people

Zachary Berger Associates, Ltd. is an ecological land use planning and design firm, founded in 1997 and serving all of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Our niche practice seamlessly integrates sustainable land use planning, ecologicial landscape design, conservation + restoration with the people that use these landscapes. Undoubtably, most people have often heard the terms “ecological” and “sustainable” as they have been woven into our collective consciousness in recent years. Although these terms and related design programs are often inadequately defined and implemented, we view ecological awareness as the first step in understanding progressive and beneficial land use. We forged our own sustainable design path from the beginning – long before it became trendy – and we remain optimistic that ecologically-conscious land use design and stewardship becomes a positive trend for the long term.

Our work endeavors to integrate and partner with northeastern ecoregions, which include the Northeastern Highlands, Northeastern Coastal Zone, Acadian Plains and Hills, and Eastern Great Lakes Lowlands. We provide design, consulting and administration for land use, conservation and restoration throughout northern New England. We are experienced in working with challenging environments- mountainside, lakeside and oceanside. Our services include sustainable ecological design for conservation properties and associations; large-scale residential landscape + permaculture master plans; preservation plans for historic natural landscapes; and landscape renovation plans for both urban sites and rural properties

Services: Conservation and habitat restoration plans  ·  ecological land use planning  ·  landscape master plans  ·  permaculture plans  ·  landscape installation management  ·  shoreland permit-related services  ·  land use consulting  ·  and land stewardship programs

Zachary Berger, principal  PDC, AOLCP

Zachary at Starr Lake, base of Mt. Madison in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

Zachary’s passion for ecology and natural landscapes began during his formative years rambling around the oak and hickory uplands of the southern Connecticut River Valley. In his teens, his family moved to the western Maine foothills and lakes region wherein he began his design career, drawing out raised beds with food crop companion plantings on graph paper for the family’s large organic garden and small orchard. After a few years of studying and practicing biological agriculture on small, sustainable farms in Maine and Virginia, Zachary decided to pursue his keen interests in plant science, land planning and garden design. Thus came four years of formal education in horticulture and design at Andrews University in Michigan and Southern Maine Technical College. He founded the firm after several years of native wetland plant production, ornamental nursery production + sales, volunteer trail conservation stewardship and landscape design-build experience throughout New England.

His diversions include ongoing experimentation in his home ecological landscape and hiking + backcountry skiing throughout northern New England. Zachary’s passion for the natural world continues to inform and guide his restorative design approach. 

  • LakeSmart and DEP Certified in Erosion Control Practices
  • Volunteer Trail Adopter for the Appalachian Mountain Club since 2007
  • Hiked nearly 100 of the highest mountains in New England and New York
  • Certified in Permaculture Design from University of New Hampshire (PDC)
  • Accredited Organic Land Care Practitioner (AOLCP)
  • New England Nursery Association Young Nursery Professional of the Year
  • Master Gardener since 1993

Dana Stern, design + stewardship associate  

Dana hanging out at Mackworth Island off the Maine coast

Dana’s fondness of the outdoors likely grew out of spite for growing up in New York City! Spending summers barefoot, picking blackberries in Washington, Vermont, and Maine, she developed a strong desire to form a deep, lifelong relationship with the natural world. As a teen and young adult, she was able to get hands-on experience with ecological activism in Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Australia focusing on amplifying voices of communities affected by oil drilling, nickel mining, and resource scarcity in the Amazon, Cloud Forest, and Outback.  She later enrolled in environmental studies at the University of Vermont, earning a Studio Art degree, with a focus in print making, illustration, and sculpture. After university, Dana studied herbalism and is a practicing community herbalist and medicinal gardener. Following two years of gardening in Vermont, Dana worked as lead gardener for Distinctive Gardening, Inc. an organic certified land care practice in Maine and New Hampshire, broadening her experience as a garden designer and studying ecological design at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

In her free time, she is a ceramicist, illustrator, gardener and fearless explorer of the wild areas on the Maine coast and beyond. Dana aspires to foster relationships between humans and their environment, serving as a creative problem solver when it comes to modern environmental challenges. 

  • BA in Fine Art from the University of Vermont
  • Ecological Garden Design coursework from Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
  • Garden design consultant + coach for residential ornamental and edible gardens
  • Herbal Apprenticeship + Community Herbalism certifications from the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism
  • Certifications in Vinyasa Yoga and Mat Pilates instruction
  • Illustrator and Ceramicist at SlowpokeStudio
  • Summer 2024 projected: Permaculture Design Certification from Maine Ecological Design School

Some of the non-profit organizations we align with and support

Our design, implementation + stewardship partners

In Vermont:

Ronny Stelly, Sylvatica Design
Josh Allaire, Boulder Excavation

In New Hampshire:

John Sandri, Sandri Companies
Philip O’Donnell, NE Land Artisan

In Maine:

Chris Nichols, C.M. Nichols Landscape Co.
George Janosco, Bark Brothers

Map of New England Ecoregions
Ecoregions of New England

As ecological designers, we are in fact, communicators. We listen and respond to the needs of both the land and our clients as we seek the spirit of each site. We tune in to what exists there – past, present and future.  Where there is beauty, we enhance it. Where there is discord, we create harmony. Our quest for enhancement and harmony starts with learning the unique qualities of each site and continues with the creative convergence of plant guilds, natural forms and people. It culminates with stronger and more resilient relationships to local ecosystems, whether on a small or grand scale.