Life Lab

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

It is not often that we have graduate level interns, who have classroom experience, and are proficient with a video camera and editing. We lucked out! Callia Wolfe shares a bit about her path to finding us and her experience at the Garden Classroom. Callia writes….

I have heard it called many things: destiny, kismet, serendipity. All terms referring to the moment when your path opens, you can feel a "yes" in your body and your intuition rings clear like a bell. Finding the education department at Antioch University New England in Keene, NH was one of those “yes” moments. I knew the school's progressive flavor and commitment to a sustainable world would support a student like me with my vision, passion and ambition to bring positive change to the world. In August, 2010, I began the path toward earning my Master’s in Education with teaching licensure, concentrating on science and environmental education. My original vision was simply to use the garden to teach kids and have my hands in the earth. My understanding of the multitude of levels that are supported when learning from real-life, outdoors and hands-on experience has grown significantly from my fantastic internship experiences. I have seen and been a part of the transformative effect the garden has on kids, the school, the community, and the earth.

My first internship was in a fourth grade classroom in a ‘failing’ Title I school in Brattleboro, VT. I was lucky enough to intern with a dynamic, committed, eight- year teacher, Laura White. About three years into her teaching career, she spearheaded the installation and use of the school garden for planting, harvesting, nutrition education, cooking and more. She also created a year long, place-based natural resource unit that aligned with state standards while connecting students to 10 local farms through field trips. The students celebrated the culmination of the unit by cooking a dinner made from local farm foods for 200 people in their community. Laura also brought in school-wide farm-to-school taste tests so that students could taste and decide on what they wanted served in their school lunches. The fact that 97% of K-6th graders tried the local roasted turnip was one of the many triumphs.

Watching all this happen, it became clear to me that it takes a community. None of these visions would have been possible without the generous support of parents, administrators, cafeteria staff, farmers, and local businesses. Though Vermont is known for supporting it’s local farmers, I have no doubt that this support for local food systems through education could be replicated anywhere in the country. Green Street School is proof that even amongst the rising pressure for passing scores and endless testing, it can be done. The following link connects to a video of the introduction for the 2011 the local dinner.

For my second internship and final semester at a distance, I wanted to get to the heart of the school garden movement in the non-profit world. In my research I discovered that, while many people believe the school garden movement really took off in 1996 with the Edible Schoolyard, Life Lab has been busy creating curriculum, installing gardens, training teachers nationwide, and more since 1979! I was so excited to have found the authority in this field and to see that they are still active and leading the crest of the school garden wave in curriculum, nutrition education, science, youth empowerment and more! With over 30 years of experience, they know what works and what doesn’t better than anyone. I felt that clear "yes" once again after connecting to Life Lab, and decided to make the 3,436 mile drive to Santa Cruz. Another factor in my decision was Life Lab’s outstanding reputation. The feedback I get from everyone who has worked with Life Lab is always the same. I see the same huge smiles and eager exclamations, “I LOVE LIFE LAB!” After three months here, I understand the enthusiasm completely. It is truly a gift to work with people who are generous, humble, and passionate about what they do. My time here as an intern has been a rich, joyful, and delicious experience.

I will leave in late December with skills and experience teaching in the outdoor classroom that can easily translate to any school or farm. I know how to create and manage a garden and students in an outdoor space. I can create lessons across all subject areas in the garden and activities that are hands-on, engaging, safe, effective and memorable. If I forget or need a refresher, I have Life Lab’s super easy to use curriculum resources like The Growing Classroom to remind me. Whether I end up as a classroom teacher or in the non-profit world, I feel incredibly well prepared and capable of supporting the school garden movement in this country. Thank you Life Lab! I raise my glass of fresh-pressed organic apple juice to you all!

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4 days ago

Life Lab

We have a few spots still open for our 4-6 years old camp T/TH camp. Tell your friends.Calling all 4-6 year olds! We have openings in our T/Th Garden Sprouts Day Camp www.lifelab.org/camp This is a great first day camp experience! See MoreSee Less

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5 days ago

Life Lab

A reminder to vote for Life Lab when you shop at New Leaf (there are paper ballots in the stores) to continue to be an EnviroToken recipient! We have been so grateful for this support from New Leaf Community Markets! Voting closes June 30th, and you can vote EVERY time you go to the store!Help select your store’s Envirotoken partners! For every reusable grocery bag you use at New Leaf, we give you a 10¢ Envirotoken to donate to one of six local nonprofits. Visit your neighborhood store between now and June 30 to cast your vote for which non-profits will receive this year’s donations. Thanks for helping us give back to our local communities! See MoreSee Less

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7 days ago

Life Lab

Happy Monday!

#lifelab #gardeneducation #chickens #chickensofinstagram See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Thanks to our volunteer carpenter Michael for the beautiful new planters.

Have you visited the life lab garden lately? Come check out what’s new. The garden is open to the public sunrise to sunset daily!

#lifelab #gardeneducation #welovevolunteers See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

We are so grateful to be a current EnviroToken recipient at New Leaf’s Westside location–AND we are on the ballot AGAIN for the next round! Be sure to go into any store location and cast your paper ballot for Life Lab! This support makes a big impact on our ability to grow healthy, inspired children across Santa Cruz County & beyond. Thank you, New Leaf Community Markets!Happy Earth Month! Our Envirotoken program turns 25 this year, and we owe a HUGE thank you to all of our amazing customers for your support over the years. Founded in 1993, together we’ve kept 7 million bags out of landfills and raised over $700,000 for local non-profits! See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Calling all 4-6 year olds! We have openings in our T/Th Garden Sprouts Day Camp www.lifelab.org/camp This is a great first day camp experience! See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Less than 3 weeks until our Benefit Brunch! Hope you can join us!

Here’s a taste of the kind of inspiration you’ll get at our Brunch. Whitney Cohen, our Education Director, gave this speech at our 2014 Benefit Brunch–totally worth 8 minutes of your time to watch this! Whitney is gearing up to give a brand new speech at our upcoming event–you won’t want to miss it!
youtu.be/hre1kPWel0A

Registration at: www.lifelab.org/brunchLife Lab Education Director eloquently shares why our work matters to 150 guest at our 2014 Benefit Brunch. www.lifelab.org See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

In 2009, a group of teachers from Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Elementary School in Jonesboro, Arkansas came to Life Lab. A year later, we visited them to lead two workshops for their staff (side note: this was also my first experience with okra, sweet tea, and flying in a biplane flown by Garden Teacher Melinda’s son). Now nine years, 3 courtyard gardens, 1 kitchen, and countless gardening and cooking classes later, Melinda and Sherri are back at Life Lab! What a treat to reconnect and hear about the amazing work they and their team have accomplished in their school! See MoreSee Less

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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