Life Lab

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

Life Lab 40th


Join us in celebrating 40 years of bringing learning to life in gardens across Santa Cruz County and the nation! We will gather for a series of events in the Fall of 2019, reflecting on the past 40 years of bringing learning to life in educational gardens, and looking forward to the next 40 years.

40th Gala Dinner

Hotel Paradox, Santa Cruz

Sunday, October 13th

Reception: 4:00pm | Dinner: 5:00pm

Tickets: $135 

Join Life Lab for an unforgettable evening of celebration while we honor our founding pioneers, reflect on 40 years of being a local and national leader in bringing learning to life in gardens, and look forward to what’s possible together over the next 40 years. The night will begin with hors d’ouvers and drinks in Hotel Paradox’s poolside patio, followed by an elegant dinner. You will hear from leaders in our community, stories from the children we serve, immerse yourself in 40 years of memorable photos and videos, and reminisce with founding pioneers. Finish off the night with a drink and a chance to connect with our founders, past and current board and staff, garden educators, community partners, and many others. 

Sip wine, connect with friends old and new, and be inspired by keynote speakers. Take part in this monumental celebration and say YES with us to cultivating children’s love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

You won’t want to miss this special event!

Click below to secure your ticket today!

Contact us about sponsorship opportunities or to reserve a table for 8 Judit:, or Don


Sponsored by:

Family 40th Birthday Party

Sunday, September 29th

11:00am – 5:00pm

General Admission: $5

Free for UCSC students, kids 12 & under, and members of the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden

Directions and Schedule Here

UCSC Harvest Festival

We will celebrate in conjunction with the CASFS Harvest Festival at the Life Lab Garden Classroom on the UCSC Farm. Family-oriented activities and cake cutting. Come blow out the candles with us!

Sponsored by:

Santa Cruz County Open School Gardens Day

Saturday, October 12th

Free Admission

Connect with the vibrant school garden culture of Santa Cruz County! The greater community is invited to visit area school gardens for tours and special events.

A map of participating gardens and events times will be shared in September.

Santa Cruz County School Garden Managers sign your garden up to host an Open School Gardens Day. Confirm your participation by September 17th by completing the Event Planning Form

Sponsored by:


2018 Program Numbers

School-Based Students Served

Our team works directly with over 2,500 students and their teachers in 5 high need Watsonville elementary schools each year to create, use and sustain their school gardens and programs.

Student Field Trip Visitors

3,000 children annually enjoy inspiring, hands-on learning experiences in field trip, after-school, and day camp programs in our Garden Classroom and Blooming Classroom.

Educators Trained

Life Lab trains and equips 1,000 educators working with over 500,000 students in 26 states each year and leads a national institute to share models and practices among school garden leaders.

Decades of Photos

40 Years

In the press

Click the icon to explore Life Lab's news articles, awards and honorable mentions.

From the archive

Take a trip down memory lane and explore all the mile stones in Life Lab's history.

We want to hear from you! 


Life Lab is turning 40 this year! There is nothing that would make us happier than to reconnect with you.

Have you attended a Life Lab summer camp or field trip? Are you a past intern? Have we made a meaningful difference in your life?

We would love to share your stories with the world!

Please click the button below to share

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7 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,"

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 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 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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