!

For many years, cherry has been our customers’ favorite hardwood but in 2015 we’re seeing that maple wood is giving cherry a run for the money.  This is a welcome trend for those of us in the Vermont forestry community since maple is a hardwood that grows extremely well in the Green Mountain state (indeed maple is the Vermont state tree).  It’s sustainably harvested nearby, making it a great choice for eco-friendly furniture.

Although maple furniture is beautiful on it’s own, many customers are dressing it up with walnut or cherry wood accents.

One example of this design is in Copeland Furniture’s Modern SoHo bedroom furniture collection.  The picture above shows SoHo in maple and walnut wood but it is made to order and can also be customized in all maple wood or a combination of walnut, cherry, and maple.

Maple Furniture with Walnut Wood Accents
This Classic Shaker huntboard was customized in light maple wood with a dark walnut top and walnut drawer pulls.  Thanks to Margot G in Knoxville, TN for sending us her photo!

Nearly all of our furniture at Vermont Woods Studios can be customized in maple wood, regardless of the wood it’s shown in on our website.  This photo was sent to us by Margot G in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Margo created her own unique version of our Classic Shaker Hunt Board by choosing maple wood (rather than cherry) and accenting it with a walnut top and walnut drawer pulls.  It’s beautiful, don’t you think?

Astrid furniture is made in Vermont by Copeland Furniture
Astrid modern bedroom furniture is available in maple wood (as shown) as well as cherry and walnut.  It’s hand made in Vermont by Copeland Furniture.

Another example of modern maple furniture is the Astrid bedroom furniture collection (shown above).  Astrid is dramatic and sophisticated.  It’s been a favorite of contemporary urban dwellers from Manhattan to Los Angeles.

Check out our website for more examples of custom maple wood furniture.  Use the drop-down menus to customize your wood choices online.  If you don’t see exactly what you want, give us a call and we’ll talk about further customization.  It’s more affordable than you might think.

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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.

Hubbardton Forge Lighting – Coming Soon!

Last updated on June 2nd, 2017 at 04:10 pm

Hubbardton Forge | Lighting Fixtures | Modern American Blacksmiths
I love this picture of George Chandler and Reed Hampton, the founders of Hubbardton Forge, Vermont’s 40 year old handcrafted lighting manufacturer.  The two men met serendipitously in Paul Aschenbach’s art class at the University of Vermont.  How funny that George’s last name means candle maker!

Next stop on my tour of Vermont’s luxury home decor providers is lighting manufacturer, Hubbardton Forge. If you’ve had to buy or install lighting fixtures over the last few decades you’re no doubt aware that most lighting is manufactured in Asia these days and the quality isn’t what it used to be.

Enter Hubbardton Forge of Castleton.  The company was established in 1974 by two guys in a barn who set out to revive the forgotten craft of hand-forging raw metal into contemporary designs. Today the business started by George Chandler and Reed Hampton is one of the largest contemporary commercial forges in America. Forty years of practicing time honored principles have built an international reputation for innovative designs, simplicity and integrity.

During my visit to the forge I met with Art Director, Wendy Fannin to show her what we’re doing at Stonehurst and discuss possible strategies to cross-promote our products.  Both companies share a passion for simple elegance, traditional craftsmanship and a commitment to environmental stewardship so it seems some synergy could be achieved.

At Vermont Woods Studios we’re looking forward to receiving our first order of Hubbardton forge chandeliers, floor lamps, sconces and table lamps very soon and I’m eager to see how they transform our space.  They’ll be accompanied by fine furniture from studios all around the state, glassware from Simon Pearce, ceramics from Laura Zindel and hopefully linens from Anichini and furniture/pottery from Shackleton-Thomas.

Keep posted on our latest inventory and/or plan a trip to see everything in person at Stonehurst!

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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.

American Made Outdoor Furniture: What’s The Best Wood?

