Justin West

Co-Founder and CEO, Thrive Lot


    B.A in Communications, University of Tennessee

    “I think that for us to progress in a healthy way on this planet, we have got to learn how to facilitate natural systems for our benefit instead of extracting from them.”

    - Justin West

    Designing urban ecosystems with a wilder future in mind — for people and planet

    Justin West, the CEO and co-founder of Thrive Lot, carries an early memory from his childhood of watching with his mother from the window of their home in North Carolina as trees in the distance were being cleared for a new subdivision. 

    “I was three, maybe four, years old,” says Justin, “and she was so sad.” 

    Like any good adventure story, Justin’s journey to Thrive Lot has twists and turns. ThriveLot is not his first entrepreneurial undertaking, but it’s easy to see how the seeds of the project were planted inside him from a young age.

    When Justin was five, the Wests moved to a farm that once belonged to an Amish family, where there were orchards of apples and grapes and patches of wildberries. Justin learned to forage for fruits and preserve them by creating jellies and jams with his mom in the kitchen. He worked in the garden. At age 11, he joined the local 4-H club as a “wildlife judge,” which meant spending time gathering data about the biodiversity on plots of land that ranged in size from one tenth of an acre to multiple thousands of acres of land, including watersheds, and then making land management recommendations to improve the balance of life in those ecosystems. At fifteen, he won a national competition for urban ecological design.

    “What we do to the land, every tree that we cut down, every path that we create, every plant that we plot, radically changes the entire web of life,” Justin says, “and it doesn’t have to be negative.” 

    Thrive Lot was founded in the spirit of that idea—that we can influence the biological makeup and biodiversity of the land we touch in positive, or constructive, ways.

    Thrive Lot is a platform that helps people transform their yards and property into lush bountiful ecosystems. What that can mean is anything from building pollinator gardens to vegetable gardens and designing orchards, or introducing chicken coops and compost kits—anything that is part of a sustainable lifestyle, and which creates a sustainable home, with a real focus on creating biodiverse ecosystems in our own backyards.

    “I believe that in the modern world we have so many things that are wonderful,” says Justin. “I think that for us to progress in a healthy way on this planet, we have got to learn how to facilitate natural systems for our benefit instead of extracting from them.” 

    The question of how we continue to feed ourselves is a big part of the equation for protecting and restoring the wild on Earth. Thrive Lot presents an intriguing solution to that question—a reminder that we can feed each other with plants that are native to the ecosystems where we already live, and that the most nutritious food is almost always food that we grow ourselves.

    Before Thrive Lot was born, driven by an intense urge to “do something big and good,” Justin considered what the world might look like if we eventually come to depend on indoor farming to feed our species. 

    “It looks like that planet in Star Wars,” he said. “We end up just covering the world in buildings. That means we’re destroying all the wild places, we’re destroying all the biodiversity, and that future generations can’t study nature’s intellectual property with future tools. I just didn’t really love that.” 

    Thrive Lot is the culmination of a seven-year journey for Justin, which started with a question about how to harness the economic power of a technology startup to create a solution to one of the most critical issues of the anthropocene: How do we feed ourselves in a way that is good for people and for biodiversity?