our team

Aja Hudson
Executive Director, Lead Designer, Founding Member, Owner

Aja is a lifetime resident of the Hudson Valley, born into a family whose legacy is rooted in the local farming industry. The value of Aja’s work draws from her diverse experiences in land management, propagation, and design, which range from tending the family’s fruit and vegetable production gardens alongside her grandfather from the age of five, to working in New Orleans in the late 90s as a manager for a chain of nurseries whose headquarters were in the 9th ward. Experiencing the juxtaposition of the tropical abundance of these nurseries embedded in a profoundly underserved community, and witnessing how the area was addressed politically after hurricane Katrina has informed much of her subsequent activity and thinking. Her designs are also deeply inspired by her extensive explorations of the high deserts of California and Colorado, as well as the Mountain Ranges of Wyoming and Montana.

Aja was the founder and sole proprietor of Earth Designs from its inception in 2001 until 2016. In order to develop the company more sustainably and align its mission with her long-standing values, in 2014 she offered her employees an opportunity for shared ownership in the company. In May of 2016, eight employees, including Aja herself, became the founding members of Earth Designs Cooperative. Currently, Aja serves as the Executive Director as well as the Board president. As a mentor to the team at EDC, she plays an important role in both conceptualizing the trajectory of the Cooperative and supporting its growth.

Aja studied Landscape Design at the School of Horticulture at the New York Botanical Gardens and is fluent in DynaSCAPE as well as classic landscape illustration and drafting. She is also a Good Work Institute Fellow and actively engages as an environmental & community activist in the Hudson Valley.

Erin Domagal
Creative Director, Design Team, Founding Member, Owner
Woven from the threads of art, nature-connection and education, Erin’s work at EDC is centered on shaping cooperative culture and designing for an ecologically sustainable future. In her work with medicinal plants – both at EDC and as the founder and herbalist at Wild Seed Apothecary – she is focused on cultivating practical and spiritual connections between plants and people. Erin has over a decade of landscaping experience and previously worked in wilderness and farm-based education programs. She holds a BFA in Drawing & Painting from SUNY New Paltz, a Masters Degree in Education from Goddard College, and studied Landscape Design at NYBG School of Horticulture.
Jolie Herbst
Site Manager, Design Team, Founding Member, Owner
As a landscape designer for EDC, Jolie is in her element combining her love of art and of nature. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts from SUNY New Paltz, and has studied at the New York Botanical Gardens. She is currently participating in a Next Economy seminar series so as to inform the growth of EDC in regenerative and creative ways. Over the last decade, Jolie has travelled throughout the world, drawing inspiration from the complex relationships between history and architecture, changing culture, and the dynamic tensions at play within the ecosystem. Jolie strives to carry these ideas through to her work, and to skillfully apply them according to scale and circumstance. Jolie lives in Rosendale with her partner and precocious dog, Oona.
Maria Vigna
Site Manager, Design Team, Owner
As a lifelong student of horticulture, agriculture and ecological anthropology, Maria has worked and studied in gardens, sustainability projects and organic farms around the world. She was born and raised in the Hudson Valley of New York and continues to pursue environmental stewardship as a co-owner and site manager for EDC. Maria holds a degree in Anthropology from SUNY New Paltz with a concentration in subsistence economics, is an avid homesteader and biodynamic farming enthusiast, and currently lives in Accord with her partner, dog, cats, and honeybees.
Conor Corbett
Irrigation Department Manager, Founding Member, Owner
Growing up in the Hudson Valley, Conor spent his summers working as a lifeguard and swimming in the waters of the Rondout Valley Watershed. What began as a casual encounter with landscaping in the summer of 2012 later developed into a deeper call to steward the land. Conor began working for Earth Designs in 2015 as an employee, and was one of the founding members and guiding forces of the transition to the worker-owned cooperative model. Conor has studied irrigation at the New York Botanical Gardens and continues to expand his knowledge of plant-care as head of the irrigation department and vice president of the board of EDC.
Tommy Guerrero
Meadow Department Manager, Owner

Growing up among the mangroves and tropical rainforests of Dominican Republic, Tommy developed a deep love for the natural world. Guided by the curiosity awakened by that experience, he pursued an education in Environmental Science at the State University of New York, with a focus on rainforest ecology. He went on to pursue a B.S. in Computer Science at Pennsylvania State University.

