Truly Green Furnishings: Chemical Free, Organic Furniture

Last updated on December 7th, 2019 at 01:16 pm

Furniture is more than just something we sit on, sleep on, and eat on; our furniture becomes a part of our life story. It’s an integral piece of what makes a house a home. But for the chemically sensitive, or for those who are just serious about not bringing harsh chemicals into their homes, finding the right furniture can seem like an impossible task.

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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.

Just Released: New Online Tool Tracks Deforestation in ‘Near Real Time’

Last updated on May 28th, 2019 at 08:30 pm

Deforestation Tracker
“Highlighted in red, the new tool can show the scale of tree cover loss between 2000 and 2012” — via BBC News

Providing solutions to rain forest deforestation is a central part of our mission  at Vermont Woods Studios. We’re inspired to do our part in making illegal logging and mass deforestation a thing of the past, so needless to say, we’re more than excited about this new tool that provides practically real time information on tree loss. Our furniture is never made from rain forest lumber, but we are looking forward to a day when other furniture (and various wood product companies) will join us in the mission for a more sustainable world.

According to BBC News, “Despite greater awareness around of the world of the impacts of deforestation, the scale of forest loss since 2000 has been significant – data from Google and the University of Maryland says the world lost 230 million hectares of trees between 2000 and 2012.”

Staggering Statistics: “Forest campaigners say this is the equivalent of 50 football fields of trees being cut down, every minute of every day over the past 12 years.”

As noted in the BBC article, one of the major problems regarding deforestation is the lack of accurate information. To take on this challenge of obtaining accurate and reliable information, ” the US based World Resources Institute (WRI) has led the development of GFW, using half a billion high resolution images from Nasa’s Landsat programme.”

This program will make it harder for illegal loggers to continue clearcutting without accountability or consequences, as this new technology is “a near-real time monitoring platform that will fundamentally change the way people and businesses manage forests,” said Dr Andrew Steer from WRI…From now on, the bad guys cannot hide and the good guys will be recognized for their stewardship.

Tracking widespread illegal logging across the globe might seem like an impossible task, but “the technology is said to be easy to use and will incorporate information showing protected areas, logging, mining and palm oil concessions and daily forest fire alerts from Nasa.”

The tool will involve a global support system of concerned groups, citizens, and politicians.  So “when tree losses are detected, alerts can be sent out to a network of partners and citizens around the world who can take action.”

So what does this mean for the wood industry, and the consumers who support it?

According to Unilever CEO, Paul Polman, “As we strive to increase the visibility of where the ingredients for our products come from, the launch of Global Forest Watch – a fantastic, innovative tool – will provide the information we urgently need to make the right decisions.”

For more info, check out the original BBC article.

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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.

Investing in the Community: VWS Donates to Windham County Humane Society

Vermont Woods Studios Mission
Loryn, our community outreach coordinator, is passionate about the animals and used to work with WCHS before coming to Vermont Woods Studios. She loves getting out into the community and helping out a good cause; both at work and during her free time.

Supporting good community causes is a big part of our mission, and it’s something that each of us at Vermont Woods Studios is passionate about personally. So it makes sense that we didn’t hesitate to get over to the Windham County Humane Society, even during a snowstorm. If there’s one thing that separates Vermonters from the rest, it’s our ability to completely go on with our day normally in weather conditions that the rest of the country panics about. That, and our dedication to helping out our neighbors, of course!

(For the record, none of us actually knew it would be snowing this much when we ventured out. Safety first!)

Yesterday, Loryn & I visited the humane society to drop off our donations to their Wags to Riches auction and fundraiser–and to pick up our tickets for the event! I even got a new dog tag, for my darling Chihuahua, Pappy!

The WCHS team was super appreciative of our donation, and emphasized how much community support matters to them. Without the kind support of businesses and community members, WCHS wouldn’t be able to work as hard and help as many animals as they do. The Windham County Humane Society “is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of animals and enhancing the relationship between individuals and pets through adoption, education, advocacy, compassion and promotion of animal welfare.” They  help “stray, abandoned, neglected and surrendered pets by giving them a second chance at a healthy, happy life.”

