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

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.

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 designs!

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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#tbt to that time two weeks ago we were at the School Garden Support Organization – SGSO – Network conference organized by Sprouts Farmers Market and Life Lab !Check out this cool recap video Jen put together – love how we’re #growingschoolgardens together!#veggiecatethefirststate #stemeducation #handsonlearning #schoolgardens #kidswhogarden

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

www.lifelab.org/jobs Full-time Bilingual Garden Educators at PVUSD School Gardens and Summer Program Staff at Garden Classroom on UCSC Farm

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3 weeks ago

Life Lab

Full-time Career and Summer Staff Positions in @pajarovalleyusd school gardens and the Life Lab Garden Classroom. On the @ucscagroecology farm @ucsc @pvusdschoolfood lifeLab.org/jobs

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4 weeks ago

Readers To Eaters

Thrilled that The Thing About Bees: A Love Letter is NC Farm Bureau "Ag in the Classroom" #BookOfTheMonth! Check out their terrific Activity Guide, including a few fun facts:• The honeybee is the state insect for North Carolina and 15 other states? • In North Carolina, bees help to pollinate strawberries, apples, and broccoli to name a few.bit.ly/3tE6nLASee this reading of author/illustrator Shabazz Larkin for PBS/ Thirteen WNET New York. bit.ly/32LQ0S0Good sharing for United Nations #WorldBeeDay on 5/20 and June #NationalPollinatorsMonth. ..#AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #AITC #FarmToSchool #Bees #Pollinators #Pollination #FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation #DiverseBooks National Agriculture in the ClassroomAmerican Farm Bureau Foundation for AgricultureNCLA: North Carolina Library AssociationNC School Library Media AssociationState Library of North CarolinaASAP – Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture ProjectNational Farm to School Network The Bee Cause Project The Pollinator Partnership North Carolina State Beekeepers AssociationNC Beekeepers Forsyth County Beekeepers Association of N.C.Whole Kids Foundation Big Green FoodCorps Life LabThe Black Church Food Security Network The Brown Bookshelf Multicultural Children’s Book Day We Need Diverse Books

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4 weeks ago

Readers To Eaters

Happy #PoetryFriday, #NationalPoetryMonth & #NationalGardenMonth!Sharing #poem "Three Sisters" from Our School Garden!, winner of #GrowingGoodKidsBookAward from Junior Master Gardener Program and The American Horticultural Society bit.ly/1x8LrbK See Curriculum Matrix from National Agriculture in the Classroom, including more on Three Sisters Garden. bit.ly/3Lybfv1 ..#Poetry #ChildrensPoetry #FoodPoetry #FoodLiteracy #SchoolGarden #GardenEducation #FarmToSchool #STEM #STEAM #AITC #AgClassroom #AgLiteracy National Farm to School NetworkCalifornia Farm to School Massachusetts Farm to SchoolSouth Carolina Farm to School Clemson Extension School & Community GardeningIowa Agriculture Literacy FoundationNew York Agriculture in the ClassroomLife Lab Big Green Pilot Light Common Threads FarmWashington Ag in the Classroom Common Threads Farm Viva Farms Edible Schoolyard NYC Slow Food SeattleNational Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI)

