Life Lab

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

As part of Life Lab’s 40th Anniversary we organized and promoted “Santa Cruz County Open School Gardens Day” This was a one day event where 14 local school gardens opened their gates for community building and garden tours. Our post event assessment noted that about 300 people attended and of those attendees 75+ were visits from folks outside of the host school community.

Follow the steps below to run your own school garden tour or open gardens event.

Steps & Resources for Running a School Garden Open House or Tour

Step 1)  4-5 Months Before Your Event Date – Identify Interested Gardens

  • We used the following email text and this Initial Interest Form to sign up interested gardens. Click here to make and save an editable copy of our Initial Interest Form in your google drive account.
  • Initial Email Sent to Recruit Interested School Gardens:Greetings Friend,
    Join school gardens from across Santa Cruz County for Open School Gardens Day on Saturday, October 12, 2019
    Use this very short form to let us know of your school’s interest to participate in Open School Garden Day. Please fill this out by June 7th.For Life Lab’s 40th anniversary we will be organizing and promoting various celebrations and a school garden open house called “Open School Garden Day”.As part of the Open School Garden Day we will promote participating school gardens and are looking to provide you resources (grocery store gift cards and a new garden sign) to help you run your event. This will be an opportunity to share your garden program to the wider community and reconnect with those (Life Lab “Pioneers”) that will be gathering as part of Life Lab’s Anniversary Gala.Learn more about the Santa Cruz Area School Garden Network

Step 2)  2-3 Months Before Your Event Date – Confirm Garden Event Details

  • We used the following email text and this Event Details Form to confirm participating gardens. Click here to make and save an editable copy of our Garden Event Details Form in your google drive account. The Event Details From was included on our Events Details and Resource Page
  • Email Sent to Confirm Open Garden Event:

    Greetings Friend,
    Santa Cruz County Open School Gardens Day is months away!
    Find all the details and link to Event Planning form hereConfirm your participation by filling out the Event Planning form by August 17th.

    As part of Life Lab’s (the national non-profit with local roots) 40th anniversary we will be organizing and promoting county-wide celebrations and a school garden open house call “Open School Gardens Day” on Saturday, October 12th. www.lifelab.org/40-years

    The purpose of Open School Gardens Day is to share and build the vibrant school garden culture that your garden brings to your school. Your school community and school garden enthusiasts will be invited to join in on your event or just visit your garden. We expect visitors from out of the region to come and tour the participating gardens.

    The list of schools below have expressed interest in participating and need to complete the Event Planning form by August 17th. If your school is not listed and you would like to participate, fill out the Event Planning form by August 17th.

    Participating schools will receive a $40 Grocery Store Gift Card to assist in your event planning, a new metal garden sign, a Life Lab publication of your choice and some seeds.

    Find all the details and link to Event Planning form hereConfirm your participation by filling out the Event Planning form by August 17th.

    Schools who have expressed interest in participating

    Amesti Elementary
    Boulder Creek Elementary 
    Branciforte Middle School
    Brook Knoll Elementary…. (truncated list)

Step 3)  Provide Support Resources for Participating Gardens

  • We used the following email text and this Events Details and Resource Page to remind and support our participating school gardens.
  • The Events Details and Resource Page lists ideas, tips and videos for running effective and engaging garden events and/or workdays
  • Final pre-event email sent to school garden hosts:

    Hi School Garden Champs!
    We are a week away from Open School Garden Day. Here’s some updates:
    1. Your $40 Whole Foods Gift Card was put in the mail on Friday addressed to you at your school address. Keep an eye out for it. Use these bucks to support your garden event or your garden classes.
    2. See who RSVPed via the RSVP form on the  www.lifelab.org/opengardens website. Do not consider this to be a complete list.
    (WE USED THIS RSVP FORM  TO RECORD OUT OF TOWN AND NON-SCHOOL COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO WERE PLANNING ON ATTENDING. CLICK HERE TO SAVE AND EDITABLE COPY OF THE RSVP FORM IN YOUR GOOGLE DRIVE)
    3. Please make note of how many visitors come to your garden workday (use a visitor sign in sheet??) and of those visitors how many are not folks that you invited from your school community. We want to get an idea of how many people outside of your school community showed up. I will follow up after the event with this Post Event Feedback form for you to share how it went and number of attendees. CLICK HERE TO SAVE AND EDITABLE COPY OF THE POST EVENT FEEDBACK FORM IN YOUR GOOGLE DRIVE)
    4. www.lifelab.org/opengardens has a map that shows visitors where to park plus a highlighted section that marks your garden (and also tells your garden dimensions in Sq Ft and acres). Clicking on the flower icon shows your event details. More details are also linked to in one document.  (WE CREATED THE MORE DETAILS CHART FROM GARDEN EVENT PLANNING FORM)
    5. View tips and ideas for running your event or workday  which also has links to these directional sign templates:

