October 18, 2010

English Language Development Bears Fruit in School Gardens

Life Lab's Language Acquisition and Science Education in Rural Schools (LASERS)  program showed the positive links between language development and hands-on science using the Life Lab Science curriculum.

This theme was recently revisited by the National Gardening Associations Kidsgardening.com newsletter. View the newsletter to learn how educators use the garden to enhance English Language Learning.

Learn more about LASERS from these past posts:
And from these documents:
  • The LASERS Model
  • English Language Learner Institutes
  • Integrating inquiry science and language development for English. With A. Pinales, M. Latzke, and D. Canaday. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 2002, 39(8), 1-25.
  • Integrating Science and Language Instruction for English Language Learners. Falling Leaves, 9, 9-14.

September 21, 2010

Benefit Event on GoodTimes TV

Life Lab's Annual Benefit was so great this year that the local media came to make a video of it:-)

Greg Archer of the GoodTimes finds out what Life Lab is all about.

August 12, 2010

Life Lab's Taste of the Harvest - Our Annual Benefit Event

Life Lab is Celebrating 31 Years!
Join us for our Annual Benefit Event: A Taste of the Harvest

September 11, 2010
At the Life Lab Garden Classroom, UCSC Farm
4:00-7:00 p.m.

Life Lab Science Program invites you to discover the flavors of the season with delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Jon Dickinson of CafĂ© Cruz.

Bid on fabulous local art, goods and services while you stroll among the fields and flowers and enjoy the view.

•Hors d’oeuvres
•Local wine and beer
•Live Music
•Farm and garden walk
•Silent Auction

$50 per person or
Reserve the Early Bird Special: $150 for 4 people - until September 3rd

View the Invitation

August 09, 2010

Workshops at the Garden Classroom

We are happy to announce our fall 2010 professional development workshops. 1 unit of graduate education credit from the University of the Pacific is available for each workshop day.

Attend a workshop here at our spectacular Garden Classroom in Santa Cruz, or have us come to your school or community. Workshop registrations are processed on a first-come first-serve basis.

  • Plant It, Grow It, Eat It: Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education - Sept 17. $150
  • The Growing Classroom: An Introduction to Garden-Based Learning - Sept 30-Oct 1. $300
  • Sowing the Seeds of Wonder: Discovering the Garden in Early Childhood Education - Oct 23. $150

Fees include workshop instruction, curriculum to take home, and a farm-fresh lunch.

To learn more about our workshops, financial assistance, and registration, please visit: http://www.lifelab.org/workshops.php

For more information on our workshops, you can visit our website or contact Whitney Cohen at education@lifelab.org or (831) 459-3833

June 14, 2010

Chicken Coop Design

Many folks have asked us for our chicken coop design. Here it is as a four page PDF(1.4mb).
This coop is:
  • easy to clean with its side access door
  • crafty with its viewing windows and hinged roof option
  • secure with a nest box and entrance that can be easily locked
  • adaptable to be used with various chicken runs/pens
  • easily modified with wheels to be a small chicken tractor
Thanks to Thomas Wittman for building our coop and providing us with the design.

If you like chickens, check out our chicken cam.

    May 13, 2010

    Strawberries are a Blast

    "Food,What?!" Strawberry Youth Blast coverage from the Santa Cruz Sentinel -- All things strawberry were the focus at the UCSC Farm and Garden Wednesday, as 300 county high and middle school students joined volunteers from Food, What?! for the 2010 Strawberry Blast.
    Teenagers descended on the farm to celebrate the seasonal fruit. They harvested and tasted organic strawberries, made their own smoothies and ate fresh strawberry pies. But strawberries were just the tip of the Food What?! event, dedicated to food education.

    A project of the nonprofit Life Lab Science Program, Food What?! has held the strawberry festival for three years, aiming to make it a cornerstone of nutritional education. Strawberries serve as a vehicle to make teenagers aware that healthy and affordable food is within reach, said Food What?! Director Doron Comerchero.

    Students walked from booth to booth on the half-acre farm, testing their knowledge of fair trade, label understanding and health hazards related to fast food.
    "We are countering the media influence of the fast-food industry," Comerchero said. "Kids are always told about what not to do. But it's super important to talk to them about the healthy alternatives."