We’re happy to support them, and are even more excited to attend the amazing Wags to Riches auction on March 1st. Loryn will be writing a blog about it when the date gets closer, so stay tuned!

If you’d like to contribute to WCHS, read more about ways to help out on their website!

 

| This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, a 200 year old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains. |

 

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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.

Official Report on Economic Value of Vermont Forestry Industry

Last updated on August 22nd, 2018 at 04:58 pm

“Report on Economic Value of Vermont’s Forestry Industry Released.”

Vermont Woodlands
View of woodlands near Hogback Mountain, Vt. (Public domain image, retrieved from the Addison Eagle)

The Addison Eagle recently covered the official report on the Economic Value of Vermont’s Forestry Industry. The article highlighted the importance of this industry to Vermont’s economy, and proved to us that the work we are doing is really benefiting our community. This report confirms that approximately 80% of Vermont’s forests are owned by real families and real people, so when you buy Vermont wood products and Vermont furniture, you are helping to put a meal on these people’s tables and helping their kids go through school. Buying furniture from Vermont contributes to the 21,000 jobs that are impacted by the Vermont forestry industry– it puts American’s back to work, and helps keep us on the map as leaders in wood manufacturing. With recent disappointing news about the prospects of the American Made Furniture industry, this report gives us real proof that what we (and you as our friends and customers) are doing is really working.

“Rutland — The NEFA, the North East State Foresters Association and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation have released a report detailing the economic Importance of Vermont’s forest-based economy. The report highlights the various sectors of Vermont’s economy that depend on wood, forests, and trees.

The total economic value of Vermont’s forest economy is pegged at over $3.4 billion dollars for 2012.

“Forest-based manufacturing and forest-related recreation and tourism are significant drivers for our economy,” said Vermont State Forester Steven Sinclair. Sinclair lists some products and services we enjoy: firewood, lumber, fine furniture, maple syrup and Christmas trees are chief among the products. Forests also yield “ecosystem services” such as providing clean water, carbon storage, and wildlife habitat. Vermont’s forests are the vital backdrop to recreation and tourism here.

The NEFA report shows that nearly 21,000 jobs in all sectors are directly impacted by Vermont’s forests. While manufacturing jobs in Vermont’s wood products businesses have declined over the past decade, the harvest of timber from Vermont has stayed relatively stable.

Sinclair told news reporters that most of Vermont’s wood is coming from family forests.

“About 80 percent of Vermont’s forested lands are owned by individuals and families. So, when you buy Vermont wood, you really are buying local. The NEFA report supports the Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Initiative to stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest product sectors,” he said.”

| 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. |

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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.

The Mystery of the Big Tree Elf

Last updated on September 8th, 2020 at 09:12 pm

Vermont Tree Society | Conserving Champion Trees in the Green Mountain State
 In doing some research, trying to figure out where this anonymous gift came from, I discovered a couple articles about Loona Brogan.  Loona’s a naturalist in Plainfield, responsible for starting the Vermont Big Tree Society.

Who put this Vermont Big Tree Society 2004 calendar on my desk over the weekend? What a pleasant surprise to see while un-bundling (that’s winter outerwear not cable TV or software programs) on this icy cold Monday morning.  Whoever the Big Tree Elf is, he or she left the calendar open to the August 2004 month where a beautiful photo of our Stonehurst champion Sassafras tree was featured in all it’s glory.

Well we happen to think it’s glorious, anyway.  To others it might look a little nerdy and decrepit but it’s still a beloved old tree and the largest of it’s species in all of Vermont.  I learned from the calendar that the Sassafras is an intolerant (of shade) tree which is common as a pioneer (a hardy species that’s the first to colonize previously disrupted or damaged ecosystems, beginning a chain of ecological succession that ultimately leads to a more biodiverse steady-state ecosystem, ref: wikipedia).    It’s one of only a few tree species whose leaves come in 3 different shapes.  Plus it’s fragrant and the roots can be used to make sassafras tea!

