Life Lab

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

California School Garden Training Program Mini-Grants

Mini-Grants to replicate the CSYSG training across the state have been awarded to the following organizations. To search upcoming workshops across California visit the California School Garden Network's event calendar.

View list of Mini-Grant funded Organizations on the bottom of this map: 2012-2013 CSYSG Proposed Locations.


CSYSG Trainer Materials

The Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden (CSYSG) Mini-Grant Program was established by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to support the statewide training efforts of organizations that have participated in the Creating and Sustaining School Gardens Trainers’ Workshops.  The purpose of the program is to increase the availability of comprehensive, affordable training for new school garden programs, with the goal of providing CSYSG content to over 450 people representing 100 schools across California.



Content below is informational only:

Download Mini-Grant information sheet and a copy of application questions. Applications must be submitted on line at the links below.

Mini-Grant applications will be processed and reviewed by the facilitators of the CSYSG Train the Trainers (3T) workshop you attended. Click on the 3T workshop location you attended to apply for a Mini-Grant:


  • Santa Cruz or Hayward Mini Grant Application
    questions? contact Whitney Cohen, 831-459-3833,

  • Davis or Modesto Mini Grant Application
    questions? contact Jane Pickney,

  • Los Angeles or San Diego Mini Grant Application
    questions? contact Russel Levan, 760-802-5690,


Mini-Grant Eligibility
Individuals and organizations that attended the CSYSG Trainers’ Workshops are eligible to apply for mini-grants. If more than 30 qualified applications are received, applications will be evaluated on the comprehensiveness of the training plan and the potential impact of the training, to be determined by the estimated number of workshop participants, the number of schools represented, and the geographic location of the training site. Applicants may apply for more than one mini-grant. If applying for one than one mini-grant please submit a separate application for each training plan/location.

Mini-Grant Guidelines
Mini-grant recipients are responsible for planning, promoting, offering and evaluating one or more CSYSG workshops for California schools. Specifically, mini-grant recipients are required to:

  • Work in a team of 2 or more trainers to conduct at least six hours of training using the CSYSG workshop materials. The training may take place over multiple training sessions, but the total training time must equal at least six hours.
  • Train at least 15 people. CSYSG training is recommended for school garden teams of 3-6 people, with 4 or more schools per workshop. We recommend school garden teams include at least one teacher. They can include parents, community volunteers, school administrators or other garden supporters.
  • Offer free or low-cost training. Workshop registration fees may not exceed $40/person.
  • List their workshop(s) on CSGN’s event calendar (
  • Collect written workshop evaluations from participants.
  • Submit an online final report survey that will include the workshop agenda, a roster of participants, and a summary of participant evaluations. Reports are due within 30 days after the training. 

During the 2012-2013 school year, Life Lab will use CDFA funds to award up to 30 mini-grants of $550 each.

Mini-grant funds may be used for the following purposes:

  • Workshop materials and supplies
  • Publicity costs, such as printing and mailing
  • Staff planning and workshop implementation time
  • Staff travel expenses to and from the training location
  • Beverages and snacks for workshop participants

NOTE: Indirect costs are not allowed on these mini-grants.

  • Applications must be received by July 6, 2012.
  • Mini-grant recipients will be notified by July 20, 2012.
  • Training must take place before August 30, 2013.
  • Funds will be awarded after training is complete. A class roster, agenda, and final report (summary of activities and feedback) are required for funds to be awarded.

Life Lab, the UC Davis Children’s Garden Program, and the Resource Conservation District of San Diego County will serve as regional grant management sites to oversee the funded trainings. Each mini-grant recipient will be contacted by staff from one of the above organizations. The regional grant management sites will provide consultation as needed on workshop content and logistics and collect final event reports. 

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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!
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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.


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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.
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End the year making a life-chaning difference!
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With women and people of color still underrepresented in scientific fields, "I'm a scientist!" is a powerful statement coming from a 2nd grade girl in Watsonville. It came during a field trip to our Blooming Classroom field trip program. Young students look at flowers on living plants in the garden, see pollinators interacting with them, and pick a flower to dissect and explore its parts. Then they draw the flower and label all the parts they learned about in a lesson with our garden educators. This hands-on, garden-based science in action, and the feeling it gives students is exciting!

These ah-ha moments happen all the time at Life Lab, inspiring children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature. 100% of the funds needed to create these life-changing experiences come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that thousands of children each year can experience the joy of hands-on garden-based learning? Your tax-deductible gift will go directly to supporting our programs.

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We all know that hands-on experiences are critical to learning. No one would dream of teaching technology without computers: in fact, in many schools today they are mandating 30 minutes of screen time per student, per day. Why on earth with this understanding are we trying to teach earth and life science without giving them exposure to earth and life? School gardens are spaces--outdoor classrooms--where students can learn science and apply math and language arts, in a context that feels relevant to them. And what might happen if we elevated the status of hands-on, experiential, outdoor learning? What might happen if schools started mandating 30 minutes of dirt time per student per day? This would be time where they could apply what they're learning in the classroom outdoors to the world around them and develop a connection to it. Well that’s what we’re here to find out!
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"This field trip was a fun experience that taught me how to eat healthy food in a fun way." -6th grader on a Feeling Fine with Fresh Foods Field Trip
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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