    James Smith, director of food services for Santa Cruz City Schools, also manned a nutritional stand. Smith started in the job last August and introduced changes to school lunches. Food services stopped buying prepackaged food, emphasized the importance of fruit and vegetables in a healthy diet and now buys 75 percent of its produce from county farmers, Smith said. But the former UCSC cook stressed the need for better education. "I can put anything out there, but it doesn't mean the kids are going to take it," Smith said. See the rest of the article

    See the "Food, What?!" Blog

    April 22, 2010

    Life Lab's Oral History

    Four key figures in Life Lab's history have been documented as part of UCSC's Cultivating a Movement: An Oral History Series on Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Farming on California's Central Coast.  

    This oral history project conducted by the Regional Oral History Project at the University of California Santa Cruz’s University Library includes fifty-eight interviews with farmers, activists, researchers, and educators. It encompasses the 1960s through the present. You will find transcripts of all of the interviews in full text (PDF) format, along with audio clips from the oral histories, photographs, and additional resources. They provide three navigable categories that offer different portals to this archive. 

    To view, read and listen to Life Lab's contributions to this project visit the project site and scroll down to Life Lab and check out what the follow folks had to say:

    Erika Perloff: Director of Educational Programs (retired)

    Gail Harlamoff: Executive Director

    Roberta Jaffe: Founding Director

    Amy Katzenstein-Escobar: Original Life Lab Teacher



    March 24, 2010

    Edible Crop Planning

    If you haven't already it is time to start planting for your school harvest.. Planting for a school time harvest takes a bit more planning so that you time your harvests while school is still in session.

    Generally there are a few harvest windows during the school year:
    • Vegetable crops planted in late winter-early spring can be harvested before school lets out.
    • Vegetable crops planted in late spring (right before school lets out) can be harvested when school starts back up assuming the garden is watered and weeded during the summer.
    • Vegetable crops planted in late summer-early fall can be harvested in the late fall-winter time.

    To learn more about planning edible harvests and the differences between annual crops and perennial crops check out our garden tips page.

    February 25, 2010

    Free Garden Science Exploration Units

    Created with lessons from the K-5 Life Lab Science Curriculum and The Growing Classroom our Science Exploration Units are garden themed and aligned to the California State Science Standards.

    These units have 6 lessons each and are available as a PDF download or purchased as a set of four from our store

    Download the following units:

    To learn more about our curriculum visit our store

    February 23, 2010

    New Publications for Families and Pre-school Educators

    Our two new publications will help get families and wee-ones exploring the garden!

    Sowing the Seeds of Wonder - Discovering the Garden in Early Childhood Education
    Through hands-on activities preschool-age children will engage all of their senses as they discover the joys of gardening. Sowing the Seeds of Wonder is an educator guidebook that provides insight and lessons for educators to help students develop a lifelong connection to the outdoors. Lessons guide young students to dig into the soil; observe birds, insects, and other critters in the garden; and enjoy the tastes of fresh fruits and vegetables they plant, harvest, and prepare. Learn more at the Life Lab Store.

    Kids' Garden Activity Cards - 40 Fun Outdoor Activities and Games
    This boxed card set makes a great gift for any child or family ready to create and explore the garden. These activities come in a set of 40 beautifully illustrated double-sided activity cards. Activity themes include:
    • Exploring the Garden
    • Planting and Growing
    • Having Fun With Plants
    • Discovering Garden Critters
    • Creating Garden Art
    The box also includes a garden instruction leaflet providing tips for gardening with kids.  Read more and view table of contents.

    February 12, 2010

    Garden Classroom Spring Workshops

    Spring 2010 Offerings

    At the Life Lab Garden Classroom
    on the UC Santa Cruz Farm
    View more workshop details and learn how to bring a Life Lab Workshop to your site

    Sowing the Seeds of Wonder: Discovering the Garden in Early Childhood Education
    March 27, 2010
    This one-day workshop gives you the opportunity to see the garden through the eyes of a young child. Learn to set up a garden space to encourage children to explore, ask questions, and connect to the natural world. Learn activities to engage children’s curiosity and enthusiasm while introducing fundamental ideas in environmental science.

    The Growing Classroom: Introduction to Garden-Based Learning
    April 29-30, 2010 
    This two-day workshop is ideal for those interested in supplementing their existing science program with garden-based learning. Using The Growing Classroom activity guide for grades 2-6, you’ll experience hands-on activities, learn basic science concepts and gardening techniques, and develop management strategies for a school gardening program.

    Plant It, Grow It, Eat It: Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education 
    May 14, 2010 
    This one-day workshop will help you make the connection from seed to table. In a fun and delicious way, you will explore ways to teach nutrition to elementary and middle school students through gardening, harvesting, and meal preparation.

