Life Lab

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

The Ultimate School Composting Resource Page

This post is part of our Sustaining School Gardens series.

Attention school gardeners: A summary of nearly 70 responses to a school compost survey are described on this blog page. Check it out to see how compost functions in schools! The survey is still open and we would love to hear about your school compost.

Life Lab has searched the around for the finest school composting resources, which describe every step needed to begin and maintain a successful compost system at your school. Whether you are attempting to cut your school districts food waste by using municipal composting facilities, adding a compost bin to your school garden, or looking for compost curriculum these pages are for you!

School Wide Composting Programs

District Wide Composting Programs

Lessons and Curriculum

Composting Manuals and Resources

A variety of composting and vermicomposting resources can be found at CalRecycle. The resources cover topics in the science of composting, starting a compost pile, and how to incorporate composting into the classroom.

This school composting slide show describes all the logistics needed to start a compost system at your school, talks about how to start the compost, the collection of food wastes on campus, and school compost maintenance.

View Breaking it Down: School Composting Made Easy with FoodCorps Webinar. Access many more school compost resources related to the webinare in’s Growing School Garden Community (free to join).

The Northeast Recycling Council created a guide to school composting options. It details what systems work for different types of schools and has tips for different stages of the compost process. This resource also provides information on different bins capacities to decompose food scraps.

Want to compost your school cafeteria lunch scraps? Here is a 98 page compost manual made by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that shows the steps to establish and maintain a successful school-wide composting program.

This two page manual created by Davis RISE program describes the steps needed to incorporate a vermicomposting or composting system into your school.

Post this basic compost recipe near your school compost as a reminder to the kids what ingredients are needed to make a healthy compost. Click here for a general compost recipe.

What’s wrong with my compost? Here is a guide from Cornell to help diagnose your compost.

Vermicomposting Examples

Life Lab’s Worm Composting resources and videos

The Worm Guide is available from CalRecycle for download. The guide describes how food scraps are transformed into nutrient rich vermicompost and has a variety of interdisciplinary classroom activities.

This vermicomposting video created by Life Lab shows the different options educators have to build a worm bin, it also describes the capacity of different worm bins to convert food scraps, and how to make a vermicompost bin from scratch. This video also includes how to harvest worm castings and how to maintain a worm bin.

Bin Examples

View Life Lab’s school compost photo gallery click on compost.

Cornell Waste Management Institute created a booklet filled with compost designs. It includes what materials you need and instructions to construct the design. Click here to view 10 different compost designts!

Growing Gardens from Garbage sells insulated compost bins for cold weather composting and describes how to build an insulated compost bin.

Follow Life Lab’s board Compost Area Images on Pinterest.

Share your school compost manuals and bin designs below!

These school composting pages were compiled as a senior project for the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California Santa Cruz by Savannah Rugg a senior intern with Life Lab.

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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