Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Sustaining Your School Garden

Sustaining Your School Garden – Taken from The Life Lab Garden Times, Spring 2002

Most people connected to schools realize that change is a given. Administrators, staff, teachers, parents and students eventually move on. This can be a challenge for maintaining and sustaining a school garden project over time, particularly if the garden is the special project of just a few people. At Life Lab, we have worked with many schools who have made the Life Lab garden key part of the school over many years, and others where the gardens have come and gone. Generally, gardens that are successful involve the entire school community. Here are some tips to keep your garden program thriving for the long haul.

Form a steering committee for the garden program. This committee will help make short- and long-range plans for the garden, to ensure that it is properly funded, maintained and used by the school community. The steering committee should be made up of teachers, parents, administrators, students and staff. Getting the school custodian to join is a big plus. The steering committee should hold regular meetings throughout the year.

Develop a vision for your school garden. What ultimately do you want it to be? What is its purpose? How will it connect to curriculum? How will it be used daily by students and staff? What will it look like in 3-5 years? How will you get there? Share this vision with the school community and begin to plan out the steps for achieving it.

Encourage a team of parents to participate as volunteers. Recruit parents of younger children who will stay in the school for several years. Volunteers can help teachers gather materials and teach garden lessons in small groups. They can also assist with general garden maintenance, fundraising and ordering supplies.

Inform the school community about the value of the garden. Hold celebrations, volunteer recognition parties and other events in the garden frequently. This gives the teachers a valuable opportunity to showcase student work inspired by the living laboratory of the school garden. Be sure to invite school board members and local politicians.

View resources for starting a school garden.

Oh yeah and money can't hurt either. View the Fund tab at www.csgn.org for funding ideas.

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Doron Comerchero, founder and director of FoodWhat?!, will interview Chadwick Garden manager Orin Martin tonight (Wednesday, July 12) on the FoodSpeaks show, 7-7:45 pm on KZSC, 88.1. Call with your comments and questions at 831-459-4036. Streaming: www.kzsc.org/listen/

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Having a great time in Portland, OR. Life Lab's John Fisher is presenting at the International Master Gardens Conference and the AHS National Children & Youth Gardening Symposium. Sharing and learning with 1,500+ garden educators.
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30 educators from across the country shared the power of garden-based learning. Mindfulness in the garden, transplanting with kids, bed prep, and bringing learning to life in the garden were just a few of the topics covered over the two days. Our next workshop is on Outdoor Classroom and Garden Program Management July 27th. ... See MoreSee Less

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Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside

Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.

Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps

Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.

Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary

Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.

Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom

Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.