    • 1 semester credit of graduate education credit available for an additional $60/workshop day.
    • Life Lab is able to provide a limited amount of financial assistance for educators interested in attending our local workshops. Applications for financial assistance will be considered up to one month prior to each workshop, based on need.

    Bring a workshop to your school or community
    Of our workshop offerings listed above, any one can be specially crafted to fit the interests of your audience. Individualized quotes for workshops are available. More information.

    February 01, 2010

    Farm and Garden Educator Resources

    2010 Eco-Farm Bus Tour Resource Roundup
    This year's School Garden Bus Tour rolled straight into a stormy day of downpours and tornado warnings. After our first rainy stop at Carmel Middle School we continued on to mostly clear skies at Westlake Elementary, the Life Lab Garden Classroom and UCSC Farm, and ended at the Santa Cruz Green Careers High School.
    During the tour we discussed many resources that are useful for on farm and garden-based education.

    Here is a summary with links to the resources:
    • The Crop Rotation Game is a part of our Investigating Ag Field Trip where students are introduced to basic concepts of organic farming
    • Print a copy of the Investigating Ag field trip journal (4mb PDF)
    • Our field trip training manual has been developed to prepare our college intern field trip guides to lead 1st-5th graders on explorations of our farm
    • Here's a list and slideshow of many of the Life Lab Garden Classroom's educational elements
    • The Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden workshop resources are great for those starting a school garden or training others that are new to school gardening. They include videos, handouts, trainer outlines, a ppt presentation, and the downloadable book Gardens for Learning
    • The California Department of Education offers some great publications related to garden-enhanced nutrtion education
    • www.healthyschoolenvironment.org lists all the resources from the free Fresh Fruits and Vegetables a Centerpiece of a Healthy School Environment Training. Sign up for a spring training. View the CDE's Management Bulletin regarding using school garden grown produce.
    • The School Garden Promoter website is a new resource we have created that summarizes the work completed at the Fall 2009 School Garden Sustainability Summit and much more for school garden professionals
    • The California School Garden Network http://www.csgn.org/ is full of resources including a statewide event calendar - please post your events there
    • Subscribe to Life Lab's Garden-Based Learning Video Blog we recently posted 10 simple "Back Pocket" activities that will come in handy for any garden-based educator. We also have some great demonstrations of effective outdoor instruction
    We plan to share many more resources via this blog. You might want to consider subscribing via email in the left hand column.

    January 21, 2010

    "Back Pocket" Garden Activities

    Back Pocket Garden Activities (View all ten activities from this player, click the arrows)
    The following videos demonstrate what we, here at Life Lab, refer to as "back pocket activities." These are all quick, easy, and highly engaging activities that require minimal preparation. We suggest always having one or more of these activities ready to go (or "in your back pocket") in case your lesson ends a few minutes early, or you have a few kids to keep occupied while the others are finishing a task. From searching for the colors of the rainbow to making jewelry from flowers, the activities featured in these videos can be done again and again, with kids seeing and learning new things each time they do them.
    See more videos that we have created and that we find engaging at our Garden-Based Learning Video Page.

    January 14, 2010

    In Response to Caitlin Flanagan's Article

    In our responses to the editor of The Atlantic we ask that they publish The Garden,  A Master Teacher written by a Life Lab Camp parent Kristen Berhan. We encourage you to ask The Atlantic to do the same. Submit your comment to The Atlantic.

    Kristen writes:
    One of the complex questions I have been living is the question of education. This is a question that has grown within me from my own education in the public school system and now ripens as I have the stewardship of nurturing my own four daughters. For their sakes, I have waded through the war-zone of educational philosophies with the cross-fire so thick that I could not clearly see who was wrong or who was right. At last I came upon a place of peace, where Dewey, Montessori, Steiner, Mason, Rousseau and Froebel all seem to call a truce. I have found a place where public schoolers, home-schoolers, and private-schoolers can amicably co-exist. This higher-ground is in the garden. Read more...

    Life Lab Staff Letters to the Editor of The Atlantic
    Assistant Director John Fisher wrote:
    Long before Alice Waters gummed her first bite of solid food educational experts had been hailing the value of the garden as an instructional tool. 

    I will share their observations first: 

    Where schools are equipped with gardens ... opportunities exist for reproducing situations of life, and for acquiring and applying information and ideas in carrying forward of progressive experiences. .....they [gardens] are a means for making a study of the facts of growth, the chemistry of soil, the role of light, air, moisture, injurious and helpful animal life, etc. ...Instead of a subject belonging to a peculiar study called 'botany,' it will then belong to life, and will find, moreover, its natural correlation with the facts of soil, animal life, and human relations... - John Dewey, 1944, Educational reformer whose ideas have been very influential to education and social reform.