    Poster Templates – add your event details/arrows and post around your school campus to help visitors to your school find your garden. These are in Google Sheets template. To make an editable copy you can do the following: 1) Open them in Google Drive and “add them to your drive” or 2) Click “File” menu and then “Download” as Microsoft PowerPoint.

    1. 11 x 17 Template
    2. 8.5 x 11 Template
    3. 8.5 x 11 Template in Spanish
    6. Your new garden sign should be arriving to me on Friday. I will do my best effort to deliver your garden sign to your garden site on Friday along with your free Life Lab publication that you noted when you signed up. I will set the sign at your garden site with some zip ties to secure it. I will leave your book in the office or garden (if it seems like a good space to leave a book).
    Feel free to take photos during the event and share to me via email or post on social  with #openschoolgardens
    Thanks again for sharing your garden on a Saturday!

Step 4)  Create Event Promotions

  • We did the following to promote Open School Gardens Day
    • Sent promotional emails to thousands on our regional email list and posted on relevant regional list serves/groups
    • Provided poster/directional signage templates for garden sites
    • Created this website and detailed map www.lifelab.org/opengardens
      • we used Google’s My Maps to upload custom map data and outline garden site location on school sites
    • Submitted this Public Service Announcement to local radio stations
      • LIFE LAB, THE NATIONAL NON-PROFIT WITH LOCAL ROOTS, IS CELEBRATING ITS 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF BRINGING LEARNING TO LIFE IN GARDENS.   CELEBRATE THE VIBRANT SCHOOL GARDEN CULTURE THAT LIFE LAB HELPED IGNITE. ON SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12TH SCHOOL GARDENS ACROSS SANTA CRUZ COUNTY WILL BE OPENING THEIR GATES FOR OPEN SCHOOL GARDENS.   TOURS AND EVENTS WILL BE OFFERED. ON OCTOBER 13TH LIFE LAB WILL BE HOSTING AN ANNIVERSARY GALA AT HOTEL PARADOX. LEARN MORE AT WWW.LIFELAB.ORG/40YEARS THAT’S LIFELAB.ORG / ”4” “0” YEARS   – END –
    • Submitted Event Announcements to local online calendar and print media
      • Event Announcement – Connect with the vibrant school garden culture of Santa Cruz County! In celebration of Life Lab’s 40th Anniversary the greater community is invited to visit area school gardens for tours and special events. 15 school gardens across the county will be part of this “Open School Gardens” event. View activity schedule and map of gardens at www.lifelab.org/opengardens
    • Provided Event Announcement templates for garden site host (see sample announcement on the Events Details and Resource Page)
    • Social Media Posts tweet  instagram  facebook #openschoolgardens
    • Created a photo album of gardens before and during the event

Step 5)  Collect Post Event Feedback

 

Tips for running guided school garden tour events – coming soon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 days ago

Life Lab

🌱Moment of the Month🌱

Life Lab Summer Camps are always a beautiful and nurturing way to share the interconnections of nature with children. Although our campers could not join us in the Life Lab Garden Classroom this summer, we wanted to make it possible for them to have fun at home! So our camp team assembled Summer Activity Care Packages full of materials, recipes, and advice for 225 children who had already registered for camp. They then carefully and lovingly hand delivered them to each family, occasionally getting to say Hi! from a safe distance, too.

"Thank you so much!! I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for pooling your ideas together for non-screen fun and learning opportunities. We can’t wait to dive in!
With much gratitude,"
Ellie

We are grateful to each and every camp family for their kindness, generosity, and patience as we all navigated the new realities of this year. As a community, the camp families even donated more than $12,000 of their camp fees towards ensuring that Life Lab will continue cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education during this challenging time.