In his role as Meadow Department Manager, Tommy is committed to creating and maintaining native meadows that invite peaceful meditation and encourage the cultivation of love and care for these dynamic environments.

Colin McDonough
Equipment Manager, Forester, Owner
Colin is an avid outdoorsman with a background in Mechanics, Logistics and Land Management. He has a passion for Forestry and Arboriculture, and is currently enrolled to become an ISA Board Certified Arborist, with the intention of stewarding woodland landscapes and encouraging the deep connection between people and the nature that surrounds them. Colin has served with local town environmental commissions and continues to volunteer with various outreach programs in Ulster County that focus on community culture, sustainability, and environmental conservation.
Alan LeFevre
Equipment Supervisor, Owner
Alan is a Hudson Valley native with roots reaching back to both the indigenous peoples and colonial settlers of the area. After studying Philosophy at Ulster County Community College, he worked for six years at an organic farm where his family had stewarded the land for generations. This hands-on experience offered him the tools of the trade necessary to develop his educational formation into a concrete social and ecological praxis. He continues to perform this work at Earth Designs, in his role as equipment supervisor and as a member-owner.
Alessandra Guarino
Research and Development
Alessandra joined Earth Designs in 2018 to facilitate the company establishing a new site of operations and expanding its nursery facilities. Previously, she lived in southern Italy and worked in disaster-relief and community resilience for the Civil Protection “Gruppo Lucano.” Alessandra holds a degree in Philosophy and Critical Theory from Sussex University, in the UK, and another in Comparative Literature from NYU, where her thesis was on literary and political representations of natural abundance. Currently, she is working on a trans-disciplinary research project examining notions of landscape and land-use practices which draws together theoretical and aesthetic work.
Angela DeFelice
Operations Manager
Angela oversees operations and the development of new internal systems at EDC. In line with this work, she is supporting the development of a cooperative ecosystem in the Hudson Valley, including a loan fund for worker-owned businesses. Angela is currently studying economic democracy and New Economy businesses, and holds degrees in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, and in Non-Profit Administration from Ithaca College. Prior to joining EDC Angela farmed organic vegetables and cut flowers for 10 years, most recently as the Flower Manager and a founding worker-owner of Rock Steady Farm & Flowers in Millerton, NY.
Alison Gruber
Office Manager
Ali joined the company in 2015, and helped to support its transition to a worker-owned cooperative in 2016. As the office manager at EDC, her jobs include payroll, billing, general bookkeeping and everything in-between. Ali has served as a bookkeeper for nearly a decade for a number of local businesses. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music history from SUNY New Paltz and, when she’s not on the other end of the phone in the EDC office, she is tending to her own business as an analog vinyl DJ. She lives in Kingston, NY with her partner Louis and their young son, Cosmo.
Jonathan Daniel
Nursery Manager
Jonathan joined EDC in 2018, where he currently manages the company nursery with a focus on growing native perennials as well as varieties of specialized shrubs, trees and edibles. Jonathan studied Literature and Philosophy through Masters level in England before shifting focus to develop a broad aesthetic practice that engages with compositional form, leading to an appreciation for spatiality and transformation in and through the form of gardens in both design and practice. He also maintains a sound-recording practice alongside gardening and nursery work, as an exercise in attentive listening as well as to serve and support worthwhile causes in the community through appropriate uses of media.

 

Tommy Guerrero, Meadow Department Manager • Jolie Herbst, Site Manager • Aja Hudson, Executive Director • Erin Domagal, Creative Director • Maria Vigna, Site Manager • Colin McDonough, Equipment Manager • Conor Corbett, Irrigation Department Manager

“Earth Designs arrived at our home and within two days transformed a weed infested ugly bank into an attractive easy to care for stone garden complete with ferns and grasses to soften the look. The staff was hardworking, efficient, and took care with other features of our property. If we have another project we need completed, we would not hesitate to hire them again. We continue to appreciate and enjoy the tremendous improvement in our yard!”

Cheryl and Joe Kosarek August 7, 2016

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