    When he [student] knows that the life of the plants that have been sown depends upon his care in watering them ... without which the little plant dries up, ... the child becomes vigilant, as one who is beginning to feel a mission in life. - Maria Montessori, 1912, her educational method is in use today in a number of public as well as private schools throughout the world.

    The pupil will get the clearest insight into the character of things, of nature and surroundings, if he sees and studies them in their natural connection ... the objects that are in closest and most constant connection with him, that owe their being to him ... these are the things of his nearest surroundings ... the garden, the farm, the meadow, the field, the forest, the plain ... Instruction should proceed from the nearest and known to the less near and less known. - Froebel, 1826, helped lay the foundation for modern education based on the recognition that children have unique needs and capabilities. He developed the concept of the “kindergarten”, and also coined the word now used in German and English.

    The garden furnishes abundance of subject matter for use in the composition, spelling, reading, arithmetic, geography, and history classes. A real bug found eating on the child's cabbage plant in his little garden will be taken up with a vengeance in his composition class. He would much prefer to spell the real, living radish in the garden than the lifeless radish in the book. He would much prefer to figure on the profit of the onions sold from his garden than those sold by some John Jones of Philadelphia. - George Washington Carver, an American scientist, botanist, educator and inventor whose studies and teaching revolutionized agriculture in the United States.

    And now for my own words.
    As a garden educator I have seen most of the documented experiences that school gardens provide. Kids begging their parents to serve them beets, an increase in student directed learning, and a better understanding of the basic elements that sustain us all (sun, soil, water, and air everything we eat and wear) are all common in a school garden. One experience I had stands out among all the others.

    I asked my group of third graders visiting the garden to go around and state their name and favorite fruit or veggie. We got to one child who said nothing and after a short pause the other students were quick to offer "Marco hasn't said a word at school yet... He's from Guatamala, he's only been here a month". This also explained the special aid that accompanied him.

    In the garden while the students were encountering the garden's lessons, more numerous than all the pages in their text books, Marco hadn't gone far. He was standing above a patch of strawberries, head hung low towards the dew covered leaves. I knelt down to his level, picked a berry and offered it to him with one word "fresa". A grin came across his face as he reached for the berry and replied in a tentative voice "fresa". Then together we said the word "strawberry". I looked up and saw his aid behind him with tears in her eyes.

    The author of Cultivating Failure, is well educated. I invite her to come for a lesson in Santa Cruz, CA and visit the some of the longest running school gardens in the country. I invite her to speak with the teachers, administrators, parents, and students who value gardens as instructional tools. I invite her to taste a soil born - sun sweetened - Alice Waters preaching - life changing - school garden grown strawberry.

    I ask The Atlantic to publish The Garden, A Master Teacher as an alternate view to what was documented in "Cultivating Failure". 
    - John Fisher, Assistant Director Life Lab Science Program

    Education Director Whitney Cohen wrote:
    Caitlin Flannigan’s “Cultivating Failure: How School Gardens are Cheating Our Most Vulnerable Students,” demonstrates a frighteningly limited understanding of both education in general, and the role of school gardens therein. A powerful school garden program is not, at its core, simply designed to grow new foodies. Rather, the best school gardens are used as an instructional tool, much like a science laboratory or a computer lab, in which academic learning comes alive.

    I taught for 5 years in a middle school where 69% of students were English language learners, and 74% were low income. When given a standard prompt from their textbooks, getting a paragraph out of many of my students was like pulling teeth. Upon returning to school, however, to reflect on a 3-day overnight field trip to a lighthouse and tide pool sanctuary, I could not get these same students to stop writing when the bell rang. They were writing because they had something to say. As a writer and former teacher herself, I would expect Flannigan to understand this fundamental concept in education: You cannot teach English and math effectively in a vacuum, devoid of meaningful content. School gardens, much like field trips to state parks or discovery museums, provide a meaningful context in which learning is brought to life. I taught a significant portion of my science classes in a school garden and other local habitats, engaging students in hands-on, project-based learning. My students’ scores on California's standardized science tests far exceeded the overall state average and were more than double the state average for schools with similar demographics.