While we cannot deliver care packages to everyone in our broader Life Lab community, we hope that our growing BackPocketLearning.org website will help families seeking simple, fun, nature based activities and healthy family recipes to enjoy together at home this summer!🌈🐝🌻🌞

#lifelabmomentofthemonth #mylifelab #lifelab #summercamp #summerfun #gardenbasededucation #gardenlife #garden See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Emma Christie in the Life Lab garden at Starlight Elementary School in Watsonville🌸#shareyourgaredLL #school gardens PVUSD Food & Nutrition Services #LifeLab AmeriCorps See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

Life Lab

In love with our @reneesgardenseeds flowers❤️thank you Renee for years of support & providing seeds for Life Lab gardens. We appreciate you! #reneesgardenseeds #lifelab #outdooreducation #gardensofgratitude #schoolgardens See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

“Education is a practice of Freedom” #emancipation #juneteenth #americanhistory #blackhistory #teachablemoments See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Happy National Eat Your Veggies Day!😋🥕

To celebrate today we wanted to share some of our impacts this past school year. In our seven PVUSD Partner Elementary Schools, 98% of kindergarten, 1st and 2nd teachers reported that the Fall 2019 NGSS in the Garden programs improved their 1,900 students’ attitudes towards fresh fruits and vegetables, their emotional well-being, and their connection with nature.

Our Kids Cook presentation brought exciting hands-on cooking and healthy eating to more than 1,500 3rd, 4th and 5th graders at these schools, too, in January, February and March. In tastings surveys 72% of the children reported liking or loving the fresh, healthful foods they ate, with 63% said they were trying a new fresh produce item for the first time.

278 second-graders from our partner schools enjoyed hands-on learning in field trips to our Blooming Classroom this school year. 59% reported tasting new healthy food items for the first time in lesson-based tastings, and 70% said they loved or liked what they tasted.

We would also like to remind you to eat a rainbow 🌈🥗

A diverse and colorful diet nourishes a strong and healthy body. All fruits and vegetables contain different combinations of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. In addition, they contain phytonutrients, which give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors and also play a wide range of roles in keeping our bodies healthy.

Thank you to our partners and sponsors for making this work possible. @sagegardenproject @pvhealth @pajarovalleyusd
@unfi @foodcorps

#eatyourveggies #EatYourVegetablesDay #mylifelab #vegetables See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Timeline Photos See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Life Lab Stands With Black Lives.

The injustice of systemic racism must end. Our work at Life Lab to foster empathy, love and inclusion with the children who are the next generation will continue, and it is no longer enough. This painful moment is an opportunity and a catalyst for us to take the next steps to more purposefully weave antiracist learning into all that we do.

This is a time of active learning for us, as we listen and dig deeper into Life Lab’s part in historical and present-day oppression. We see opportunities to provide foundational antiracist lessons and experiences more intentionally throughout our curriculum and programs, joining with others who are on this path.

There are seeds of hope in this moment that we can nurture in garden classrooms. Our work with children, educators and schools can motivate actions, large and small, individual and collective, to help create real change for a more just society.

Black lives matter, and Life Lab commits to countering racism through education and love.

We know this process will include learning, unlearning and relearning. We welcome this collaborative work, and we will report back to you on our progress.

~ The Life Lab Team See MoreSee Less

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1 month ago

Life Lab

🥕Meet Cara, our Garden Programs Manager!🥕

Cara began her current position at Life Lab in 2014, but has worked with Life Lab in a variety of roles since 2007. While going to school at the University of California Santa Cruz, she found her calling to be an outdoor educator while interning at Life Lab in the field trip teaching program. Graduating from UCSC with a B.A in Environmental Studies and a minor in Anthropology, Cara brings 12 years of education experience to her position, specializing in environmental education and professional development for beginning educators. Growing up in Chicago, she jumped on opportunities to volunteer and work at learning institutions, such as the Evanston Ecology Center and the Field Museum of Chicago. Cara moved to Santa Cruz in 2003 and loves living in a community that appreciates healthy living, eating well, and the natural world. When she is not hard at work, she is hard at play, hiking, dancing, cooking, traveling and doing yoga.🥘🌎😁 See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Our “Share Your Garden Saturday” video series continues with a sweet share from Abby Hauth at the Life Lab garden at MacQuiddy Elementary🌸 #shareyourgardenLL #schoolgardens #lifelab @foodcorps @pvusdschoolfood See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Eat a Rainbow this Memorial weekend! Fruits & veggies provide nutrients essential for good health 🌈🥗💪🏽 #chard #carrots #schoolgardens #lifelab #eatarainbow #nutrition #gardeneducation #teachtheyouth See MoreSee Less

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Life Lab 40th
Life Lab’s 40th Gala – Sunday, October 13th  Celebrate 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens. Learn more  
Life Lab's 40th Gala
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
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