Life Lab

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

Our Garden Classroom

In 1998, Life Lab Science Program began dreaming about creating an outdoor learning center where people could experience garden-based education.  After much planning, research and design, construction began in April of 2001. Life Lab along with the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems co-manage the two-acre Garden Classroom. The Garden Classroom which is located on the UCSC CASFS Farm overlooking the Monterey Bay. Come visit!

Life Lab Garden Classroom Map and Scavenger Hunt

Download Garden Classroom Map and Guide

Download Garden Classroom Educational Elements which lists resources and ideas to replicate in your educational garden. View as a text document with live links.


Garden Classroom Tri-fold Brochure

Programs in the Garden Classroom
 What You’ll Find in The Garden Classroom
  • The Rot Zone: A compost demonstration area featuring over ten different composting and vermicomposting structures
  • A chicken coop with laying hens view our chicken cam  view our coop design
  • Birds, Bats, Bees, Butterflies and Beyond: A wildlife habitat featuring bird blind, plant tunnel, native plants, nectary, solar powered bird bath, many feeders, bat house bird viewing station, hawk perch, bird houses and herb bed
  • Pollination garden which features annual and perennial plants
  • Observational Bee Hive
  • Tropical/Dry Comparison Beds which feature plants with different adaptations for their environment
  • A mini bog environment which hosts a hoard of carnivorous plants
  • Central Spiral with plant petting zoo that features touchable plants of many textures and scents
  • Tea beds full of harvestable teas and herbs
  • Cut flower bed
  • Native plant meadow
  • Freshwater Pond featuring aquatic plants & waterfall
  • Tool shed and storage area
  • Sculpture, mosaic and other art projects in the garden
  • Weather station
  • Fruiting trees, shrubs, and vines
  • Root view box
  • Pizza bed
  • Track Trail: wildlife footprints tell stories in the concrete pathways
  • Recycled and salvaged materials used throughout demonstrate creative reuse
  • A Human Sundial
  • An Outdoor Garden Kitchen with Cob and Solar Ovens
  • Agricultural History Timeline
  • Vegetable row crop field for growing food crops
  • Benches for picnicking
  • A musical tree
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    It’s a wonderful thing that this kind of classroom was being implemented and being introduced to those students who wanted to learn something in there. It’s a good technique actually that they did for their students.

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Unlike many of the garden-based learning books out there this free and beautiful publication explores the philosophical underpinnings of garden-based education. Read on... ... See MoreSee Less

Thanks for all the great feedback about Teaching in Nature's Classroom! Here's what Whitney Cohen of Life Lab has to say about the book. Want your very own copy? Click here to download or order your FREE paperback:

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Thanks to the 35 educators who joined us for two great days in Santa Cruz visiting some of the best Life Lab school gardens in the nation (Bonny Doon, Westlake, Gault and Pacific School); eating at Pacifc School's FoodLab -the best school meal program in the world; and a Plant it, Grow it, Eat it Workshop. Happy #f2smonth, keep cultivating children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education! ... See MoreSee Less

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Hope to see you all out on Saturday for this year's Hard Core Cider Tour! A portion of proceeds from this fun event will benefit Life Lab. ... See MoreSee Less

Hard Core Cider Tour - Santa Cruz

October 8, 2016, 1:00pm - October 8, 2016, 6:00pm

San Lorenzo Park in Santa Cruz

The Hard Core Cider Tour returns to Santa Cruz, CA for its 2nd year! Imbibe UNLIMITED 2 oz. samples from some of the World's Top Craft Hard Cider Makers, savor mouth watering food from Local Food Trucks (food sold separately), groove to Live Music, and let your inner kid out with our Jumbo Lawn Games! This year, we are raising funds for Life Lab. Our mission is to celebrate the revival of craft hard cider making. As one of America’s long lost alcoholic beverages, we strive to reintroduce the joy of imbibing hard cider to all! CIDERS: 101 Cider House, Schilling Cider, Aspall, Santa Cruz Cider Company, Finnriver, The San Francisco Mead Company, South City Ciderworks, Surf City Cider, Rambling Route Cider, Tieton Cider Works, Two Rivers Cider Company, William's Orchards, Everett Family Farm, Ratel Cider, Humboldt Cider Company, WILDCIDE Hard Cider, Far West Cider Co, Red Branch Cider Company, E.Z. Orchards Farm Market, Indigeny Reserve MUSIC LINEUP: Olde Blue FOOD TRUCKS: The Choke Coach and Ate3one SPONSORS: Good Times Santa Cruz, UpOut SF, Santa Cruz Waves TICKETS: * General Admission: ~$40 Online / $50 At The Door * General Admission - Group Rate (4+ Tickets): ~ $30 Online / $40 At The Door * Designated Driver: ~ $10 (Available for purchase At The Door Only) TICKET ADMISSION INCLUDES: * UNLIMITED 2 oz. Tastings * Signature Keepsake Mason Jar * Unlimited Selfies & Goodtimes … #hardcorecidertour This is strictly at 21 and Over event. * * * * * Remember to Please Imbibe Responsibly * * * * *

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We walked around and took photos of some of the other awesome sustainability orgs who were under the Sustainability Tent with us at OPERS Fest this year.

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Another great workshop with San Mateo County Educators. Thanks Heal Project sharing the power of garden-based learning. ... See MoreSee Less

Great training this weekend at the San Mateo County School Farm hosted by Life Lab! Always inspiring to connect with folks dedicated to farm and garden based education

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Rachel Pringle

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 Curry

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 Bricken

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 Neier

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.