    Like Flannigan, I am skeptical of educational reforms based on the whims or personal interests of influential celebrities and administrators, especially when the futures of our most vulnerable students are at stake. And yet, Flannigan is faulty in her assumption that school gardens are new and un-researched "fads." School garden programs have been a part of American education at least since World War One. In fact, in the early 1990s, prior to any high profile celebrity endorsements, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded the creation and national dissemination of Life Lab Science, a garden-based science curriculum. As this curriculum took hold, it became clear that the impacts on English language learners went beyond science learning and, in 1997-1998, a NSF-funded study measured statistically significant growth in students’ standardized test scores in English language proficiency, reading, and math in classrooms that utilized a garden as a context for learning English. Today the benefits of garden-enhanced learning are continuing to be researched and, in 2007, the Journal of the American Dietetics Association (JADA) documented the positive impact of school gardens on students’ attitudes toward and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

    Flannigan asks her readers: “What evidence do we have that participation in one of these programs—so enthusiastically supported, so uncritically championed—improves a child’s chances of doing well on the state tests that will determine his or her future?” I would ask Flannigan first to take into account all of the evidence that she omitted from her article, as it is not my impression that either the NSF nor JADA takes research-based evidence lightly when highlighting new “fads.” I would then ask her to consider a more fundamental question: Are there not factors beyond standardized test scores that might also impact these children’s futures? Would a high test score, for example, remedy a case of Type 2 diabetes or a planet that is no longer suitable for human habitation?

    School gardens certainly do not provide a comprehensive means of closing the achievement gap for all students in all schools. Research and personal experience, however, have convinced me that, in conjunction with other traditional and innovative educational practices, gardens provide one of many effective means of contextualizing academic learning, improving students’ nutritional habits, and helping them to understand the connection between human survival and the natural resources – soil, earthworms, water, etc. – upon which we depend: an understanding that may, in the years to come, prove to be more important than any other in determining these students' futures.
    - Whitney Cohen, Education Director Life Lab Science Program

    View Caitlan Flanagan's  Cultivating Failure: How School Gardens are Cheating Our Most Vulnerable Students published in The Atlantic.

    The folks at Cornell Garden-Based Learning have been collecting responses from across the nation to Mrs. Flanagan's article. See them here.

    January 06, 2010

    Top of the Class

    Life Lab's Executive Director Gail Harlamoff was recently interviewed for the following cover story of the GoodTimes.

    Top of the Class: Five UC Santa Cruz innovators break the creative mold with projects destined to make a positive difference

    ...Harlamoff dedicates herself to teaching people how to garden. A former fifth-grade science teacher, Harlamoff became disillusioned with the test- and textbook-driven method of teaching science. That all changed after her first Life Lab teachers workshop, where teachers are trained to use garden-based learning to teach science. “I became a believer immediately,” she remembers. “To me, science in this particular way of teaching is the great equalizer, because kids that may not excel in other areas would sometimes become the experts."

    Life Lab Science Program is neither run nor funded by the university. Rather, its affiliation with UCSC is more like a symbiotic relationship between two entities with similar values: the program, which turned 30 in 2009, started renting a plot adjacent to the UCSC farm on the school’s property in the early 1990s. More than 15,000 people visit its Garden Classroom each year on field trips, and it has around 30 UCSC students as interns at any given time... see the whole article

    December 31, 2009

    30th Anniversary Year In Review

    Our 30th year of brining learning to life in a garden was celebrated with many special events. Thanks to all who celebrated with us.

    Our School Garden Video Contest had 18 entries, see the winner here.

    Birthday Essay Series: The Garden: A Master Teacher was written by a Life Lab camp parent - a great accounts of the power of Garden-Based Learning.
    Garden-Based Learning Research Briefs are a great collection of research findings that support garden-based learning with introductions written by Life Lab's Education Director - Whitney Cohen.

    30th Birthday Party on May 30th, 2009 was a great affair. See the sights and sounds from our birthday party, including the cake so big it wouldn't fit out the door, in this video.
    The School Garden Open House featured 8 Santa Cruz Area School Gardens. About 130 participants visited Santa Cruz area school gardens during the open house.
    The School Garden Sustainability Summit took place on September 10-11, 2009 and included 35 school garden leaders from across the state. The summit focused on Regional Support Models for school gardening programs. A summary of summit discussions and resources will be shared via our website in the months to come. There are plans to have a follow-up summit next fall as part of the SF Green Schoolyard Conference in Fall of 2010.

    The blog you are reading now was created to document our 30 years of history. Videos, past press and momentus events have been included. Scroll down to 1978 and see how it all began.

