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 Cara@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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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

Building on Life Lab’s 40 years of experience in the school garden movement, we’ve updated and put together a series of 4 virtual courses that will guide and support educators in becoming a Life Lab-Certified School Garden Educator. 🌳At Life Lab, we believe the world needs informed, inspired, creative, and collaborative leaders, ready with the skills and the motivation they need to work for justice, sustainability, and healthy communities. And we believe that the garden is an ideal space for growing just such leaders! Now, more than ever, we need dedicated educators to lead children in cultivating a love of learning, healthy food and connection to our natural world through garden-based education. 🐝Your support makes this work possible 💚 – thank you for being a part of the Life Lab community and broader school garden movement! If you have already donated to Life Lab recently, thank you! If you haven’t yet given this year, please help us keep all of this vital work going and growing by donating now. Gifts of any size are deeply appreciated and have real impacts.www.lifelab.org/donate

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4 weeks ago

Life Lab

🌻 🔬 Next Generation Science in the Garden 🔬🌻 “I’m a Scientist!” exclaim students in the garden, empowered by Life Lab’s inquiry-led approach to science education. A garden is rich with teachable moments inviting observant students to experience foundational life and natural science concepts. As birds fly overhead, plants fruit or bloom or hibernate, decomposers make dirt; students learn science by observation and experience, having fun and gaining deeper academic knowledge. Life Lab’s Next Generation Science in the Garden (NGSG) curriculum is developed by teachers, piloted by garden educators and a wonderful tool for connecting academic curriculum to robust garden environments.Your support makes this work possible – thank you for being a part of the Life Lab community and broader school garden movement! NGSG Curriculum is available now! ow.ly/ATOW50HhQb4

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1 month ago

Life Lab

Thank you for supporting hands-on learning and well-being for all children and being part of the growing school garden movement! We appreciate your partnership and wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season.

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I’ve been a teacher educator for 15 years. I started with literacy methods, then migrated to science, but what I most love to teach is garden pedagogy. Thanks to @ucmastergardenersnapaco I was able to bring lessons I learned from @ucdstudentfarm Life Lab and @beetlesproject to Napa. From 2013-2017 the #SchoolGardenTaskForce hosted several workshops aimed at increasing the horticultural knowledge of garden educators. I found a community of like-minded folks to connect with in California. #communityconnection #gardenbasedlearning #learningfromthebest

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2 months ago

Readers To Eaters

#GoodReads in Spanish, incldng LAS CALABACITAS DE ZORA, translatd from Zora’s Zucchini.Also see ESPINACAS DE SYLVIA, translated from Sylvia’s Spinach, a 2020 selection.See full lists from 2019-2021: bit.ly/3rkZa5nBoth SYLVIA and ZORA, in English & Spanish, are available in #audiobooks from Live Oak Media. ..#SpanishChildrensBooks #DiverseBooks #FoodLiteracy REFORMA Reforma Los Angeles ChapterNational Association for Bilingual EducationCABE California Association for Bilingual EducationThe National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) California Association for the Education of Young ChildrenViva Farms Big Green Life Lab Common Threads Farm The Children’s Book Council ALSC – The Association for Library Service to ChildrenThe Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DCOur ’22 Best Spanish Language Picture book list comes out in January. For now, enjoy ’21 @CuentoDeLuz @charlesbridge @reforma @ALALibrary @Candlewick @kokila @BarefootBooks @ReadersToEatersbankstedu.info/3D3NBl3

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Our partners, Life Lab, are hiring to work with #PVUSD students. Check it out!Nuestros socios, Life Lab, están contratando para trabajar con estudiantes de #PVUSD. ¡Échale un vistazo!lifelab.org/about/internships/jobs/Life Lab PVUSD Parents

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2 months ago

Readers To Eaters

Happy National Homemade Bread Day! November is also National Bread Month. Share Bread Lab on the science and joy of whole wheat sourdough breadmaking. bit.ly/2VQjVo7"This engaging picture book about the science and joy of making bread is named for Washington State University’s influential BreadLab and co-written by its managing director, Kim Binczewski, and agricultural scientist Bethany Econopouly. Illustrated lovingly by Hayelin Choi, this book should inspire folks of all ages to explore the world of sourdough baking."Eater SeattleSee video with Kim introducing the book and her work at the WSU Breadlab. bit.ly/3r9RIqz..#NationalHomemadeBreadDay #HomemadeBread #Bread #WholeGrain #WholeWheat #Sourdough #SourdoughStarter #Fermenation #FoodLiteracy #FoodEducation #ScienceEducation #FoodScience #PlantScience #SoilScience #Farming #CulinaryEducation #KidsCooking #FarmToSchool #AgClassroom #AgLiteracy #AITC The Bread Bakers Guild of AmericaNational Agriculture in the Classroom American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Whole Kids Foundation Pilot Light FoodCorps Life Lab Big Green Washington Ag in the Classroom California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (CFAITC) California Farm to School Edible Schoolyard NYC The Edible Schoolyard Project Center for Ecoliteracy

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3 months ago

Kirby School

Another wonderful Community Involvement day is in the books!Some of the activities students participated in to serve our community today:* Learned and practiced land stewardship (improve biodiversity, revegetation, weed removal)* Food preparation and distribution* Resource conservation* Home construction for low income families* Care and clean up of our community’s shared spacesThank you to these amazing local organizations and groups for their continued work to better our world through the lens of environmental advocacy and social justice: Coastal Watershed CouncilSave Our ShoresHomeless Garden ProjectEvergreen CemeterySan Lorenzo Valley Native Habitat Restoration ProgramGrey BearsLife LabSecond Harvest Food Bank Santa CruzHabitat for Humanity Monterey BayReStore Santa Cruz Home Improvement Store & Donation Centerwww.facebook.com/groups/SantaCruzFoodNotBombsSanta Cruz Museum of Natural HistoryCity of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation

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3 months ago

Readers To Eaters

Happy National STEM Day! #GoodFoodReads for #stemeducation: The Thing About Bees: A Love LetterFarmer Will Allen and the Growing TableBread LabBook info @ bit.ly/xoWr0H Find CurriculumMatrix for these titles @ National Agriculture in the Classroom bit.ly/3H0J9H4 ..#NationalSTEMDay #STEM #STEAM #stemeducation #scienceeducation #gardeneducation #environmentaleducation #MakerEducation #farmtoschool #agclassroom #agliteracy #AITC #FoodLiteracy #naeycAC The Alliance for a Healthier GenerationNational Science Teaching AssociationWSTA-Washington Science Teachers AssociationCalifornia Farm to School National Farm to School Network FoodCorps Big Green Life Lab Edible Schoolyard NYC The Edible Schoolyard Project Green Bronx Machine

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Stock up your Garden Classroom

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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