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 for funding ideas.

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Teaching a Growing Classroom Workshop at @OakSpringGardenFoundation in collaboration with I feel like I’ve fallen into a small French village. This is the former estate of Paul and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in Virginia. Mrs. Mellon was an avid horticulturalist who designed the White House Rose Garden! I am staying in the room where Jackie Kennedy stayed when she visited here!! Sharing a weekend in this space with teachers who love kids and gardens is a truly unforgettable experience. ... See MoreSee Less

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Just when I thought we’d seen it all ... this is an agrophotovoltaic school garden underneath massive solar panels at @Manzo.Ecology in Tucson. The elementary school students here gather and analyze data on how the shade from the panels helps the plants grow and how the plants help cool the panels and increase their efficiency. What?!?! It’s amazing and gives me hope. Oh, and also they have a desert tortoise in their courtyard. ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program at their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
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What happens when Whole Kids Foundation partners with you to bring 50+ leaders from School Garden Support Organizations from across the country together to get to talk shop, inspire each other, problem-solve around shared challenges, and eat amazing food prepared and served by happy 5th graders? MAGIC. That's what happens. #sgso2018 ... See MoreSee Less

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Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
... See MoreSee Less

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We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.


#beapartofit, #startingstrong, #changinglives, #isupportlifelab
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Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
#beapartofit, #changinglives, #optoutside, #gardenbasededucation, #happynewyear
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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.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
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.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
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.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom