Life Lab

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

The Growing Classroom Workshop: 2-Day Intensive on Garden-Based Learning


The Growing ClassroomLearn to use a garden to breathe life into standards-based lessons, promote ecological literacy, encourage healthy eating, and support students' social development. Using Life Lab’s Growing Classroom activity guide for grades K-6, participants in this hands-on workshop experience tried-and-true garden-based lessons linked to Common Core Language Arts and Math and Next Generation Science Standards; practice basic gardening techniques; and develop management strategies for a school garden program. Graduate education units available.


Graduate Education CreditAnyone interested or involved in garden-based learning with children in grades K-6     

Location and Cost Options

Life Lab's Garden Classroom on the UC Santa Cruz Campus: $300/$360 per participant – See dates and registration deadlines for upcoming workshops


At your school site – See pricing details


Key Workshop Components

Learn …

Making Paper Pots

• How to connect garden-based learning activities from The Growing Classroom to academic content standards

• How to use a garden to provide opportunities for students to develop their creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills

• Basic gardening techniques, including composting, seed sowing, preparing garden beds, transplanting, and garden planning

• Outdoor classroom management tips

Discuss …  

• How to make outdoor, inquiry-based education work for different student populations

• The resources inside of The Growing Classroom activity guide, including sections on: Creating a garden, garden-based learning activities, gardening "how-to's," and connecting garden-based learning to academic content standards.

Take home …

* Six of One, Half Dozen of the OtherThe Growing Classroom activity guide

* Ideas and inspiration for your school garden

* Optional: 1 unit of semester credit available per day



One of the many lessons we model.

View a sample 2-Day Workshop Agenda.

To customize a 1-day version of this workshop, we work with site hosts to determine which half of the content is most relevant to their audience. Generally, site hosts choose to focus on 3 out of the following 6 areas for a 1-day Growing Classroom Workshop.

  • Curricular Connections in the Garden
  • Gardening How-To's: Composting, Planting, etc.
  • Educational Garden Design
  • Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education: Comparative Tasting
  • Science Inquiry in the Garden 
  • Collaborative Planning Time 

Participant Comments

The curriculum, which is incredible, will be a valuable asset to me as an instructor. The experience of being in the garden, seeing the different spaces first-hand, was exciting and thought provoking. And the different activities that we did were a lot of fun and helped me prepare for my upcoming programs. But the most important thing that I received from your workshop was inspiration! I'm so excited to bring garden education to Reno!

I learned how to integrate our state science curriculum into on-site gardening activities, teaching students how to explore, ask questions, and connect to the natural world. Now my students are showing an improved respect toward the plants and animals on campus, an enthusiasm and curiosity to visit and learn from the garden, and expanded healthy eating practices. Because of my participation in this training, my principal is supporting multiple grade levels in engaging in on-site garden activities.

One of the best organized days of hands-on activities and philosophical underpinnings I've ever seen.

I received a wonderful experience that will boost and sustain my quest for a learning garden area for my school.

This workshop far surpassed my expectations – excellent info from presenter and participants.

I came away with the knowledge that Life Lab can be used for teaching in every subject [and] lots of ides to improve our life lab.

This is exactly what we will need to further the commitment of a garden program district-wide.


View all upcoming workshops in Life Lab's Garden Classroom

All workshops require advanced registration and deposit.

To set up a workshop for your school site, please call Life Lab at (831) 459-3833 or email us at

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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
... See MoreSee Less

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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