Today is El Dia de los Muertos
I thought today would be a good day to update you on our VWS monarch conservation efforts. Every year, with an uncanny sense of timing, monarch butterflies complete their epic migration and arrive in Mexico on November 1st. Many of these insects (weighing no more than a raisin) have flown over 3000 miles (from Vermont and all across North America)! They arrive today, on the Day of the Dead. The entire sky is orange, with millions of monarch butterflies streaming in from the USA and Canada. Believers see the monarchs as returning spirits of their ancestors.
We Restore Forests Where Our Competitors Harvest Illegally
We plant trees in Mexico and milkweed in Vermont to restore monarch habitat.
Ken and I founded Vermont Woods Studios on a mission of forest conservation. Wood furniture is often made from trees that are harvested illegally from endangered wildlife habitats in developing countries. We wanted to raise awareness about that. We try to persuade people to buy furniture made from legal, sustainably harvested wood. When our boys were little they loved to watch monarch caterpillars turn into butterflies & that drew us into this project.
Reforestation of Mexico's Monarch Habitat
Through Forests for Monarchs FFM, we supply saplings and reforestation expertise to communities in Mexico.
60,000 Trees Planted
Since we started VWS in 2013, our customers have enabled us to plant almost 60,000 trees in vulnerable forest habitats all around the world. Our reforestation efforts are now focused on planting pine trees in Michoacan, Mexico where Vermont's monarchs spend the winter. I volunteer and serve as VP of Forests for Monarchs, a non-profit providing saplings to Mexican communities that do the planting.
Our Save the Monarchs tour stopped at the Echo science center in Burlington, VT. Pictured are key monarch conservationists from all 3 North American countries, including Jose Luis Alvarez (Mexico) Francois Simard (Canada), Heather Darby & myself (USA).
Save the Monarchs Tour
In 2016 we created a "Save the Monarchs tour" of the Northeast. We brought Mexican Monarch expert, Jose Luis Alvarez to New England to raise awareness about the monarch’s plight. We made presentations at Harvard, Yale, The Boston Museum of Science, the Mass Horticultural Society, Echo Science Center in Burlington, VT, Audubon Greenwich and the Philadelphia Zoo. It was an ambitious event for a small company like VWS but well worth the effort. We were able to raise awareness and persuade many people to plant milkweed and nectar flowers for the monarchs.
International Symposium on Milkweed
In 2017 we brought Jose Luis Alvarez to the Milkweed Symposium in Canada. The meeting was organized by Francois Simard, a Canadian entrepreneur & textiles engineer who’s developing technologies to use milkweed fibers as a down substitute in winter jackets. Jose Luis was a favorite speaker, sharing details about his forest restoration projects in Mexico's monarch habitat.
Certified Monarch WayStation at Stonehurst
Every year we plant milkweed and nectar flowers at Stonehurst, the 109 acre property that houses our furniture showroom. You can create a Monarch Waystation too. Find out how and register your garden at MonarchWatch.org
Join Our Monarch Conservation Facebook Group
Getting involved in rescuing monarchs from the brink of extinction is fun! We've started a monarch facebook group where you can share ideas, questions, answers & photos to get the job done. Join us.
It's Working! 2018 Could be a BIG Year
All indications are that monarchs are making an exciting comeback this year. We'll know more once an official count is done in late December by the World Wildlife Fund WWF & Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve MBBR. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping the weather will cooperate. It's been fun to be a part of a community of nature nuts from all across the continent working to save this iconic species from extinction. Stay tuned -- there is still much work to be done.
* Monarch migration details