Last updated on June 30th, 2022 at 02:59 pm

Best Wood for Outdoor Furniture?
I think the best wood to use for outdoor furniture isn’t wood at all. It’s POLYWOOD, made out of recycled milk jugs and guaranteed for a lifetime of outdoor use.  Shown here is the new Bayline Dining Furniture Collection.

Tis the season for buying outdoor furniture and prepare for spring and summer!  Even in Vermont we have a couple nice days each year when everyone wants to lounge in the sun with a cold drink and a good book.

Our customers often discover us when they’re searching for American made, eco-friendly furniture.  We’ve worked in collaboration with Vermont furniture makers for many years but have stuck to selling just sustainable indoor furniture for the dining room, bedroom and home office.

So when customers began to ask for outdoor porch, pool and patio furniture we were at a loss.  What type of wood could we make it out of?  The cherry, maple, walnut and oak woods we typically use for indoor furniture won’t hold up to outdoor conditions.  Plus, we offer a lifetime guarantee on our furniture.  How would we do this for an outdoor line?

Adirondack Chairs | Polywood | Recycled Plastic
This POLYWOOD Classic Adirondack chair is made in America of recycled plastic.  We guarantee it for a lifetime of use!

American Made Outdoor Furniture

We considered many options.  Teak and mahogany are about the only types of wood that would meet our standards for weather resistance and longevity but they are both rainforest woods that are often harvested illegally and unsustainably.  Not an option.

So after researching all the alternatives we selected an American made wood-alternative material for our first outdoor furniture line. It’s called poly wood and it’s made in Indiana of recycled plastic milk jugs.  It’s not real wood, but it has the look, thickness, weight, and feel of real wood plus it’s virtually indestructible and maintenance free.  No more scraping, painting, or weatherproofing needed.  POLYWOOD recycled plastic furniture can even be left outside year round eliminating the need for seasonal storage.

So that’s what we chose for our first outdoor furniture line.  We really do feel that POLYWOOD is the best “wood” to use for outdoor furniture.  With summer being so short up here in Vermont, we want to spend it enjoying our all-weather outdoor furniture rather than maintaining it!  How about you?  Check out the POLYWOOD furniture collections we offer.  It’s eco-friendly, Made in America outdoor furniture and it comes with free shipping and a lifetime guarantee.  Pretty tough to beat, I say.

Rec ycled Plastic Chaise Lounge
This POLYWOOD chaise lounge weighs over 50# so it won’t blow away when high winds come in off the ocean.  It’s available in 12 different colors including red, yellow, blue, orange, green, black and white.

 

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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.

Celebrate World Environment Day with EcoTourism!

Last updated on June 30th, 2022 at 03:00 pm

World Environment Day | Eco Tourism at Serere in the Bolivian Amazon
Protectors of the Amazon | EcoTourism opportunities at the Serere Reserve in Bolivia
Happy World Environment Day! As you know, Vermont Woods Studios is a wood furniture company, founded on the principles of forest conservation and we’re always trying to raise awareness about that cause.

Amazon Rainforest Conservation Project

Recently I traveled to the Bolivian Amazon to support the rainforest conservation work of environmental activist, Rosamaria Ruiz. Her work has been the subject of articles and videos in National Geographic and numerous other conservation magazines. It takes place in the Madidi National Park and at the Serere Reserve, the Most Biodiverse Protected Area on Earth.  Here Rosamaria welcomes scientists, artists, writers, film makers, photographers, students and ecotourism lovers to help with her conservation initiatives.

Conservation Through EcoTourism & Volunteerism

Rosamaria funds her conservation work through ecotourism and also enlists the help of volunteers from all over the world.  I wanted to share this with you in case you or someone you know might be interested in visiting or volunteering at Serere.

 

Serere is a unique biological gem!  It’s relatively small 4000 hectare reserve is home to 7 species of monkeys, tapirs, sloths, jaguars, black caimans, many snake species (including anacondas), hundreds of bird species (including harpy eagles, macaws, herons, eagles, toucans, jabirus, and hoatzin) and a wide variety of fish.

