Life Lab

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


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: $360/$400 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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3 days ago

Life Lab

We have a few spots still open for our 4-6 years old camp T/TH camp. Tell your friends.Calling all 4-6 year olds! We have openings in our T/Th Garden Sprouts Day Camp This is a great first day camp experience! See MoreSee Less

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4 days ago

Life Lab

A reminder to vote for Life Lab when you shop at New Leaf (there are paper ballots in the stores) to continue to be an EnviroToken recipient! We have been so grateful for this support from New Leaf Community Markets! Voting closes June 30th, and you can vote EVERY time you go to the store!Help select your store’s Envirotoken partners! For every reusable grocery bag you use at New Leaf, we give you a 10¢ Envirotoken to donate to one of six local nonprofits. Visit your neighborhood store between now and June 30 to cast your vote for which non-profits will receive this year’s donations. Thanks for helping us give back to our local communities! See MoreSee Less

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6 days ago

Life Lab

Happy Monday!

#lifelab #gardeneducation #chickens #chickensofinstagram See MoreSee Less

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1 week ago

Life Lab

Thanks to our volunteer carpenter Michael for the beautiful new planters.

Have you visited the life lab garden lately? Come check out what’s new. The garden is open to the public sunrise to sunset daily!

#lifelab #gardeneducation #welovevolunteers See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

We are so grateful to be a current EnviroToken recipient at New Leaf’s Westside location–AND we are on the ballot AGAIN for the next round! Be sure to go into any store location and cast your paper ballot for Life Lab! This support makes a big impact on our ability to grow healthy, inspired children across Santa Cruz County & beyond. Thank you, New Leaf Community Markets!Happy Earth Month! Our Envirotoken program turns 25 this year, and we owe a HUGE thank you to all of our amazing customers for your support over the years. Founded in 1993, together we’ve kept 7 million bags out of landfills and raised over $700,000 for local non-profits! See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Calling all 4-6 year olds! We have openings in our T/Th Garden Sprouts Day Camp This is a great first day camp experience! See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Less than 3 weeks until our Benefit Brunch! Hope you can join us!

Here’s a taste of the kind of inspiration you’ll get at our Brunch. Whitney Cohen, our Education Director, gave this speech at our 2014 Benefit Brunch–totally worth 8 minutes of your time to watch this! Whitney is gearing up to give a brand new speech at our upcoming event–you won’t want to miss it!

Registration at: Lab Education Director eloquently shares why our work matters to 150 guest at our 2014 Benefit Brunch. See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

In 2009, a group of teachers from Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Elementary School in Jonesboro, Arkansas came to Life Lab. A year later, we visited them to lead two workshops for their staff (side note: this was also my first experience with okra, sweet tea, and flying in a biplane flown by Garden Teacher Melinda’s son). Now nine years, 3 courtyard gardens, 1 kitchen, and countless gardening and cooking classes later, Melinda and Sherri are back at Life Lab! What a treat to reconnect and hear about the amazing work they and their team have accomplished in their school! See MoreSee Less

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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