    This past year local and national press and blogs have covered our birthday events. Here are a few:
    Cornell's Garden Based Learning
    Cal Ag In the Classroom
    Good Grub - Garden-Based Learning
    Garden ABC's
    Kids Garden News
    School Garden Weekly
    Santa Cruz Sentinel

    November 11, 2009

    Vermicompost Video

    We created this video for Healthy School Environment website and trainings. These free trainings are on farm to school concepts and take place across California in the spring and fall. Learn more at http://www.healthyschoolenvironment.org/

    Learn to compost with worms. Video goes over selecting a container, starting a worm bin, caring and troubleshooting.
    Worm Composting Basics http://www.compostsantacruzcounty.org/Home_Composting/Worm_Composting/index.htm
    The Worm Guide: Vermicomposting Guide for Teachers http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/schools/Curriculum/Worms/default.htm
    Additional Worm Composting Links http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/schools/Links/Garden.htm

    October 29, 2009

    "Food, What?!" Harvest Fest in the Sentinel

    The Santa Cruz Sentinel covered our largest youth Harvest Fest to date.

    The article "A field trip to chew on: teens run organic food festival"quotes this student participant:
    Lorraine Medina talks fast and waves her arms when you ask her about vegetables.

    "Chard and kale. I absolutely love them!" said the wide-eyed 17-year-old, pointing at the leafy cousins of beet and cabbage growing in a vegetable patch the size of a small swimming pool. "Kale is really, really good in stir-frys. And I never knew it existed!"
    In addition to 300 plus students participating newly hired Food Service Director of Santa Cruz City Schools, Jamie Smith was on hand to bake up wood fired pizzas made from "Food, What?!" youth grown veggies! See more at the "Food, What?!" Blog

    October 01, 2009

    Life Lab in Japan

    Our Friends from Keisen University in Toyko have visited Life Lab on a couple of occasions. This women's university has a keen interest in garden-based education. Their faculty attended a workshop in the Garden Classroom and they brought back almost every Life Lab publication to share with their colleagues and students.

    Shortly after their last visit this article was published in a popular culture magazine!

    September 21, 2009

    "Food, What?!" on National TV!

    Eco Company TV created this video on our "Food, What?!" Spring Afterschool Internship. It aired across the nation on over 100 TV stations.

    September 10, 2009

    Life Lab Honored by US Congress

    Congressman Sam Farr recognized Life Lab's 30 year of service to our community and the nation through a Congressional Record on September 10, 2009.

    He writes:
    ... Programs such as the Life Lab Garden Classroom, Waste Free Schools and the Monterey Bay Science Program serve to educate the youth of today about the importance of environmental sustainability and waste management. The Life Lab Science Program is a rare gem, teaching people of all ages about the unbreakable bond between humans and the beautiful environment in which we live. The efforts of Life Lab, and others like it, better our chances at some day achieving a sustainable future, in which all citizens truly appreciate the plentiful gifts we reap from the land. ... I know I speak for the entire House when I congratulate the Life Lab Science Program for its 30 years of commendable community service and extend our wishes for many more to come.
    - The Honorable Sam Farr, 17th District of California

    September 04, 2009

    Back to School with Gaia

    Life Lab's Education Director Whitney Cohen speaks with Lee Welles of Radio Gaia. Whitney discusses how she got involved with school gardens and power of garden based learning.

    Listen to the Back to School with Gaia episode here (Life Lab is featured about 5 minutes into the show).

    September 01, 2009

    Family Friendly Employer Award

    Life Lab was again recognized as an Honorable Mention for the United Way of Santa Cruz County's Family Friendly Employer Awards. This award recognizes employers who support employees in their roles as parents.

    A Family Friendly Employer:
    1.Benefits, policies and programs that promote employees quality of life and work/life balance
    2.Workplace cultures and climates that reflect family or employee centered beliefs
    3.Workplace relationships with supervisors and co-workers that are respectful of employee's work-family responsibilities
    4.Work processes, systems and practices that keep beneficial outcomes for both the organization and employees in the forefront

    See the Santa Cruz Sentinel Article

    August 02, 2009

    30th Anniversary Contest - Who is this Life Lab Intern?

    Win $25 in Free Seeds
    Early in the days of Life Lab their was a UCSC intern at Green Acres School who continued his gardening ways to create quite a successful business. Guess the name of this person and his business and win $25 in mixed garden seed.

    Use the form below to submit your answer.

    We will select the first three people who answer correctly.