Sassafras Tree | Vernon Vermont | Big Tree Champion
Last summer, our Windham County Forester Bill Guenther led the 20th Annual Big Tree Tour and stopped by to show his group of treehuggers our sassafras at Stonehurst.

Are you surprised to see how much Vermonters love their trees?  As furniture makers, working with sustainably harvested wood we are especially interested in Vermont’s big trees and the issue of sustainable forestry throughout the Green Mountain State (and beyond).  Vermont Woods Studios was founded on the principles of forest conservation.  Last year we received a $100,000 grant from the states Working Lands Initiative to further our efforts in promoting sustainable forests and the eco-friendly Vermont made furniture produced from them.

Fellow treehuggers– stop by Stonehurst to see Vermont’s biggest sassafras tree.  Then come in and enjoy a cup of tea or hot cider as you browse through the gallery of fine furniture that Vermonter’s are making out of sustainably harvested New England wood.

And whoever the Big Tree elf is, I am sending a million thanks out to you.  Please reveal your identity on our Facebook!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, a 200 year old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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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.

All I Ever Wanted Was To Be Marlin Perkins

Last updated on November 10th, 2017 at 02:27 pm

Marlin Perkins, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom
Marlin Perkins, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom

If you’re under 50 you probably don’t know who Marlin Perkins was.  When I was a kid, my whole family would sit in front of the TV on Sunday nights and watch Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom*.  Marlin Perkins was the host— kind of a 1960s version of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter.

Marlin was always venturing into exotic places like the African savannah or the Amazon rainforest, filming wild animals in their natural habitats.  Orangutans, gorillas, kangaroos, pythons, lions, tigers, bears… the whole shebang. He would be holding a chimp and talking about conservation and… oh how I wanted to be him!  Cuddling up with a tiger cub, rescuing a couple orphaned bear cubs — what could be better?

Although I didn’t end up majoring in zoology or doing research for Jane Goodall, my passion for wildlife conservation has stayed with me.  Like most people I went for a “more practical career” and decided to pursue my passion as a hobby.  I visited zoos and natural history museums whenever I could.  I studied wildlife news in National Geographic, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club and other green publications. I poured my support into wildlife conservation non-profits.

But the real fun didn’t start along until Kendall and Riley came along.  How convenient?  It seems little boys love wildlife!  We camped out in local beaver ponds and vernal pools getting to know the resident turtles, frogs, salamanders, snakes and such.  We made trips to the rainforest, adopted snakes and started a non-profit called Kids Saving the Planet.  Our adventures in Vermont’s forests and in the Central American rainforests eventually led to the creation of Vermont Woods Studios Sustainable Furniture.   More about that in my next post.

 

* and the Wonderful World of Disney and Ed Sullivan Show, of course

The Vermont Furniture 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, a 200 year old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

 

 

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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.

My Boss is a Cat

Last updated on May 4th, 2018 at 02:09 pm

My Boss is a Cat
She’s fat, bossy and demanding but when it comes to tough decisions –nobody puts Pepper in a corner.   Article originally posted on medium.com

Editors note: OK, this is really me (Peggy) but I found this old photo of our Marketing Manager Dennis Shanoff and it got me wondering how we ever survived the early days of start-up.

Eight years ago I started this online furniture store. I had no experience with ecommerce— or any sort of business for that matter. I am a chemist by education and a teacher by trade. I had recently lost my job, I was approaching my 50th birthday and I decided my next career was going to be my last. Thirty years after graduating from high school I would finally take the advice my guidance counselor offered: “follow your passion”.

Fast forward a few years after (a slow) start-up. I’ve just hired a “Marketing Manager”, Dennis Shanoff. It’s his first day on the job. I’m imagining this conversation he’s texting to his wife:

Dennis Shanoff: My boss is a cat

Susan: huh?

Dennis: sends selfie (above)

Susan: lol

Dennis: I’m sitting at a desk in this lady’s spare bedroom trying to figure out how I’m going to build a furniture brand around her passion

Susan: which is?

