Life Lab

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

School-Wide Compost Systems

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Gault Elementary in Santa Cruz, CA has a compost system that includes vermicomposting and bin composting. The vermicompost is used for composting food scraps from nutrition education tasting activities in the garden and food scraps from the three kindergarten classrooms' snack scraps. There are two composting bins and a tumbler, which are used to compost the school lunch waste and cafeteria waste three days per week. Children collect buckets from lunch area and bring the food scraps in a wagon to the garden where they dump the bucket into the compost bin and add an equal amount of a carbon source (dry leaves or straw) and a scoop of dirt to introduce microbes. Lunch supervisors monitor the buckets during lunch time. The finished compost is then applied to the school garden at Gualt Elementary.

Westlake Elementary in Santa Cruz, CA has great educational composts in their school garden. The worm bin is used for food scraps that are generated during tastings at the garden classroom. The pile is used to recycle plant material from the garden and turned occasionally by students when led in a compost demonstration. The compost is then applied to the garden beds.

Upper Valley Farm to School Network, a small non-profit in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire, recaps a school compost tour they gave to garden educators on this page. The tour visited three elementary schools and each school had a different composting system that met different composting needs. Great examples!

The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District in Northeast Ohio presents four case studies of different composting systems including tumbler compost bins, compost digesters, worm bins, and constructing compost bins from reused materials. Each school has a different compost system and different tips that help you keep your compost healthy. Read about four compost case studies here!

Quabbin Regional High School in Hubbardston, MA has volunteer students who help monitor lunch food scrap collection and move that contents to the compost. With a large two bin system the school can produce 150 cubic feet of compost a year. Read here for more details on Quabbin's compost!

Kinard Middle School In Fort Collins, CO composts cafeteria scraps through vermicomposting and heat composting. Vermicomposting is done at the school and heat composting is sent off site. Watch the video to see how it works!

Crawford High School in San Diego, CA has a composting program which pays interns to help in the garden. They compost food scraps from the cafeteria in the garden compost and sell the finished product.

Groton Central School in Groton, NY has a student initiated compost program that puts food scraps from the cafeteria into a multi-bin compost design. Watch the video to see how the 8th grade wood shop constructed this system and have reduced food waste going to landfills.


Please share about your school's compost system in the comments section below!

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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