About Us


Chuck Marsh:
Founder and President,
Senior Permaculture Designer

Chuck is a pioneer in ecological landscape design and consulting practices, and founder of Useful Plants Nursery, an edible landscape plant nursery located south of Black Mountain, NC. Chuck has over thirty five years of experience working with the plants, soil, water, climate and people of North Carolina to design and install place appropriate, productive, and sustainable home and commercial landscapes. His career has spanned the wholesale and retail nursery business as well as landscape gardening and landscape contracting businesses. His current focus is on teaching people about edible landscaping, biological economics, and Permaculture Design, which he does locally, nationally and internationally; growing edible and medicinal plants for present and future abundance; and consulting with homeowners and landowners to design and create beautiful, productive, resource conserving landscapes that celebrate and deepen our connection to the natural world.

  • B.S. in biology from Wofford College, Spartanburg, SC.,1973
  • Winner of the 1995 International Permaculture Community Service Award.
  • Co-founder and land planner of Earthaven Ecovillage, 1994-2004
  • Founder of Useful Plants Nursery, 2001
  • Founder and senior partner of Living Systems Design Group, 2001-present
  • Faculty of the Organic Grower’s School, 1994-present
  • Board member of the NC Natural Products Association, 2009-present

Zev Friedman:
Vice President,
Permaculture Designer

Zev is a leading permaculture designer, researcher, teacher and writer in western North Carolina. He grew up in Sylva, NC and received his B.S. in Human Ecology from UNCA. Zev’s specialty is forest agriculture; he now runs the Forest Cuisine Project, which helps land owners to start forest farms and to market their products. He is particularly passionate about assisting landowners in setting up mushroom farming operations and in using fungi as remediators for damaged environments. Zev also specializes in urban permaculture design and installation, including many private residences, as well as consulting on the design of the Mars Hill town hall and grounds; he is an active member and teacher in Transition Asheville, helping to plan for Asheville’s future as an abundant, self-reliant city in the age of petroleum decline.

Living Systems design also has a wide ranging network of professionals and specialists that we can call on as needed to provide additional expertise as needed on a contract or hourly basis for the project..

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  • Random Quote

    “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.”
    R. Buckminster Fuller