Dennis: saving the rainforest

Susan: from Vermont?

Dennis: most furniture is made from rainforest woods. Peggy’s trying to raise awareness about that and promote sustainable Vermont made furniture instead

Susan: OK so it’s a stretch. Don’t panic

Susan: Yet

Luckily Dennis didn’t panic. Four years after what must have been an unnerving first day at work, Dennis Shanoff has helped transform a fledgling start-up that no one believed would ever get off the ground, into a small business with a reasonable chance of long-term survival.

I don’t think our story is that atypical for small businesses in Vermont or throughout America for that matter. It’s full of hopes and dreams and absurdity. Luck, misfortune and determination. But more than anything it’s a story of how a small group of disparate entrepreneurs managed to leverage their differences in an effort to change the world.

My friend Annette thinks I should start reflecting on this unorthodox journey with Vermont Woods Studios and share my memories here and on Medium.com. Maybe others with a passion to make the world a better place will find or offer encouragement. Think?  Let me know (on Facebook or in the comments section below) if you’d be interested to read more start-up stories about Dennis, Douglas, Ken and the gang.

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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 VWS Table Finds a Home in Middlebury College’s Solar House

Last updated on August 15th, 2018 at 02:55 pm

We would like to congratulate the Middlebury College Solar Decathlon team for their hard work and progress on their solar home! The team are currently in Irvine, California constructing InSite for the competition! We applaud the team for their efforts and dedication to creating an unforgettable eco-friendly home, and their passion for helping showcase Vermont business throughout its design!

This is our 3rd year supporting the Middlebury Team in their Energy Solar Decathalon efforts!

Eleanor Krause from the Middlebury Team expressed her excitement about bringing the home and its Vermont made contents, to a global stage. She hopes that “the heart and quality of our local Vermont products really shines through, and will hopefully inspire all who visit to think more about supporting local and sustainable business.”

Below you will find several beautiful photos of the table in the solar home. Good luck team!

For more information on the competition or the Middlebury Team, check out their Facebook, or the Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 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.

Forest to Furniture: Local Wood = Local Good

Last updated on March 13th, 2019 at 05:40 pm

Our friend Kathleen Wanner of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association VWMA is fond of the saying, “local wood = local good”.  It captures Vermont’s passion for supporting small, local businesses that emphasize sustainable use of the working landscape: our forests and fields.

Consider for a minute, your impact on local economies when you buy American made furniture versus imported furniture (most furniture in America is imported from Asia).  If, for example you buy Vermont made wood furniture,  you are supporting the local land owner who grew the trees, the forester who manages the land for sustainability, the logger who falls the trees, the sawyer who slices and dices the wood, perhaps a wholesaler (and/or retailer) who inventory the wood, the furniture maker who builds your furniture and (unless you buy directly from the furniture maker) the retail store that sells you the new bedroom set.  That’s why we say “local wood = local good”.

Here’s a typical Forest to Furniture scenario that happens routinely all over Vermont:

A local logging company or tree service harvests the trees.

Chuck Mayotte from Mayotte’s tree service in Guilford looks to find the highest and best use for the trees he removes.  Sometimes trees will be used for firewood, but when Chuck comes across high quality logs or those with special character, he sells them to area furniture makers.

Local sawyers cut the lumber into planks or beams.

Vince Johnson is a local sawyer in Vernon with a portable sawmill that he drives to the woodlot at harvest time.  He sawed black locust and norway spruce logs for us at Stonehurst, our new fine furniture gallery.  They are currently being used to build a deck behind our showroom.

Kerber Mills is another local sawyer with a small mill in Guilford, VT.  Clint Kerber milled the cherry and maple wood for our hardwood floors at the Stonehurst showroom.

Local furniture makers transform the wood into fine furniture.

Check out some of the specialty Forest to Furniture products that have been made by members the prestigious Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers including Richard Bissell of Putney Vermont and David Hurwitz of Randolf, VT.