    Currently Life Lab trains over 35 interns per year in garden-based learning, mentoring UCSC undergraduates to "bring learning to life in the garden". More on our intern program.

    If you were an intern who has continued to "bring learning to life" tell us about it below.

    August 01, 2009

    Leave us a Birthday Wish

    Are you past Life Lab Student, Teacher, Intern, or Staff?
    Do you have any great memories or stories to tell?

    Tell us about your experience with Life Lab and when/where you were involved.

    We like good stories so feel free to share:-)

    Share your story here (it is easy no login/registration or anything, just click and share your thoughts)

    Return to Life Lab's Birthday Page

    May 30, 2009

    Birthday Party in the Garden Classroom

    Our 30th Birthday Party was celebrated in The Garden Classroom with over 450 people enjoying garden crafts, strawberry tarts, chickens, goats, fresh squeezed lemonade, The Banana Slug String Band, garden fresh pizza, honey tasting, and of course a huge birthday cake. Check out the video.

    May 15, 2009

    Life Lab Video Contest Winner

    As part of our 30th Birthday we hosted a video contest. The theme of the contest was "How does the garden help you grow?" See more information, runner ups and link to all the entries here: www.lifelab.org/contest.php
    Here is the winning video:

    First Prize Winner: Growing in the Garden - The Orchard School
    We liked the rhythm and rhyme and sights and sounds of their poetic production. Not your average school garden but looks real fun.
    $400 ($300 in garden supplies and $100 cash for the creator of the video)

    January 01, 2009

    1979-2009 ~ Life Lab Turns 30

    For 30 years Life Lab Science Program has been helping students and educators "Watch learning come to life in a garden".

    Life Lab has trained tens of thousands of educators in over 40 states.

    We have directly served over 35,000 students in garden-based science, nutrition and environmental education at our Garden Classroom site.

    Life Lab has sold over 100,000 copies of its curriculum and activity guides.

    View our 2007-2008 Annual Report to learn about our recent accomplishments.

    A leader of the garden-based learning movement!

    Donate to support Life Lab Science Program, we like birthday gifts:-)

    October 28, 2008

    "Food, What?!" Harvest Fest on KSBW News

    KSBW TV News was on hand at our 2008 Harvest Fest that served hundreds of Middle and High School Students from Santa Cruz County. Check out their news report and how the reporters were trying to get the right inflection on the words "FOOOOD.....WHHAT!!!??!!!"

    See festival highlights below taken from the "Food, What?!" Blog

    June 05, 2008

    Garden-Based Learning Videos

    We recenlty completed a video project highlighting Effective Outdoor Management. In addition to the 8 videos we shot of stellar Santa Cruz Garden Instructors we also created a 4 page handout on Effective Outdoor Management. This document lists tips and ideas for those working with students in an outdoor setting.

    The Garden-Based Learning Video site has turned in to a collection of web-based videos related to garden-based learning, school gardens, and garden-based nutrition.

    May 31, 2008

    "Food, What?!" Strawberry Blast

    Taken from the Santa Cruz Sentinel Article "County students dig in at 'Strawberry Blast"":
    Nearly 100 students from across the county traveled to the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden Friday to learn about the social benefits and epicurean delights of fresh, organic and locally grown food.
    Santa Cruz City school kids make smoothies with strawberries they just picked from field at UCSC's Farm project.
    And, of course, to enjoy a delicious strawberry smoothie.
    The Strawberry Blast, organized by "Food What?," part of the nonprofit Life Lab Science Program aimed at youth, and the Santa Cruz City Schools Wellness Committee, allowed the students to harvest their own berries, make smoothies and learn about the process that brings food from farm to table.

    See more from the Blast on the "Food, What?!" Blog

    May 01, 2008

    Life Lab in the News - 1978-2008

    Over years Life Lab has been featured in a plethora of publications. Browse the blog postings labeled Press for press generated from 2008 and beyond. For documentation of press between 1978-2008 check out our article archive on the sidebar of this page.

    April 22, 2007

    2007 ~ Food, What?! ~ A Youth Empowerment Program

    From the early days of the Garden Classroom there were always visions of offering programming for teens. "Food, What?!" has fulfilled that vision:
    "FOOD, WHAT?!" is a youth empowerment program using food, through sustainable agriculture and health, as the vehicle for bringing about personal growth and transformation. We partner with teenage youth to grow, cook, eat and distribute healthy sustainably raised food. These revolutionary acts serve to empower youth to realize their full potentials, to enjoy life, and serve as grounds for hard skill and leadership development.