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1 month ago

Readers To Eaters

"Colorful, stylized art and playful, accessible text… Inspiring and ‘kraut-chi-licious.’" So excited for our first review of Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild from Kirkus Reviews, just posted today! Full review below. Cheers to co-authors Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee for their followup to Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix, part of the award winning "Food Heroes" series, and the illustration debut for artist Julie Wilson. Such a fun team to work with! Just like June Jo wrote in her Author’s Note on visiting Sandor’s fermentation school, "we were all transformed—livelier, funkier, and more wild." Bay Area friends can come to joint book event with Sandor signing FERMENTATION JOURNEYS and co-author June Jo Lee signing Sandor Katz and the Tiny Wild at South Berkeley Farmers Market/Ecology Center, 5/31, 3-5pm. Sandor will also make pao-cai, a chinese style of fermenting vegetables in a spiced brine that is perpetually reused. bit.ly/3wmhifZKIRKUS REVIEW A biography of food-fermentation guru Sandor Katz.Colorful, stylized art and playful, accessible text draw in readers, beginning with the endpapers’ beautiful cabbages. First, Katz is shown in his world-renowned fermentation school in Walnut Ridge, Tennessee, where his kitchen lies inside a house with a “crickety-crockety porch.” Next, readers learn of his boyhood in New York City, where he grows up loving fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kosher dill pickles. As a young man, Katz watches friends dying of AIDS and then learns that he is HIV-positive. He decides that the best way to take better care of himself is to leave his beloved city and “join a community of queer folks” in rural Tennessee. When their farm is overpopulated with ready-to-harvest cabbage, Katz is inspired to try his hand at sauerkraut. Soon, he combines that recipe with Korean kimchi spices and creates something that he dubs “kraut-chi.” A dazzling double-page spread shows him and his living partners at table as they dub him “Sandorkraut.” Katz markets his product and eventually travels the world, teaching, learning, and writing about fermented foods. The simple instructions—“chop, salt, squeeze, pack, and wait”—become the foundation for an accessible, six-step recipe at the end. Fermentation definitions are deftly sprinkled throughout the pages. Inspiring and “kraut-chi-licious.” • Book info @ bit.ly/35X4frY• Friends @ #TXLA22 can see the book at Publisher Spotlight booth 2140. • SANDOR KATZ will be published this June. Look for June Jo signing at #ALA2020 in DC this June. Stay tuned for more info.• Look for the audiobook from Live Oak Media later this year! ..#FoodLiteracy #FoodHeroes #FoodCulture #Fermentation #NoHeatCooking #Microbes #TinyWild #LGBTQ+ #QueerCommunity #PictureBookBiography #FoodBiography #FoodWriterNational Farm to School Network National Agriculture in the Classroom Life Lab Big Green Slow Food USA Real Food Media The Edible Schoolyard Project Center for Ecoliteracy FoodCorps Pilot Light The Fermentation Association

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1 month ago

Stephen Ritz

STANDING OVATION! National Growing School Garden Summit! Thx School Garden Support Organization – SGSO – Network Sprouts Farmers Market Sprouts Foundation Life Lab Denver, Colorado Denver Public Schools This is what #community looks like. #schoolgarden #lettuce #turnip #beet

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Conference Day 3 photo dump!Jen attended the seminars That’s Tasty! Garden and Cafeteria Connections through Taste Tests and Building & Institutionalizing a Sustainable School Garden Program Incorporating Horticultural Science Curriculum, as well as lightning talks about Salad Bar Success, Top 10 Takeaways for Building your Vision, Urban Agroforestry, Amplifying Indigenous Culture in the Classroom, A Community School starting a garden in a pandemic, How to diversify your volunteers.The seminars Lydia attended included Speak Their Language: Easy Peas-y Impact Communications for Diverse Stakeholders and From the Ground Up: Three Perspectives on Building a Districtwide School Garden Program, as well as lightening talks on soil, holistic care in the garden, program evaluation and regenerative forests. Key takeaways include the importance of sharing collected data back to stakeholders and of having ‘mission moments’ at board and staff meetings. Favorite lines from today:"The importance of having control over our own food and a safe plate of food on our table." "The garden is a mirror.""Which weeds in our lives are using up resources and taking up space?""Great conversations happen in the garden.""Empowering students to become agents of change in their communities through science, peace and gardening."The evening concluded with a plant-based dinner-dance party where attendees made music with vegetables (see video!) and @djcaverm had the group shouting "kale life!"#veggiecatethefirststate #growingschoolgardens Life Lab Sprouts Farmers Market School Garden Support Organization – SGSO – Network

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Conference photo dump Day 2!The day started out with a group session where we wrote our best school garden tips on a piece of paper, turned them into paper airplanes and flew them across the room! A fun way to wake everyone up and get the day going!Sessions we attended included: Growing Garden Leaders, not Garden Weeders!, Our Garden Mocktail Mix: Teachers, Models & Advocacy, Use It or Lose It: Maintaining Long-term garden program and Growing our Youngest Gardeners: Garden Design and Creative Education. Some of our favorite quotes of the day are——"The next frontier is right beneath our feet.""Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up.""Soil is the living skin of the earth.""Landscapes shape mind-scapes.""We are part of a movement that honors life."" We need to embrace growth-oriented discomfort"#veggiecatethefirststate #growingschoolgardensSprouts Farmers Market School Garden Support Organization – SGSO – Network Life Lab

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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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