 

Animals are congregating in Serere for the safety Rosamaria and her staff provide.  Outside Serere’s borders this paradise is being eroded by illegal logging, gold mining, cattle ranching, sugar refineries, agriculture and the like.  One of two things is bound to happen at Serere.  Either it will disappear like the surrounding areas or it will be expanded due to the efforts of people like Rosamaria Ruiz and you and me.

Visit Serere and Experience the Rainforest!

I write to you on World Environment Day in hopes that you might share this message with anyone you know who might be looking for an ecotourism or volunteer opportunity in the rainforest.  I believe Rosamaria would welcome the opportunity to speak with scientists, writers, photographers and other professionals interested in supporting her conservation work.  If you have an interest, visit Rosamaria’s website Madidi-Travel.com to learn more!  You can also feel free to contact me via Facebook | Vermont Furniture or email (peggy@VermontWoodsStudios.com) and read more about my trip to Serere are on my blog.

 

Thanks so much for reading this and for your support of our environmental mission at Vermont Woods Studios.

 

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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.

Minimalist Bedrooms Inspired by Spring

Last updated on November 15th, 2017 at 03:11 pm

Vermont made furniture is simple, elegant and well made. Minimalist is the popular term for this trend nation-wide, but in Vermont we’ve always been “minimalist”. Nina captured the style nicely in photos for our sale on hardwood bedroom sets. Here are a couple of her recent shots, inspired by Vermont’s beautiful Spring colors.

Bedroom Sets for Spring | Handmade in Vermont | American Made
This is our Raised Panel Carriage Bed shown as part of the Roz Renfrew Shaker furniture collection. Nina has it all dressed up for Spring in this “minimalist” setting at Vernon’s historic Governor Hunt House.

In case you haven’t visited us yet, our fine furniture showroom is in a restored farmhouse, located on 100 acres of meadows and woodlands in Southeastern Vermont. The view of the Connecticut River is gorgeous and right now it’s full of Spring’s greens and blues that inspire our decor. Like these robin’s eggs…

Blue bird eggs in a nest at Stonehurst | Vermont Fine Furniture Store
Nina, Dennis and Kelsey were out in the back yard of Stonehurst last week, doing annual Spring cleaning chores in the bluebird houses when they took this shot. As a furniture company that depends on sustainably grown wood, we feel connected to our land & it’s inhabitants. They’re always a source of inspiration.

Here’s another of Nina’s Spring-inspired bedroom furniture photos. This one is our Vermont Shaker furniture set dressed in the colors on the other side of that window.

Minimalist Bedroom Sets Inspired by Spring
The Vermont Shaker bed is handmade of all solid hardwood. It’s shown here in cherry wood, but it’s also available in solid maple or walnut wood. Bedroom furniture sets offer great value plus free shipping.

Tree Swallows | Stonehurst Fine Furniture Showroom | Vermont

More of Spring’s inspiration– this time from the tree swallows in our backyard at Stonehurst. It seems they’re getting their own bedroom ready for Spring.

Looking for springtime inspiration for your bedroom? Visit us today! Bring your camera and a pair of binoculars if you’re up for a little birdwatching. Sometimes customers even bring a bottle of wine and a picnic lunch.

Because we’re not your typical furniture store.

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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.

Bolivia’s Monkey Kingdom

Last updated on May 27th, 2018 at 05:46 pm

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.

Conservation through ecotourism. Monkeys everywhere in the Serere Reserve of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest
A troop of about 50 of these yellow squirrel monkeys visited the Casa Grande at Serere on our second day there.  For such small primates, they sure made a lot of noise as they come crashing through the canopy, leaping great distances between branches. They’re amazing to watch.

Serere Reserve:  Most Bio Diverse Place on Earth

My son Riley was volunteering last month at the Serere Reserve, a rainforest conservation project in Bolivia’s Amazon Basin.  Serere is part of the Madidi Mosaic, the largest and most bio-diverse protected area in the world.  Kendall (my other son) and I joined Riley for a week and although our “mission” was to learn about rainforest conservation, I have to say the highlight of our trip was living with Serere’s monkeys.

