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WAC grant helps N.Y. furniture maker

Judd Weisberg, of Judd Weisberg Designs in Lexington, N.Y., is a rustic designer, teacher and custom furniture builder who recently completed a project to improve his company's ability to attract new customers. The project was funded, in part, through a federal grant administered by the Watershed Agricultural Council's Forestry Program.

"One of the main goals of the watershed forestry grants program is to provide incentives that improve markets for locally made forest products," states Collin Miller, a wood utilization specialist at the WAC, a nonprofit organization with the mission to support the economic viability of agriculture and forestry through the protection of water quality and the promotion of land conservation in the New York City watershed region.

Weisberg assembles a variety of branches, burls and roots shaped by nature into a variety of products, including tables, chairs, mirrors and sculptures.

Juried craft shows, such as the Rustic Fair, held annually in September at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y., are where Weisberg generates a large share of his annual sales by taking custom orders and selling pre-built work. However, the hassle and expense of transporting his work was becoming a problem.

"I was using a small Chevy Blazer and a hand-built booth that was fairly labor intensive," Weisberg said. "Since I do about three or four shows like this in a year, it was very taxing on the body."

The grant funds, awarded through a competitive application process in 2007, have allowed Weisberg to purchase a new booth and a custom-detailed box trailer. He also hired another Lexington businessman, John Sturman of Blue Moon Farm, to generate key promotional items, including a full-color leaflet and digital portfolio.

WAC’s purpose is to protect both the rural, land-based economy of the New York City watershed region and the drinking water quality of more than nine million people. Working with farmers, agribusinesses, forest landowners, forest industry professionals and others, the WAC seeks to enhance both business profitability and environmental stewardship. It works through partnerships with other nonprofit organizations, government agencies and community stakeholders to achieve its purpose.

The WAC is funded by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, and other federal and foundation sources.

Contact: Watershed Agricultural Council. Tel: 607-865-7790.

— Jennifer Hicks

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