Jay Bost came to agroecology through a love for wild nature and a realization that only if we can feed ourselves more sustainably will wild ecosystems be able to flourish. He studied as an undergraduate with Tim Crews at Prescott College in one of the few agroecology programs in existence at the time, and his thinking was greatly influenced by Tim and the wonderful field trips taken to places like Native Seeds/SEARCH, Seeds of Change, and The Land Institute. Jay then spent years working on farms (orchards, mixed vegetable, and seed crops) in the U.S. and informally exploring agrobiodiversity in Mexico. He returned to school for an M.S. in Interdisciplinary Ecology at the University of Florida where he helped build the Ethnoecology Garden into a vibrant place of education, networking, and demonstration on campus. His thesis work took him to the Chinantla area in Oaxaca where he studied the ethnobotany of Persea schiedeana, a semi-domesticated relative of avocado.
Jay’s love of year round growing and tropical agriculture brought him to Oahu where he spent 8 years as a “farm coach” with GoFarm Hawai’i, the University of Hawaii’s new farmer training program. A love of tropical corn deepened under the mentorship of Jim Brewbaker and a passion for seed saving and spreading varieties of interest grew as part of The Hawai’i Seed Growers Network. Wanting to know more about plant breeding, Jay participated in the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy and continues to build a network of others interested in using the amazing diversity of corn to breed for use in agroecologically and culinarily rich food systems. Jay and his family moved to Boone in 2021 to launch Laughing Springs Farm. He’s happy to get to continue to share his passions for agroecology and agrobiodiversity with AppState students. Jay is thrilled to be on the board of the Asheville-based Utopian Seed Project with other crop diversity junkies and to continue to collaborate with the Culinary Breeding Network.