Sustainability

Golden Stage Inn is proud to offer sustainable toiletries and local ingredients to our guests. We keep backyard farm animals and honeybees, and are interested in promoting sustainability, local businesses, and eco-friendly events. Visit Vermont to stay green!


A Beekeeping Workshop with Renowned Vermont Natural Beekeeper

Honey bees are an essential fact of the innkeeping life here at Golden Stage Bed and Breakfast.

Our hive tours entertain and educate guests; the harvest season brings folks from far and near to our annual Honey Harvest Festival; and, of course, the golden reward of raw honey from the inn’s backyard sweetens guests’ morning tea and breakfast treats year-round.

Golden Stage Inn Honey bee hives in winter

Julie and I attended a natural beekeeping conference this weekend with renowned organic beekeeper Ross Conrad of Dancing Bee Gardens in Middlebury, Vermont.  Ross Conrad wrote the first book in the United States about organic beekeeping practices, so naturally we had to check this out!  The beekeeping workshop was part of Grafton Nature Museum’s 2014 Adult and Family Programs.  The theme this year is ‘The Birds and the Bees.’  Conrad also did a presentation for this series that Julie attended a few weeks ago about Colony Collapse Disorder.  Coming up this week is a talk with Sara Zahendra about Native Bumblebees, and on April 9th, Bridget Butler ‘The Bird Diva’ will present a workshop on bird-watching!

So, back to the organic beekeeping workshop…

Though I have not yet started my own backyard beekeeping, I figured I could still pick up some advice or inspiration from the talk.  Sure enough, I walked away with my head positively buzzing with knowledge and excitement about keeping bees.  Here, I’d like to share with you some of the lessons I learned from Ross Conrad!

  1. Treat your bees well.  Some people buy hives with the expectation of having a low-maintenance pet.  Bees should be cared for just as you would any other livestock or living creature.  Visit their hives once a week; be attune to their state of health; do what is natural and good for the bees rather than simply caring about the size of your honey harvest.
  2. To begin beekeeping, learn by doing!  As a beginning beekeeper myself, I really took this message to heart.  I can attend as many talks as I want, and read every book about bees, but that will not make me a good beekeeper!  The best way to learn beekeeping is to do it.  Just as in real life, we must learn from our failures.  Conrad said, “When your hive fails, that colony was giving you a gift.  They are helping you learn from your mistakes and be a better beekeeper in the future.”  A beekeeper must take that opportunity to learn – to evaluate what went wrong and how she or he can do better next time.  There are local beekeeping clubs to help you get started with networking all across the country.
  3. There is no correct way to keep bees.  Every beekeeper has their own method.  Some are organic, some use pesticides.  Some are hobby beekeepers, some are commercial.  Everyone has their own philosophy and rules when it comes to honey bees, and you will figure out your own once you spend time with your hives.
  4. Always control for mites. Ross Conrad’s three priorities with raising bees are health, honey and dryness.  Keeping your bees healthy comes first!  If you do nothing for varroa mites, which every hive will inevitably deal with, your bees will have weakened immune systems.  This means their chances of succumbing to diseases, pests or difficult weather conditions will be threatened.  Conrad listed many ways of controlling for varroa mites organically, so that your bees and honey are not exposed to pesticides or toxins.
  5. If you hold a bee in your hand, the world will be beautiful… because beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder!

Dancing Bee Gardens Raw Honey

Visit Vermont to meet the honey bees at Golden Stage Inn bed and breakfast and sample some local honey!  Stay tuned to hear about our bee installation this spring.

Vermont Zombie Honey Bees caused by Parasitic Fly

The honey bees at the Golden Stage Inn are waiting out the winter to make another delicious batch of local Vermont honey this summer, but always on a backyard beekeeper’s mind is the threat of what is known as “Colony Collapse Disorder.” While the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder remains a mystery and may be more complicated than one simple answer, a parasitic fly may have something to do with it. Before October 2013, this parasite had not been observed any further East than South Dakota…but a recent spotting will cause concern for Vermont beekeepers this summer. The phenomenon of ‘Zombie Bees’ (or even ‘ZomBees‘) has reached Vermont and now threatens the East Coast. See where Zombie Honey Bees have been spotted across the United States using this map, and visit www.zombiewatch.org to help monitor the spread of the ZomBee syndrome through citizen science.

Vermont Zombie Honey Bee killed by Parasitic Fly

Save our pollinators!

The parasitic fly causing the zombie-like infection is called Apocephalus borealis, and has been known since the 1920′s as a parasite of yellow jackets and bumble bees. John Hafernik discovered that the zombie fly infected honey bees as well in 2008, just two years after colony collapse disorder began to affect honey bees and their hives. Apocephalus borealis lays its eggs in the stomach of the honeybee. The infected honey bee leaves its hive, exhibiting symptoms such as nocturnal activity, attraction to light, and disoriented, spasmodic movement. It is this convulsive movement that the term “ZomBee” came from, as the bees move very similarly to zombies in Hollywood movies. They are not actually undead; they simply appear to be. When the eggs hatch, the honey bee dies. Unfortunately, Vermont was the first state in the East Coast to record a sighting of this parasitic attack back in October 2013 in Burlington. It is unknown whether these Vermont zombie honey bees are an isolated case or a forewarning of more Apocephalus borealis infestations to come.