So… what do you think?  Does the story (and the benefit to local economies) behind local wood furniture add enough value to sway your buying decision?  Or is imported furniture just too darned affordable to pass up? Let us know your thoughts 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.

Vermont Furniture Makers: Wages and Income

Last updated on May 4th, 2018 at 03:04 pm

Vermont Furniture Makers | Wages and Income Discussion
I took this photo earlier this year of some of the master craftsmen responsible for the best of Vermont Made furniture.  From left:  Bill Laberge, Bob Gasperetti, Steve Holman and Dan Mosheim.  Each has a woodworking shop, quite typical of Vermont’s independent furniture makers.*

One of the best things about running a sustainable furniture business is that our customers are people who care about how we treat the environment and the people we work with.  They’ve come to us because they are willing to pay a premium for high quality, American made furniture that’s crafted from sustainably harvested wood– by furniture makers who are paid a fair, livable wage.

Yesterday we received this note from Wayne J:

I appreciated the description of your commitment to sustainability. I would also like to know how you care for the artisans and trades people who build and ship the furniture. What percentage of the price flows to these people? Are they paid a living wage? What is the ratio of their pay to that of the CEO? Are they making enough to create for themselves safe environments for doing their work. For me to do repeat business at this price point, it will be important to have answers to these questions as well.

These are great questions.  I would ask the same thing if I was a customer and I thought you might be interested in the answers, so I decided to post them here.  I’ll break it down into Compensation and Occupational Safety & Health.

Compensation

Vermont Woods Studios is set up as a marketing and sales company.  We actually don’t build much furniture anymore (we started out with Ken building furniture but as we grew, he couldn’t keep up, so we got him doing the bookkeeping instead).  So we don’t directly employ furniture makers.  We work with independent Vermont furniture makers, either buying furniture wholesale and selling retail or via commission or referral fees.

From the beginning, we set Vermont Woods Studios up as a mission-driven company, that is:  To conserve forests and artistic woodworking while providing our customers with the best selection, value, quality and service available for Vermont made wood furniture.

Because Ken is a woodworker, we are well aware of the amount of time and effort that goes into a piece of handcrafted furniture.  We have a middle ground to walk between helping Vermont furniture companies and craftspeople achieve high quality jobs and providing our customers with the best value for their furniture.  All the while we must compensate our marketing, sales and web development staff as best we can.

As for the CEO’s salary… well that would be mine.  I haven’t actually taken a salary yet, per se.  We are in our 8th year at Vermont Woods Studios and as other small business owners will attest, much of the early years involves investing and rolling profits back into the business, rather than taking a salary.  For now, I am sustained with the knowledge that if we meet our challenge of creating efficiencies in the Vermont furniture making and shipping system, we’ll end up with a win-win-win-win situation: for woodworkers, customers, Vermont Woods Studios employees (including me) and the environment.

Occupational Safety and Health

Vermont has the highest environmental standards of any state in the nation.  As for the safety and health of the woodworkers that craft furniture for Vermont Woods Studios, I believe all the companies we work with (both large and small) go above and beyond federal and state OSHA and EPA regulations.  Prior to starting this company I worked in environmental and occupational health and safety for 20+ years, with my most recent work in this occupation was at Tulane’s Center for Applied Environmental Public Health.  That experience, plus the fact that Ken has an active woodworking shop gives me confidence in my assessment of the safety and health protections our woodworking partners employ.  I do realize that we have to take a more active role in documenting safety, health and sustainability compliance amongst our partners in the future, though.

If you’re interested in additional details regarding sustainability, livable wages and worker safety at Vermont Woods Studios, please browse through our fine furniture website to learn about:

and give me a call or email me to suggest ways for us to continually improve.

* Not all of our craftspeople have their own businesses.  Many work for larger companies, like Copeland Furniture.  Read more about sustainability and the treatment of craftspeople at Copeland Furniture here.

considered proprietary information

according tothe Vermont Department of Labor, the average annual salary for a Vermont woodworker is $ 32,440

http://www.vtlmi.info/oic3.cfm?occcode=51709900#wage

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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.