Life Lab

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

This post is part of our Sustaining School Gardens series.

Attention school gardeners: A summary of nearly 70 responses to a school compost survey are described on this blog page. Check it out to see how compost functions in schools! The survey is still open and we would love to hear about your school compost.

Life Lab has searched the around for the finest school composting resources, which describe every step needed to begin and maintain a successful compost system at your school. Whether you are attempting to cut your school districts food waste by using municipal composting facilities, adding a compost bin to your school garden, or looking for compost curriculum these pages are for you!

School Wide Composting Programs

District Wide Composting Programs

Lessons and Curriculum

Composting Manuals and Resources

A variety of composting and vermicomposting resources can be found at CalRecycle. The resources cover topics in the science of composting, starting a compost pile, and how to incorporate composting into the classroom.

This school composting slide show describes all the logistics needed to start a compost system at your school, talks about how to start the compost, the collection of food wastes on campus, and school compost maintenance.

View Breaking it Down: School Composting Made Easy with FoodCorps Webinar. Access many more school compost resources related to the webinare in’s Growing School Garden Community (free to join).

The Northeast Recycling Council created a guide to school composting options. It details what systems work for different types of schools and has tips for different stages of the compost process. This resource also provides information on different bins capacities to decompose food scraps.

Want to compost your school cafeteria lunch scraps? Here is a 98 page compost manual made by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that shows the steps to establish and maintain a successful school-wide composting program.

This two page manual created by Davis RISE program describes the steps needed to incorporate a vermicomposting or composting system into your school.

Post this basic compost recipe near your school compost as a reminder to the kids what ingredients are needed to make a healthy compost. Click here for a general compost recipe.

What’s wrong with my compost? Here is a guide from Cornell to help diagnose your compost.

Vermicomposting Examples

Life Lab’s Worm Composting resources and videos

The Worm Guide is available from CalRecycle for download. The guide describes how food scraps are transformed into nutrient rich vermicompost and has a variety of interdisciplinary classroom activities.

This vermicomposting video created by Life Lab shows the different options educators have to build a worm bin, it also describes the capacity of different worm bins to convert food scraps, and how to make a vermicompost bin from scratch. This video also includes how to harvest worm castings and how to maintain a worm bin.

Bin Examples

View Life Lab’s school compost photo gallery click on compost.

Cornell Waste Management Institute created a booklet filled with compost designs. It includes what materials you need and instructions to construct the design. Click here to view 10 different compost designts!

Growing Gardens from Garbage sells insulated compost bins for cold weather composting and describes how to build an insulated compost bin.

Follow Life Lab’s board Compost Area Images on Pinterest.

Share your school compost manuals and bin designs below!

These school composting pages were compiled as a senior project for the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California Santa Cruz by Savannah Rugg a senior intern with Life Lab.

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1 week ago

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Thanks Christine at for sharing a good winter time lesson from The Growing Classroom.Christine shares a hands-on garden planning lesson using mapping, math, and scale drawing skills from one of our best-known resources, The Growing Classroom!… See MoreSee Less

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2 weeks ago

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Join Us For a 2019 Life Lab Garden Classroom Workshop

~ Meet and learn from other garden-based educators

~ Be inspired by our model educational Garden Classroom Site

~ Enjoy a delicious, fresh meal

~ Take home lessons and resources to use in the garden or classroom See MoreSee Less

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3 weeks ago

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Last week we were thrilled to have garden educators from around the country collaborate at our School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute.

Will you apply next year? Pictures (and smiles) tell it better than our words can.

Thank you all for participating!Kristen and Kat spent last week at the School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute hosted by Life Lab in Santa Cruz, California. The institute provided the opportunity for us to learn best practices in networking, sustainability, evaluation, school standards, and more from school garden organizations from all over the country. We also got to visit some truly dreamy and fully-integrated school gardens. We can’t wait to share our BIG goals and vision for OKC Harvest with you! See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

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Even though we’re 2 days into 2019 it’s not too late to donate to Life Lab! Our curriculum, our garden educator training, our interns are working with children year round in gardens across the country! See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

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We love hearing children in our Watsonville school programs proudly proclaim, “I’m a scientist!” after dissecting flowers and drawing their structures.

By supporting Life Lab you help make these inspiring educational experiences available to all children regardless of what they can pay. See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

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Sharing this citrus salsa recipe!

"After making citrus salsa with the class, I asked all of the students to say ‘cheers’ to the chefs who helped prepare this delicious & healthy snack. One of the students looked up and exclaimed, ‘That’s US! WE are the chefs! WE did it!’ I loved seeing that moment of recognition for him: that he (and his entire class) had actually created this healthy meal for all of us to share and enjoy."

-Life Lab Kids Cook Educator See MoreSee Less

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2 months ago

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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