    See photos, videos of events, and posts of what we are up to at http://www.foodwhatblog.blogspot.com/

    In the Fall of 2008 News Channel 8 KSBW covered the "Food, What?!" Fall Harvest Festival, see the video: www.ksbw.com/video/17843746/index.html

    From 2007-2008 1,000 teens from our region and across the nation have participated in "Food, What?!" programming.

    January 23, 2007

    2007 ~ The Growing Classroom New Edition!

    This new edition of The Growing Classroom is pulished by our friends at the National Gardening Association and help to bring a fresh look and needed revisions to one of the be garden-based learning publications in print.

    February 24, 2006

    2006 ~ Garden Classroom Selected as CDE Regional Training Center

    In collaboration with the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems the Garden Classroom is selected to serve as the Central Coast Garden-Based Learning Resource Center. The resource center provides free workshops and consulting to school garden programs in our region. From 2006-2009 we have worked with over 750 educators and worked onsite at over 15 schools.

    December 25, 2001

    2001 ~ Field to Market to You

    New Leaf Community Markets and Life Lab team up to create a new program called Field-To-Market-To-You. For three years this food systems education program visited classrooms and followed up with a field trip to a grocery store. Students learned about local agricultural history, responsible consumerism, label reading and healthy food choices, and the origins of food.

    December 27, 2000

    2000 ~ The Garden Classroom: Life Lab's Model Educational Garden

    In 2000 construction begins for the latest chapter in Life Lab's history. In collaboration with the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) The Garden Classroom annually serves thousands of pre-schoolers through adults in garden-based learning and nutrition education. In 2002 the first full year of programming hosts spring and fall field trips, summer day camps, afterschool and weekend community programs and teacher workshops.

    Garden Classroom Creation. Double click for album view.

    Life Lab Garden Classroom 2004 from Life LabVimeo.
    on In 2004 UCSC Undergraduate Intern Yoel Kirschner created this video which documents Life Lab Garden Classroom activities with interviews from interns, educators and students.

    Life Lab Garden Classroom Summer Fair 2003Life Lab on Vimeo. News Channel 46 KION covers the 2003 Summer Fair in the Garden Classroom. Sound is a bit funky.

    Scheduled Garden Classroom programming began in 2001. From 2001-2009 over 35,000 students have been served in scheduled programming.

    During this time over 230 interns have been trained to use the garden and farm to teach environmental science, garden-based nutrition, and effective outdoor education pedagogy.

    Annually, approximately 150 educators partake in Garden Classroom Educator Workshops learning topics ranging from garden-based nutrition to inquiry science methods.

    December 26, 2000

    2000 ~ The Monterey Bay Science Project

    The National Science Foundation Grant which funded the Language Acquisition in Science Education at Rural Schools comes to and end but LASERS continues to thrive through the Monterey Bay Science Project (MBSP). Life Lab becomes a MBSP host site and receives funding through the California State Science Project, the UC Office of the President, and state education funds. MBSP uses innovative approaches to train science educators.

    MBSP continues the LASERS model and additionally trains educators via science institutes, an annual conference, and peer coaching.

    LASERS Program 2001 from Life Lab on Vimeo.

    Since 1997 the MBSP Regional Science Conference has served approximately 200 educators annually providing science , interdisciplinary content, and garden-based learning topics.

    December 29, 1997

    1997 ~ A Garden in Every School

    Delaine Eastin the Superintendent of Public Instruction of California Schools declares there should be a garden in every school. Life Lab attends the Garden in Every School Conference.

    Life Lab writes Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens which is published by the Center for Ecoliteracy. This publication is distributed via the California Department of Education's school garden start up packet to 10s of thousands of educators.

    In 1998 the California Department of Education contracts Life Lab to teach Getting Started Workshops across the state. Additionally Life Lab moves forward with a plan to build at model educational garden. The Garden Classroom is dedicated and fundraising begins.

    December 28, 1997

    1997 ~ Resource Conservation Program - Waste Free Schools

    Life Lab teams up with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, the County of Santa Cruz and the City of Santa Cruz, Waste Management and Ecology Action to create the Resource Conservation Project (later known as Waste Free Schools). Life Lab works with students, teachers and other school staff to encourage waste reduction through composting, recycling and other means. This program helps to reduce 3,500 tons of trash per year saving schools $65,000 annually.

    In a typical year the Waste Free School Program conducts assemblies and in-class presentations that reach over 8,000 students per year.