Life Lab

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

Audries BlakeI am excited to be a part of Life Lab, its mission and values, especially, knowing the organization’s life-changing work reaches so many. And, I love the fact that I will be able to introduce others to the many inspiring ways they can partner with us so we can change many more lives.

Thinking back on my own experiences with the land, I see my family with me at pivotal times: Camping with my family in Yosemite when very small; creating epic stories while playing in the redwoods of Big Basin, Nisene Marks, or making weekly trips to Point Lobos to be the two-legged squirrels munching snacks, or the thrill of tide pools or hermit crabs. Being in nature calls me, and I find Life Lab encouraging that within me as well.

When I moved from Berkeley to Santa Cruz with my family, we initially lived in a home that had a large plot of land framed with numerous fruit trees on it – apple, orange, fig and persimmon – as well as berry bushes. I was fascinated with the orange and apple trees, but found the fig and persimmon trees messy, the fruit unappealing, and not something I wanted to familiarize myself with at all! As a little girl, eating what I knew was alright. The foreign stuff made me uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to even give it a try.

The vegetable and flower that were there is where I learned about gardening, a fascination that increased over the years. I loved the smell of the freshly turned earth and the texture of the dirt between my fingers. I appreciated the instant gratification that often came with prepping, planting, watering, weeding, and of course, harvesting the goods.

More than anything, growing food and flowers offered me an opportunity to share the rewards with others, until the harvest of squash was overwhelming and people would see me coming and run! I learned to find natural ways to discourage the varmints snatching my food, not interested in using chemicals. Gardening slowed me down, gave me a sense of a job well done, offered serenity.

I recall how food changed for me when my family moved to Santa Cruz: fruits and vegetables rarely came from a can any longer. Going to the garden to pick the corn (or the green beans, swiss chard…) and plop it into the boiling water became a game that soon dulled, and was taken for granted.

My idyllic life in Santa Cruz had limitations however. I wasn’t truly aware of that fact until I moved to Chicago. I had many assumptions on why people did what they did, not fully comprehending that choice is not always an option when it comes to accessing healthy food, among many other things. Up until that time, access to food never crossed my mind, as I assumed that it was common to go to the grocery store, rifle through the fresh foods and choose the ‘right one’.

My time in the Midwest opened my eyes, and heart, to the tremendous needs of so many in our society. Seeing the bleak reality of too many communities filled with convenience stores and fast-food restaurants, and few, if any grocery stores within walking distance motivated me to address healthy food access by volunteering while there and motivates me now to provide nourishing food in Santa Cruz.

The delightful irony of coming to Life Lab can be found in my exploring palate. Persimmons are now an obsession, as is kale. And there’s great delight in my being back in the garden. I find myself lost in the beauty of spider webs instead of getting to the office, or taking the time to get out, slow down and simply be grateful for the beauty that surrounds me. I hope I will get a chance to meet you here in the garden. Come on by, slow down, and I believe you, too, will grow to appreciate the simplicity and beauty that welcomes you.

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5 days ago

Life Lab

🌸Growing Gardens of Hope!🌸 Join us as we celebrate the beautiful impacts of school garden education as part of our virtual Spring Benefit Brunch on May 1st at 11am. Guest speakers are Dr. Dilafruz Williams 💐and Francisco Paco Estrada 🤩 Brunch Menu Options include offerings from New Leaf Community Markets Charlie Hong Kong Companion Bakeshop Steamer Lane Supply Thomas Family Farm Flowers 🌱 Register at www.LifeLab.org/spring-benefit #spring #fundraiser #schoolgardens #GardenBasedLearning #LifeLab

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1 week ago

Life Lab

Come one, come all! 🌻Bring your students for the first-ever, national, virtual school garden tour … hosted by students, for students! #growingschoolgardens #schoolgardens #learninggarden #kidsgardening #healthykids #KidsGardenMonth #LifeLab 🌱

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

Gardens of gratitude to @petalumaseedbank for your generous seed donation! 🌱Teamwork makes the school garden dream work🌸#seedbank #schoolgardens #LifeLab #spring #sprouts #ThankYouThursday

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Happy Spring Everyone!!🌱🌸🌱 Join us for our Family Gardening Spring Webinar this Tuesday March 23rd at 3pm to learn about Spring planting and garden based activities like trellising, how to make Root View Cups, garden art, pest management, and reseeding annuals🌸Register at lifelab.org/events. @reneesgardenseeds @originalgopherbasket #LifeLab #springequinox #spring #schoolgardens #gardeneducation #narcissus #webinarseries

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Our Spring Family Gardening Webinar is coming up soon🌱March 23rd at 3pm🌱 Join Life Lab educators for another fun family webinar focused on Spring planting and garden based activities like trellising, how to make Root View Cups, pest management, and reseeding annuals🌸Register at lifelab.org/events

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Join us for tomorrow’s Family Gardening Winter Webinar at 3pm! Register at LifeLab.org/events 🌱Linktree in our bio as well🌱#naturejournal #compost #soil #wintergardening #family #gardening #lifelab #schoolgardens

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2 months ago

Life Lab

Join Life Lab educators for a fun, family Winter gardening webinar on February 16th at 3pm. We will focus on the various ways to plan, create, and support a healthy garden. Topics include choosing a garden space, creative container options, what to plant now, and preparing for Spring. 🌱#gardeneducation #LifeLab #schoolgardens #familygardening #wintergarden 🌻Registration link in our bio

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3 months ago

Life Lab

🌱 Become a Life Lab Certified Educator!🌱 We only have 3 spots left in our new School Garden Educator Certification Program! Sign-up today for the entire series of courses or for individual courses by visiting website, link below. Our first course, Building Connections in the Garden, starts with asynchronous work on January 21st and our first synchronous session will be on January 28th from 3:30 – 5:00 PST. You may continue to sign up through January 27th or until all spots are filled. If needed, we highly encourage you to join the waitlist to get priority registration for our next cohort in the fall of 2021 or should there become spots available. Upon completion of the 4 courses, participants will receive a certificate and the distinction of being a Life Lab-Certified Garden Educator. Each course will last approximately 8 weeks long and include 4 synchronous meetings, at-home work, and a unique coaching model tailored to each individual’s needs.lifelab.org/educator-certification-program/

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3 months ago

Life Lab

Looking to 2021 with a magnified view of our impact on nature and our connections with each other. A healthy garden is a diverse and sustainable ecosystem full of wonder and beauty in all seasons. #LifeLab #2021 #gardeneducation #science #bettertogether

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Stock up your Garden Classroom

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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