Greenville, South Carolina native Rick Huffman founded the Pickens-based Earth Design firm to promote his land-ethic value concept first introduced in the late 1940s by Aldo Leopold. Huffman notes that humans must connect to plants, animals and insects that are native, the land's soil, water and air quality before environmental change can occur.
Huffman's Earth Design firm does everything from creating outdoor space designs to building and installing them, including outdoor rooms, arbors, decks, outdoor kitchens, parks, and play space. The group's focus is always on sustainability, green-based solutions, and using native plants in creative ways.
One sample project is the green roof he installed on the revamped Upstate Forever building at 507 Pettigru Street Greenville SC 29601 in downtown Greenville in the mid-2000s. The building was Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certified, the highest possible designation. He planted shallow-root native Piedmont plants on the roof, used two cisterns for rainwater harvesting for the landscape, a small rain garden and permeable walkways for polluted runoff management.
Another example is a partnership with Johnson Design on slope management at a Cliffs Valley residence. Rain gardens, a rock garden and cisterns for roof-water runoff was the solution to the rocky sloping landscape there. Earth Design came up with an outdoor living space with walls, sitting area and garden nooks for the owners.
Huffman's master plan for the 38-acre environmental education center in Nalley Brown Nature Park, Easley, includes "a state-of-the-art environmental education building, walking trails, boardwalks, themed Native American exhibits, early pioneer American culture, and native-plant-restoration models" with a unique waste treatment concept, a tidal ecosystem of plants for natural toxin removal from water. Reusing water is a repeating theme in his designs.
In 2006, he returned to Furman University where he had been a groundskeeper in the late 1980s until he attended the University of Georgia in Athens to obtain his Landscape Architecture Bachelor’s Degree. He worked on a project to restore Furman Lake by rerouting pipes to drain into rain gardens, recharging ground water and absorbing pollutants. Being man-made, the lake fills with sediment, breeds algae and weeds and receives fertilizer runoff. The shore near the amphitheater and Bell Tower was restored.
Huffman suggests, "If you choose natives and place them in the same or similar conditions where they grow in the wild, they will thrive in your garden." Be environmentally friendly using rain barrels and rain gardens in addition to the native plants. To contact him, visit Earth Design at 405 Johnson Street, Pickens, SC 29671, call 864.898.1221, or view his website for more information about the many awards he has won and other projects he has done.
Earth Design has two registered landscape architects, Cheryl Brown, PLA, and Jesse McClung, PLA, an office manager, Barbara Berger, and a knowledgeable field crew on his team ready to help with new environmental design projects.
Watch the attached video of the famous Bill Mollison who travels the world teaching permaculture or what he calls forest farming which is focused on using native plants and animals in your landscape regardless of its size.