Colony collapse disorder is a serious threat to both backyard beekeepers and large-scale, commercial beekeepers. Since 1/3 of the fruits and vegetables we eat depend upon bees to be pollinated, this disorder doesn’t just affect the insects – it affects our cuisine and nutrition as people!  Vermont zombie honey bees may be a new threat to beehives across Vermont or even New England, which is why it’s important to continue research and become a beekeeper! Even if you are not a beekeeper and don’t plan on keeping honeybees, you can help in other ways. Purchase local Vermont honey as your sweetener. Welcome beekeepers to your community. Know what chemicals and pesticides have been found to harm honey bees and contribute to colony collapse disorder. Plant a bee-friendly garden with native wildflowers. Learning about bees is not just environmentally-conscious…it is fascinating and fun!!

Bzzzz. -Sophi Veltrop, Golden Stage Inn Undead Insect Researcher

Stay Green and enjoy Vermont local food with our sustainable B&B!

Did you know the Golden Stage Inn is a member of Vermont Fresh Network and Green Hotels in the Green Mountain State?

Our VT B&B is sustainable, green, environmentally-conscious and eco-friendly

Our bed and breakfast is proud of making a commitment to being sustainable, green, eco-friendly…whatever the trendy term may be for caring responsibly about our environment! This means serving Vermont local foods and using green products at the inn. Being eco-friendly is especially important in the state of Vermont, where the natural beauty and wildlife of mountains, forests and waterways is central to VT identity. As a member of Green Hotels of the Green Mountain State, we recycle and compost as much as possible, in addition to buying recycled products when we can. Julie recently noticed that every cleaning product used at the inn is eco-friendly, a development to be proud of! Every time plumbing is redone, such as with toilets and shower heads, Golden Stage Inn uses low-flow appliances to replace old plumbing, thus conserving water. All these efforts are testament to an ever-evolving and continual effort to green our bed and breakfast business. Green Hotels of the Green Mountains must show “a commitment to pollution prevention and exemplary environmental stewardship,” as the website says. We hope you can see this stewardship each time you stay at our Southeastern VT inn!

We are a member of the Vermont Fresh Network as an inn and B&B

We are also pleased to be a part of the Vermont Fresh Network, which allows us to connect with many Vermont local food producers as we prepare breakfasts and goodies for guests. Some of our farm-to-table partners include Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Jersey Girls Farm Cafe and Market, Wellwood Orchards, and Crowley Cheese. The bacon served at breakfast is smoked just down the road at Singleton’s General Store. Most importantly, we supply our own eggs, honey, and sometimes herbs from our backyard free-range hens and honeybee hives. Summer offers fresh local fruit and vegetables from farms in the Okemo Valley…and it would be blasphemous to not have an ample supply of Vermont maple syrup on hand for your morning pancakes and waffles!

For the Golden Stage Inn, sustainability is about more than Vermont local foods, green cleaning products and memberships. Sustainability is a mentality, a conversation, and a way of life. We hope you’ll see for yourself that Vermont is committed to the environment in so many ways, and that our local connections and economies can do wonders to maintaining a safe and green world for future generations.

 

Natural Homes Exhibit for all ages
Explore the life-sized termite mound (termites not included!). Just like honeybees, we can learn a lot about living in harmony with nature from these fascinating creatures.

Take a look at nature’s dwellings through a sustainable inn

A new exhibit at the Montshire Museum of Science teaches us how our homes can become sustainable.

Dwelling Within the Forces of Nature Exhibit Norwich VT

 

The Golden Stage Inn strives to be eco-friendly whenever possible, to create a lifestyle of low-impact traveling and give guests the option of choosing a sustainable inn.  That’s why we can’t wait to check out the new ‘Sustainable Shelters’ exhibit at Montshire Museum in Norwich, VT!

The Montshire Museum of Science is just 50 minutes away from our rurally located Vermont bed and breakfast.  Between February 1st and May 26th, the museum will feature an impressive exhibition entitled ‘Sustainable Shelter: Dwelling Within the Forces of Nature,’ created by the Center for Sustainable Building Research and the Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota.  Visitors can explore how our homes can become more natural through two lenses; that of modern architectural green technologies and that of the the animal kingdom.  This is a fun-filled and educational trip for the kids, who will be sucked in by cartoons, games and interactive models.  Children can poke their heads into the living terrarium featured above, while parents learn about the life cycles of building materials and US water and energy consumption.  Animal nests and structures appear about museum, including a life-sized any colony and termite mound.  Participants can build their own sustainable homes, compare efficient architecture to ‘typical’ homes, and look at differences in dwellings across cultures and eras.

