Life Lab

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

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Pacific Elementary School Garden has a FoodLab cooking kitchen program which produces and saves kitchen scraps to be composted and fed to worms. In addition to lunchroom kitchen scraps a local restaurant saves salad prep scraps in 5 gallon buckets to build compost. Each week 4-8 5 gallon buckets of greens are added to the composting systems. A strawbale sits next to the compost bin as “browns”.  Learn more, see photos and download logs & procedures.

Gault Elementary in Santa Cruz, CA has a compost system that includes vermicomposting and bin composting. The vermicompost is used for composting food scraps from nutrition education tasting activities in the garden and food scraps from the three kindergarten classrooms’ snack scraps. There are two composting bins and a tumbler, which are used to compost the school lunch waste and cafeteria waste three days per week. Children collect buckets from lunch area and bring the food scraps in a wagon to the garden where they dump the bucket into the compost bin and add an equal amount of a carbon source (dry leaves or straw) and a scoop of dirt to introduce microbes. Lunch supervisors monitor the buckets during lunch time. The finished compost is then applied to the school garden at Gualt Elementary.

Westlake Elementary in Santa Cruz, CA has great educational composts in their school garden. The worm bin is used for food scraps that are generated during tastings at the garden classroom. The pile is used to recycle plant material from the garden and turned occasionally by students when led in a compost demonstration. The compost is then applied to the garden beds.

Upper Valley Farm to School Network, a small non-profit in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire, recaps a school compost tour they gave to garden educators on this page. The tour visited three elementary schools and each school had a different composting system that met different composting needs. Great examples!

The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District in Northeast Ohio presents four case studies of different composting systems including tumbler compost bins, compost digesters, worm bins, and constructing compost bins from reused materials. Each school has a different compost system and different tips that help you keep your compost healthy. Read about four compost case studies here!

Quabbin Regional High School in Hubbardston, MA has volunteer students who help monitor lunch food scrap collection and move that contents to the compost. With a large two bin system the school can produce 150 cubic feet of compost a year. Read here for more details on Quabbin’s compost!

Kinard Middle School In Fort Collins, CO composts cafeteria scraps through vermicomposting and heat composting. Vermicomposting is done at the school and heat composting is sent off site. Watch the video to see how it works!

Crawford High School in San Diego, CA has a composting program which pays interns to help in the garden. They compost food scraps from the cafeteria in the garden compost and sell the finished product.

Groton Central School in Groton, NY has a student initiated compost program that puts food scraps from the cafeteria into a multi-bin compost design. Watch the video to see how the 8th grade wood shop constructed this system and have reduced food waste going to landfills.

Please share about your school’s compost system in the comments section below!

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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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