Life Lab

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

Top Ten Contest

We have been collecting your stories, quotes, and phrases that demonstrate why farm- or garden-based education is important.

And the Top Ten stories, quotes, and phrases that demonstrate why farm- or garden-based education is important….

Have you ever heard anyone say to a group of students, "stop eating the spinach. No more spinach for this class" I am fortunate to say this often at the Princeton Day School in NJ. We grow delicious sweet spinach in the winter months under cold frames. I say the same thing in early spring when our baby red russian kale is ready to pick. I smile and giggle to myself every time I say it! – Pam Flory

While making paper from newspaper, rice water, and materials collected from our garden, a third grade Hearst Elementary student observed, "I’ve heard that there is art in science. Now I see that there is science in art." I teach in the garden, with the garden, because it is a place where children influence outcomes, make connections, see the world whole. – Pam LaCourse

We had just started our 1st school garden and it was time to count and pick tomatoes. After my demonstration I motioned for one student to pick a cherry tomato off the plant and pop it in his mouth, to which he replied, "I can eat this?" He has only seen them grouped together in a conical plastic shape at the local grocery store! – Beth Ann Thornhill

I was doing the Seed Sort lesson with my kindergartners. Lots of kids sorted by color, some by size or shape. When I came to Adour, she had very unusual groupings. She explained them all to me in detail, "These are the seeds that my grandma uses when she makes rice and peas; these are the things that goes into the soup she makes; these ones come from fruit I like, and these ones are just seeds!" Garden-based education is the best because it has the power to surprise and amaze–and allow us to see prior knowledge our students have that we might never have uncovered. – Sarah O’Leary

“in every seed lives a tiny little plant waiting to come out and grow into a big plant with vegetables that have seeds inside them to make more plants and more vegetables.” – Gardening Yogini

Learning to plant a seed and reaping the benefits to sustain one life is like "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but teach a man how to fish and he will be fed for a lifetime". – Connie Gerow

While teaching tenth grade biology (in rural Oklahoma, no less), we were near the end of our unit on plants and one of my sophomores got all excited—"I know why we have to cut the grass! I know why we have to put water in flower vases! PLANTS ARE ALIVE!" I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. – Shelley Mitchell

I teach an after school gardening enrichment class at Haldane Elementary School in Cold Spring, NY. This is a quote from one of my students' moms: She said, "He likes gardening class a lot. Told us we don't have to pack his snack because they ate leaves." – Sandy McKelvey

After reading Tops, Bottoms and Middles to my 2nd grade class and discussing the way some vegetables grow above the ground and some below, one of my students chimed up that she knew how to make carrots-a "bottom" vegetable into a top vegetable- just plant the seed upside down she announced triumphantly! – Renee Rose

Quote by Santa Cruz Montessori Middle School students about their studies at Live Earth Farm. "Field Studies is all about being unafraid to become grimy and healthily coated in dirt, and performing the tasks necessary to sustain the crops and animals of the farm. Field studies generally works the hardest, whether it be double-digging crops or building a cob oven, it seems that field studies never gets a chance to catch its breath. The students participating in field studies have an allotted chore, (tending to the chickens, goats, greenhouse, sheep, etc.) which is always their first task of the day. Overall, there is no way one could learn about how a farm works without working in with field studies." – Jessica Ridgeway

While looking at our garden full of vegetables at home, my youngest child said "Mamma we won’t ever have to go to Safeway again". If only our garden could look like summer all year round! – Fiona Alms

In addition to working as the school garden instructor at my local school, I also pick up a few hours here and there tutoring at homework club. This means I spend the afternoon weeding, then jump into helping kids reduce fractions still in my garden boots. I had just pulled up some giant carrots that had overwintered in the garden and decided to cut them up and serve them as the after school snack (garden based nutrition in action!!). One of my students, rushing down the hall to get her things together asks "Are those carrots for snack? I don't like carrots." But then, she pauses and in the same breath turns and continues, "Wait, are they from our garden? I only like carrots from our school garden!" Not sure how this helps at the dinner table at home, but glad our school garden veggies at least are a favorite! – Julie Swank

Yes, we know there are 12 not 10, but there were many ties in the voting. We hope you enjoyed these little stories. View all 20+ entires in the comments below and on our Facebook page.

The top three from our top ten list will win a copy of our award winning Kids' Garden Activity Cards or The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids. All comments selected as our top ten will win a selection of 12 garden seed packets compliments of Renee's Garden Seed.



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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
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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