The Montshire Museum of Science is a riveting destination all year round.  For Vermonters and visitors alike, the 100-acre site is absolutely mind-opening no matter your age.  Wildlife can be spotted from the trails, and you can splash in the Science Park or step into space for a moment in the Planet Walk.  They offer an amazing variety of programs such as summer camps, talks and special events…on February 15th get ready for the annual Igloo Build, called the #1 Way to Winter Fun by Yankee Magazine! Attending this event would be taking low-impact dwellings to a whole new level. So head over to the Montshire Museum, and if a Green (Mountain) vacation to a sustainable inn is your idea of a guilt-free getaway, give us a call!

Here in our neck of the Vermont woods, we also strive to make ourselves a sustainable inn in a few key ways:

  • We love welcoming our guests to try the locally produced foods of Southern Vermont, including our own eggs and honey.
  • Leftover soaps are recycled through a program called ‘Clean the World,’ which reduces waste in landfills while providing sanitized soap to those in need.
  • We purchase green cleaning products and energy-efficient appliances.
  • Our amenities are of the “BeeKind” line, which minimizes environmental impact while donating a portion of profits to researching the plight of the honeybee.
  • As many of you know, we keep honeybees and promote education on the importance of local beekeeping to the survival of this important and delicate species.

Vermont Bed and Breakfast Offers Quality Amenities

Holiday Shopping, Round Two

Chester, Vermont is one of those towns you can drive through and admire, or dive into and discover.  I’d recommend the diving route, as it was the perfect place for me to tackle some pressing holiday shopping without feeling rushed, worried or overwhelmed.  It is eclectic, full of hidden treasures, and quaint without being frilly. Seasonal white lights have already gone up on the trees at the town center where a fantastic array of small stores surrounds the village green.  I always stop first at the Moon Dog Café to fuel up with curried chicken salad and a hot drink.  The long, soft-colored room has a small grocery section and an extensive collection of body care products, as well as scarves, tableware, and various odds and ends.  For those who love the organic, natural side of things, this place will hold your attention for a while.  At the far end of the café is a set of stairs leading to a vast playroom for young children called the SongYard.  The SongYard hosts events and arts ‘n’ crafts, and features a children’s clothing thrift rack.

Next down the line of Chester’s main street stores is Country Treasures, a quilting shop.  My mom took a beginner’s class there and made a gorgeous baby blanket.  Though I am not one for sewing, I still love looking at their creative fabrics and use them to wrap my Christmas gifts in a more personal and sustainable way.  Misty Valley Books is probably the best place to find something for everyone on your holiday shopping list.  This small bookstore often hosts local or visiting authors, and has a great selection of including a shelf full of Vermont and New England based fiction and non-fiction.  I found a small book full of early photos of my hometown, Springfield VT, to give to my parents for Christmas!  Other unique stores include a Polish Pottery shop, Mountain Leather Design, and DaVallia, a jewelry and home accent boutique a bit pricier than the rest of the plaza.

If you head east through the center of town, you’ll come to Meditrina Wine and Cheese and Pear Tree Home and Garden. I have not been to Pear Tree, but Meditrina is an intimate space with very knowledgeable staff. Continue east to get to the Vermont Country Store, an ever-bustling hotspot for Vermont products of every imaginable sort.

If you head north on Route 103, even more surprises await! Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts, or VTica, is an absolute gem that sits across from the gas station. I recently attended a gallery opening and was not only in love with the artists the owners chose to feature, but also the affordability of the entire collection. ‘Something to Celebrate,’ their current collection, shows the work of Vermont artists who have a high level of finesse comparable to those featured in high end galleries in New York, said President Robert Sarly. One does abstract glasswork that hangs like clouds from the ceiling. Another paints poppies on top of roadmaps of Chester and surrounding towns. At the back of the exhibit was the star of the show, a collection of 33 top contestants in an abstract challenge set up by both VTica and the VT Water Color Society.

Across from VTica is a combination antique gallery and seafood restaurant called Austin’s Antiques and the Wheelhouse Restaurant. I have yet to explore it, and am so curious to find out what the place could possibly look like inside! The chef has a weekly column called ‘Catch of the Week’ in the local paper with seafood recipes to try at home. (This week was lobster quiche – yum!) Continue up 103 and you’ll find a thrift store and a massage therapy office, followed by a woodworking business that hosts an annual chainsaw carving festival and competition every October! I attended the festival and was surprised at how affordable some of the carvings were. Beyond the creative displays of wooden statues and benches is Lisai’s market and grocery near the train station. Bonnie’s Bundles Dolls is an especially unique store, which hand-crafts old-fashioned Vermont dolls. They are gorgeous to look at, but certainly an investment. Finally, you’ll find an open-air roadside market selling Christmas trees and wreaths. In the spring they feature flowers and in the summer and fall are chock full of Vermont produce.

Though we are in the last week of availability for our I Hate Malls package, we are likely to make it an annual occasion! Keep us in mind next Christmas if the consumerism and advertisements are starting to get to you.

-Sophi Veltrop, Golden Stage Inn

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