Spider Monkey with Riley | Volunteering at Serere | Conservation through Ecotourism
The best part of volunteering at Serere?  I think Riley might say it was getting to know the orphaned monkeys, tapirs and capybaras. Serere functions as a sanctuary for rescued wildlife, some of whose mothers have been shot and eaten by illegal loggers.

Monkeys Everywhere

Globally half of all primates face imminent extinction, as they face threats from loggers, hunters and smugglers.  But Serere is different and here monkeys abound. That’s thanks to the efforts of owner/operator of Serere, legendary environmental activist Rosamaria Ruiz.  Clearly, humans aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed her painstaking work in restoring the natural flora and fauna to the reserve.  Monkeys are everywhere!  During our short stay, we saw 5 different species of monkeys in the wild.  We also had the privilege of getting to know the resident spider monkeys.  After losing family members to illegal loggers these monkeys have found a safe sanctuary at Serere.  The area is constantly patrolled to protect wildlife and habitat– an activity that volunteers and guests often participate in.  It’s part of a “conservation through ecotourism” strategy.

Diego caring for an orphaned spider monkey | Conservation through ecotourism
Diego is the hospitality manager at Serere but his duties occasionally include giving a little TLC to orphaned spider monkeys. I’m guessing he never had to do that at the Club Med resorts he’s managed!

Serere’s Monkey Species

Here’s a run down on the types of monkeys we saw at Serere along with a few fun facts I learned on LiveScience:

  • Yellow squirrel monkeys (Saimiri) mate for life. We watched them grooming each other, intertwining their tails, holding hands, cuddling, and kissing.
  • Spider monkeys (Ateles) are named for their long tails and lengthy spidery limbs. They’re amazingly agile and can quickly walk on two legs across a tree branch.
  • Red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) When a troop of howler monkeys yell, they can be heard for up to three miles.  We woke up to their calls every morning. Great alarm clock!
  • Capuchin monkeys (Cebus) use tools. They can smash nuts with rocks, insert branches into crevices to capture ants for food, and use large branches to club snakes.
  • Nocturnal Owl Monkeys (Aotus) spend most of their time foraging and sleeping in the high canopy, above ten meters. They sleep in tree holes or thickets of dense foliage which may be shared with other nocturnal animals like bats.
Conservation through ecotourism at Madidi Travel in the Bolivian Amazon
Madidi Travel has posted many professional videos about their work with monkeys and rainforest conservation including several done in association with National Geographic magazine.

Voluntourism Helps Protect the Monkey Kingdom

Students, have you ever thought of taking a gap year to volunteer in conservation-related work?  Young professionals, maybe you’ve considered spending your vacation “voluntouring”? Families, are you looking to teach your children that they can change the world?  Teachers & guidance counselors, do you have students interested in primates or rainforest conservation? Researchers and primatologists, are you studying one of the monkeys listed above?

If so, consider supporting, visiting and/or volunteering at Madidi Travel’s Serere Reserve.  Here you’ll find a wonderful group of dedicated environmentalists using ecotourism to fund rainforest conservation.  Volunteer and guest programs are tailored to meet your needs and interests.  Check out the Madidi Travel website, follow Madidi on Facebook & Twitter and watch these videos about their work.  Then contact Rosamaria Ruiz to join the many scientists, artists, photographers and film makers from all over the world, who have volunteered their time and talent to conserve the wonders of the Serere rainforest reserve.

Rosa Maria Ruiz | Madidi Travel | Serere | Conservation through Ecotourism
Rosamaria Ruiz of Madidi Travel, owner and operator of the Serere rainforest reserve in the Bolivian Amazon basin.

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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.

Protecting the Amazon Rainforest through EcoTourism

Last updated on October 27th, 2017 at 12:31 pm

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.

