Life Lab

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

Another 40 Years of Growing Healthy Inspired Children

Life Lab is a Growing Adventure. Our 40 year journey has inspired many nature based organizations, fostered youth involvement, and nurtured connections that have impacted many. We celebrate the diversity of knowledge, experience, and backgrounds that continue to make us a key partner for educators and organizations advancing garden-based education across the U.S. One of our founding goals has been to advocate school garden projects especially those impacted by funding which can lead to inconsistent enrollment and productivity.

Locally we do this through our Partner School Program. Life Lab’s Partner School Program strives to create a culture of structured garden-based learning in elementary schools to enhance science and nutrition education during school day instruction. This program is exemplified by our Life Lab Pajaro Valley Initiative which has grown from 5 schools to 7 year-round partner schools in PVUSD this fall.

What Life Lab Provides to Partner Schools

  • Scheduled NGSS lessons co-taught by Life Lab staff and Kinder-2nd grade school teachers.

  • Science lesson materials and garden literature library that are in alignment with district Science and Environmental Literacy Plans

  • Cooking and Nutrition units for 3rd – 5th grade classes

  • Opportunities for teachers to attend free Garden Classroom Educator Workshops.

  • Garden maintenance and technical support via our Garden Crew College Intern program

  • Online garden management and communication tools

  • Grant support

Amazing right!?  Our vision is to expand our Partner School Program to 40 public schools across Santa Cruz county.

Life Lab has grown from $500k annually in 2012 to $1M this year building organizational capacity and strength. We are mapping Life Lab’s path to becoming a $2.5M organization to meet our countywide vision while serving as a national leader through new long-term partnerships and support. This growth is made possible by funding from Sprouts’ Healthy Communities Foundation as well as our Whole Kids Foundation partnership which supports our annual national School Garden Support Organization Leadership Institute since 2016.

SGSO Network: A Learning Community of Support Garden Professionals

The SGSO Network was conceived in 2013 at the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, where school garden professionals convened to create a national network for supporting regional school garden programs. Through sharing resources and engaging in dialogue, the School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Network strives to eliminate redundancy and help facilitate regional-based school garden programs. The Network connects organizations and individuals that support multiple school garden programs at a regional, school district, or state level to join. “There is no one way to create and sustain school gardens,” states Life Lab Outreach Director John Fisher, founding member of the SGSO Network. “The recipe for a successful school garden program varies from region to region, but organizations often have similar needs such as acquiring funding, creating policy, training teachers, and creating valid assessment tools. Our Network’s goal is to create an ongoing dialogue to share best practices.”

SGSO 2018 group photo

Life Lab's Future Mission

Life Lab has trained and equipped teachers and in every state and in more than 20 countries for the effective use of garden classrooms to inspire a love of learning, healthy food, and nature. Forty more years from now, in 2059, Life Lab will have succeeded if every school district in the U.S. understands the value and potential of garden classrooms, every school wants one, and every teacher who has one has the resources and knowledge to use it well. It is one of greater health and well-being, as people’s understanding of food and their relationship with it supports their lifelong wellness. It is a world in which generations of children and adults together understand the role of science in their lives and the value of being good stewards of the environment. All of this is possible, one seed, one lesson, one taste, one connection and one donation at a time.

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Support Life Lab

Life Lab provides educator & public workshops, school gardens support, our Growing Classroom nature based curriculum, and teaches sustainability and nutrition! Be a part of this meaningful work changing lives through connections to nature and food.

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Gifts That Give Back

With the holidays approaching, you’re probably thinking about what gifts to get your loved ones this year. We all know finding the right gift for everyone on your list is never easy. Our limited edition, made to order Giving items are sure to be the perfect gift for your loved ones.

Gifts that give back send an inspirational message to younger gift givers and recipients that just one person can actually make a difference in the world.

You always have the option to make a donation to Life Lab, but there’s a special joy in giving a present that loved ones can use in their day to day life and cherish forever.

Your purchase will help grow healthy, inspired children.

Vintage Design Sweater

Pattern Tee Shirt

Carry Pouch

Other ways to give!

Wish List

Used items are welcomed and appreciated!

  • Metal Tipped Garden Trowels
  • Garden Shears
  • Owl Box
  • Foldable Utility Wagon (5)
  • Cordless Multi Line Phone
  • Costco Gift Cards
  • Passenger Van
  • Golf Cart for ADA support
  • Garden Water Feature
  • Walk-in Tool Sheds for Life Lab Partner Schools
  • Small Metal Tool Shed for Garden Sprouts Camp
  • Home Depot Gift Cards
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