Life Lab

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

Life Lab offers garden-based field trips for preschool through middle school students in the Garden Classroom on the UCSC CASFS Farm.

Seeds of Wonder Preschool & Kindergarten Field Trips take place on Wednesdays, April-June and October-November.

Spring Science Exploration Field Trips for 1st-4th grades. Mondays & Tuesdays, mid-April through mid-June.

Fall Farm to Fork Field Trips for 1st grade – middle school. Mondays & Tuesdays, September through mid-November.

Winter Feeling Fine with Fresh Food Nutrition Field Trips for 3rd-5th grades. Tuesdays, January-March.

Garden Classroom Field Trip Reservation Info

View field trip visitor information (confirmation materials, parking information, daily agenda)


Seeds of Wonder Preschool & Kindergarten Field Trips: A Hands-on Exploration of the Garden Classroom

This 90 minute seasonal program is geared toward 3 1/2 – 6 year olds. Programs focus on hands-on exploration of the garden, songs, stories, and opportunities for discovery.

Fall Program
  • Visit our vegetable garden to harvest and eat garden treats
  • Collect leaves, make leaf prints, and celebrate the falling leaves
  • Visit our pumpkin patch, read a pumpkin story and taste pumpkin seeds
  • Meet our friendly hens, find out what they do for us in the garden and peek into their nesting boxes to search for eggs
  • Classes take home post-visit activity ideas for teachers
Spring Program
  • A soil discovery station, where students use their senses to explore a variety of soils and search for worms in the soil
  • A seed sorting and planting station, where students investigate garden seeds and plant seeds in root view cups to bring back to the classroom
  • A visit with our friendly hens, along with a discussion of what they do for us in the garden and peek in the nest boxes to search for eggs
  • An exploration of our garden wildlife, to find insects, lizards, and birds that make their home in the garden
  • Classes take home post-visit activity ideas for teachers and root view seed cups for classroom observation

Wednesdays, 9:00-10:30, $100/class (payment required 3 weeks in advance of field trip date), one class maximum per visit (20-30 students), $4 per car parking fee, scholarships available.

Click here for field trip registration info.

Spring Science Exploration Field Trips

For 1st through 4th graders. We are in the process of bringing our Spring Science Exploration field trips in line with NGSS, and some content is still being developed. Please contact amy@lifelab.org with any questions. Thanks!

All programs include:
  • Garden-based science exploration stations
  • A hands-on exploration of the UCSC Farm
  • Visiting with our chickens and observational bee hive

Pondering Plants – Grade 1 Come explore the garden and discover how different types of roots and leaves help the plant grow and survive.

Garden Pollinators – Grade 2 Birds, butterflies, and other creatures are essential visitors to the garden. Come explore the relationships between plants and pollinators and learn how they depend on each other.

Life Cycles in the Garden – Grade 3 Come investigate life cycles in the garden, where we can find plants and animals in all ages & stages! From seed to sunflower, egg to butterfly and back again, we’ll look into how life cycles work.

Fabulous Functions – Grade 4 Dig into photosynthesis, plant and animal parts and how they help these living things survive.

Field Trips are available Mondays & Tuesdays, mid-April through early June. Field trips begin at 10 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. $180/class (payment required 3 weeks advance of field trip date), 1 class maximum per visit (20-30 students), $4 per car parking fee, Scholarships available. Click here for field trip registration info.

Fall Farm to Fork Field Trips

For 1st grade through middle school students. This program helps students to make the important connection between farms and the food on their dinner table. All participating teachers will receive pre- and post-visit lessons related to our local food system.

Farm to Fork Field Trips include:

Hands-on Exploration of the 25-acre UCSC Farm

  • Explore a organic flower and vegetable farm
  • Harvest and sample the six plant parts—roots, stems, leaves, flowers, fruits & seeds
  • Participate in apple investigations and tastings in the orchard
  • Gain an appreciation for the different varieties & uses of corn

Activities in the Garden Classroom

  • Harvest celebration, where students make and taste corn tortillas & apple cider
  • Visiting chickens, honey bees, composting worms, and other garden learning sites

Field Trips are available Mondays & Tuesdays, early October through mid-November.

Field trips begin at 10:00 a.m. and end at 1:15 p.m.

$180/class (payment required 3 weeks advance of field trip date), One class maximum per visit (20-30 students), $4 per car parking fee, Scholarships available. Click here for field trip registration info.

Winter Feeling Fine with Fresh Food Nutrition & Cooking Field Trips For Third, Fourth & Fifth Graders

For third, fourth, and fifth grade students. This program helps students to make the important connection between their health and the foods they choose. The activities prepare students to make informed decisions about what they eat. All participating teachers receive a packet of pre- and post-visit lessons to extend the learning into the classroom.

Field Trips Include:

Nutrition Activities in the Garden Classroom

  • Find out how eating a rainbow of fruits & vegetables keeps our body systems working
  • Learn how to create a balanced meal or snack
  • Harvest and cook “Stone Soup” and enjoy it with your lunch

Hands-on Exploration of the 25 acre UCSC Farm

  • Explore an organic vegetable and flower farm
  • Discuss the seasonality of food
  • Learn about the value of eating fresh and local

Field Trips Available: Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., January through March. $180/class (payment required 3 weeks advance of field trip date), One class maximum per visit (20-30 students), $4 per car parking fee, Scholarships available. Click here for field trip registration info.

Field trips take place rain or shine. Ponchos and covered areas available.

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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,"
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 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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