Protectors of the Amazon | Madidi Travel | Eco Tourism at Serere
Our tour guide, Severo navigating the waters of the Beni River in the Bolivian Amazon.  Severo is one of a team of dedicated environmentalists who protect and defend the Serere Reserve against illegal loggers and other predators.  Rainforest conservation through eco tourism is their strategy & 100% of their profits go to conservation work and the local community.

Why Does the Amazon Need Protecting?

We talk a lot about rainforest conservation at Vermont Woods Studios and I’m sure many people wonder why we’re so fanatic about it.  Part of the reason for our forest conservation mission is is my love of animals and wildlife.  And part of it is that humanity is destroying a precious resource (that took billions of years to evolve) at a rate that surpasses any previous mass extinction. Consider that:

Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries and another 29 countries have lost > 90% of their forest cover.

Madidi Travel: Protectors of the Amazon

We’ve written before about who’s responsible for destroying the rainforest.  Today I wanted to tell you about people who are dedicating their lives to conserving the rainforest.  Last week Kendall and I visited Riley, who was volunteering for them at Madidi Travel in the Serere Reserve in Bolivia.  Ecotourism supporting conservation is Madidi’s strategy.  They are a team led by the legendary environmental activist, Rosamaria Ruiz (featured in this National Geographic article).

Diego and M Tapir | Rescue Sanctuary at Serere | Maidid Travel
Diego manages many aspects of hospitality at the Serere Reserve.  I imagine this job is rather different from his previous experiences managing Club Med facilities!  Here he and Monsieur Tapir are having a moment.  Madidi Travel uses responsible ecotourism to fund rainforest conservation in the Bolivian Amazon.  The Serere Reserve functions as a sanctuary for rescued wildlife, many of whose mothers have been shot and eaten by illegal loggers.  Kendall, Riley and I had an amazing time getting to know the orphaned tapirs, monkeys, chonchos and capybaras.

After decades of conservation work in the Bolivian Amazon, which resulted in the creation of the Madidi National Park, Ms Ruiz purchased a 4000 hectacre reserve known as Serere.  The land was severely damaged by illegal logging and other unauthorized exploitations but Ms Ruiz and her team have brought it back to life.  It is now one of the most beautiful and biologically diverse places on the planet (as you can see in this Serere video).

Can Eco Tourism Help Save the Rainforest?

With much of the reforestation already in progress, the job of patrolling the rainforest and protecting it’s inhabitants now takes center stage at Serere.  That’s where the strategy of ecotourism comes in.  Guests can join local guides on daily hikes and canoe rides throughout the reserve.  Thus the land is patrolled while visitors enjoy the amazing biodiversity of life in the forest (we saw 5 different species of monkeys in one day).  Learn more about ecotourism supporting rainforest conservation on this Madidi Travel video.

Having lunch with Rosamaria Ruiz and Madidi Travel team members
Having lunch with Rosamaria Ruiz,  Madidi Travel team members and volunteers.  We were in Rurrenabaque, the launch point for Amazon rainforest ecotourism adventures.  Now is the time to go, if you’re thinking of visiting the Amazon.  The US dollar is currently very strong in Bolivia and the need for your support of ecotourism is urgent.

 

 

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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 is a Vermont Furniture Store Doing in the Amazon Rainforest?

Last updated on May 14th, 2015 at 09:09 pm

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.

The Serere Reserve | Madidi | Bolivian Amazon Rainfdorest
The view of the Serere Reserve from Casa Grande, where we shared meals, plans and stories with the amazing people of Madidi Travel who are using eco tourism to fund conservation in the Bolivian Amazon.

The Rainforest & A Vermont Furniture Store

Where is the link?  Well, in the time it takes to read this series of blogs, an area of the Amazon rainforest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed.   Can you believe that?  Much rainforest destruction is done illegally, to feed the US markets for furniture and flooring.  Hmm… Vermont makes wood furniture.  With our 200 year tradition of  using local, sustainably harvested wood, we can provide an excellent alternative to illegal furniture imports.  At Vermont Woods Studios our mission is to raise awareness about the rainforest and persuade consumers to avoid illegal wood products (made from rare tropical woods like mahogany, teak and ipe) in favor of sustainable furniture and flooring made from North American woods (like cherry, maple, oak and walnut).

