John Monks at work at Vermont Tree Goods.
An Historic Elm
Every spring, The Nature Conservancy visits survivor elms that somehow escaped the virulent Dutch-elm disease--which felled the species by the millions in the 1970s--to harvest buds from their branches and propagate a disease-tolerant strain. Last winter, The Nature Conservancy's long-serving trustee and Charlotte tree warden, Larry Hamilton, identified the largest slippery elm in the Northeast on Thompson's Point in Charlotte, Vermont. Eager to harvest buds from an elm that looked to be somewhere between 250-300 years old, Conservancy staff descended on the Garrett property where the tree grew, only to find it had recently succumbed to Dutch-elm.
The story could have ended there except that the property owner, David Garrett, heard of a talented woodworker that had the know-how and the super-sized equipment to take down the now dead tree and possibly give it a second life.
John Monks, a sustainable artisan woodworker with a penchant for heirloom trees and a good story, became smitten with the elm and envisioned a new life for the elm that honored its heritage and could actually play a role in bringing back its species.
A Second Life
In November John and his Vermont Tree Goods team “disassembled” this historically significant tree and transported it to their one-of-a-kind sawmill where they will kiln dry it and reassemble the wood into artisan furniture starting in spring 2017. This furniture will have a real story to tell and the quality will ensure that the individual pieces and their narrative can be handed down from generation to generation, just as the furniture will spurn another generation of elms.
We want to thank John Monks and Vermont Tree Goods for supporting our elm restoration efforts through their amazing furniture. Their work honors the legacy of Charlotte’s remarkable tree and helps establish new communities of resistant elms for future generations to enjoy.