Massive tree in the Serere Reserve | Madidi | Bolivian Amazon
Riley is on the left, taking a break from his volunteer work to explore the rainforest with me and Severo, our knowledgeable (and entertaining) guide.

Finding A Way To Help

At VWS we’ve supported rainforest conservation since Day 1.  But quite honestly, donating our profits to reforestation NGOs (impressive and legitimate, as they are) operating 5000 miles away was not very satisfying.  We wanted to be more closely involved.  We wanted to see (and be a part of) the progress being made through our contributions.

My last post was about how my son Riley happened to end up volunteering for the legendary conservationist, Rosamaria Ruiz, of Madidi Travel in the Serere Reserve of the Bolivian Amazon Rainforest.  Perfect!  Kendall (my other son) and I went down to see Riley and offer to help Ms Ruiz with her efforts in reforestation and “conservation through eco tourism”.

Yellow Monkeys | Amazon Rainforest | Serere Reserve | Bolivia | Madidi
This troop of Yellow Monkeys crashed through the rainforest right in front of the Casa Grande where we were eating lunch. They seemed as curious and unafraid of us as we were of them.

Many Faces of Rainforest Destruction

After flying over huge expanses of the Amazon and trekking through the Serere Reserve, I realized there are many different rainforest destruction problems and approaches to solving them.  Some areas have simply been clear cut, the worst possible fate.  But “luckily” the Serere Reserve was ravaged by illegal loggers who were just interested in large, high value trees. For example, I did not see a single mahogany tree other than the saplings planted by Madidi Travel.  Cedar was also completely wiped out.  The good news is that, otherwise the Serere Reserve is still intact, extraordinarily beautiful & teaming with wildlife.

Ecotourism | Hanging with Monkeys & Tapirs in the Amazon Rainforest
The little spider monkey next to me is having a word with that 200 pound tapir nosing up to him.  The two are rescues who’ve taken sanctuary at Madidi Travel’s Serere Rainforest Reserve.  In many cases, rescued animals have lost their parents, flocks, herds or other companions to illegal loggers who shoot them for food or sell them as curiosities.

It’s an amazing place, filled with exotic birds, monkeys (we saw troops of howlers, yellow monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins and a nocturnal monkey all in one day) fish and other wildlife.  Serere is one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet– it’s a nature lover’s dream.  Rosamaria says that wildlife is so abundant here because the animals feel safe.

Massive Rainforest Tree | Madidi | Serere
Although illegal loggers cleaned out the huge, high value trees from Madidi Travel’s Serere Reserve, there are still plenty of massive 200 and 300+ year old trees that will amaze you.

Conservation Through Eco Tourism

Last week I learned there’s more to rainforest conservation than planting trees.  In places where the rainforest is still standing, the goal is to protect what’s left and restore what’s been stolen.  Illegal loggers are a constant threat so rigorous patrolling and enforcement are always required.  That takes money.  Rosamaria Ruiz is showing rainforest communities around the world how to raise that money through eco tourism.  Devoted wildlife and nature lovers pay to experience the wonder of the rainforest, thus providing jobs for indigenous people to conserve and defend it.

If you love being up close and personal with nature, check out Madidi Travel and their eco tourism opportunities at the Serere Reserve.  It’s the last little corner of the Garden of Eden.  Get down there soon. The rainforest continues to disappear at an alarming rate.  The clock is ticking.

Amazon Rainforest Trip
On my way to the Bolivian Amazon,  I’m holding the National Geographic article I read 15 years ago, about Rosamaria Ruiz and her rainforest conservation work in Madidi National Park.  It influenced me to create Vermont Woods Studios.  On the right, I’m in the Amazon, helping Ms Ruiz’s team members who are re-planting mahogany trees.  It was a good feeling!

 

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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.