Lessons, educational garden tips, upcoming events, grant resources, program updates, and more in this issue of the Life Lab Garden Times.
With less options to harvest from the garden during the dim days of winter, we offer this seedy lesson. Learn about edible plant parts while practicing math skills. Lesson includes seed image cards and is adaptable to multiple grades.

Download lesson and seed cards

Making Garden Signs - Tips and Photos

Adding signs to your garden can add whimsy and educational messages. Here are some tips and a photo album of ideas to help you create signs that will stand up well in the out-of-doors.

Here are some favorite garden signs you can see in the gallery:

  • Redwood Elementary in Ft. Bragg has individual letter stakes where kids need to find each letter and stake in the word.
  • At the Garden of Eating, an ECE Center in Novato, laminated velcro signs have picto-graphs instructing kids what they can eat or do with the plants.
  • The tree o' tunes sign that we made by painting a discarded piece of plexiglass lasted for ten years (until a kid kicked it), the signpost made from branches added a nice touch.

Feeling Fine With Fresh Foods

Our Feeling Fine with Fresh Food Winter Field Trip helps students make the important connection between their health and the foods they choose. Classes explore our Garden Classroom and the UCSC Farm, and activities prepare students to make informed decisions about what they eat.

Download the pre/post visit lesson packet (25 pages) for 3rd-5th grades which includes:
  • Stone Soup recipe and class instructions
  • 8 nutrition education lessons
  • California health content standards

Recipe - Winter Squash Teacake

Contributed by Life Lab Staff, Filling Station Baker/Owner, and Civil Eats Writer Amber Turpin.

These are sweet and tasty, and make a great alternative to traditional cupcakes. Looking for other healthy snack ideas? Check out Healthy School Celebrations, Healthy School Snacks, or inquire to see if your school's food service will provide a healthy treat.

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup oil
1 cup winter squash puree
½ cup chopped dates, raisins, cranberries, etc. (optional)
½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or oat flour
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan or 9-inch bundt pan. In a large bowl, beat eggs with sugar. Add oil until well combined, then squash puree, dried fruit and nuts if using. In separate bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add wet mixture and stir just to combine. Pour into prepared pan and bake about one hour.

This batter can easily be made into cupcakes, just line and fill cupcake pans and bake 35-40 minutes. When cool, top with cream cheese frosting or whipped cream sweetened with a bit of honey or agave.

2011 Program Highlights2011 Program Highlights

Garden Classroom Program participants share what they value about our programs. View the report.

2011 Life Lab by the numbers:
  • 3,100 children participated in field trips and camps at our Garden Classroom.
  • 893 teens grew stronger, healthier and more inspired though "Food, What?!".
  • We trained 1,079 educators at our Garden Classroom and across the nation.

Life Lab to Lead California School Garden Training Program

Life Lab, along with organizational partners from the UC Davis Children's Garden Program and the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego, will train 1,500 educators, volunteers, parents and school garden support professionals throughout the state of California! From 2012 - Spring 2014 we will present the following workshops:
  • 9  Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden Workshops
  • 6  Creating and Sustaining Your School Garden Train-the-Trainers Workshops
  • 12  Garden-Enhanced Nutrtion Education Workshops
  • 6  Garden-Enhanced Nutrtion Education Train-the-Trainers Workshops
Sixty mini-grants will fund train the trainer attendees to replicate workshops in their own region.

Registration will be open by late February. Visit for more details or join our workshop eblast to be notified.

Shared Adventures Visits the Garden ClassroomShared Adventure Field Trip Photos and Post

Life Lab partnered with Shared Adventures, a local nonprofit which organizes recreation activities for people with special needs, to host an inclusive Farm-to-Fork Field Trip for 14 adults and 2 children from the special needs community. Despite mobility limitations, field trip participants explored the CASFS Farm and harvested a medley of fruits and vegetables to taste as they identified edible plant parts. One culinary highlight discovered on the visit was collard leaf wraps with sweet beets and yellow string beans inside…totally raw!
View the photos and read more.

January 2012 Photo-of-the-Month

"Food, What?!" Photo-of-the-Month

Do you believe in the power of youth? Are you interested in how food, agriculture, and community building can transform the lives of teens?

The Photo-of-the-Month is our monthly transmission to share one highlight, moment, or story, to offer you connection to the experiences we share at “Food, What?!”.
View the "Food, What?!" Photo-of-the-Month and sign up in the right hand column to get your monthly shot.

Meet John Fisher, Life Lab's Outreach Director

Outreach Director - John FisherJohn has done many-a-things at Life Lab since starting in 2000. Currently John works to share the magic that comes from working in a garden. Strangely enough it was in 1994 while living in Honduras that John was first exposed to Life Lab. Read more...

Events and Workshops

Garden Classroom Educator Workshops

Supporting English Learners in Science. Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Growing Classroom: An Introduction to Garden-Based Learning
. Thursday-Friday, March 22-23, 2012

Plant It, Grow It, Eat It!: Garden-Enhanced Nutrition Education - Spring Season. 
Friday, March 30, 2012

Science Inquiry in the Garden.
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sowing the Seeds of Wonder: Discovering the Garden in Early Childhood Education.
 Saturday, May 19, 2012

Farm to School Training

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables: A Centerpiece to a Healthy School Environment  These two-day workshops take place across California and promote farm to school efforts. February - March 2012.

Spring Break and Day Camp Registration Open

  • Spring Break Garden Sprouts Day Camp for 4-6 year olds - April 2 - 6, 2012
  • Wildlands and Watering Cans Summer Day Camp for 7-10 year olds - June 25 - August 3, 2012
  • Garden Sprouts Summer Day Camp for 4-6 year olds - June 25 - August 3, 2012
  • Farm and Wilderness Exploration Day Camp for 11-14 year olds - August 6 - 10, 2012
  • Summer Camp Youth Volunteers - One volunteer per session accepted
Learn more about our camps

Friends of the UCSC Farm and Garden Events

  • Fruit Tree Question and Answer February 25, 2012
  • Fruit Tree Grafting March 10, 2012
  • Seed Starting Workshop March 24, 2012
  • Backyard Chicken and Ducks March 31, 2012
  • How to Grow an Herb Garden April 1, 2012
  • Bees and Beekeeping April 14, 2012
Learn more

Two New Ways to Support Our Work

Renee's Garden Seeds support Life Lab!

Renee Shepherd is a longtime friend of Life Lab's programs, donating seeds for our kids and teachers to use every season. Now you can join with Renee to support Life Lab when you buy seeds from from Just peruse the online catalogue, place your order, and enter the Life Lab fundraising code, FR713B, in the coupon code box on the checkout page. Renees Garden will donate 25% of the value of your order to Life Lab!

GoodSearch - GoodShop - GoodDining ... Good for Life Lab!

Life Lab is now a member of, a wonderful charitable web site that lets you raise money for Life Lab every time you search the web! After a quick and easy free registration, just designate Life Lab as your charity of choice, and then start searching. We will receive a penny per search, which really adds up these days! And you can raise even more for Life Lab through GoodShop offers discount coupons from thousands of online businesses, which also donate 1 to 6% of each purchase to charity. Just start your online shopping from or, better yet use the easy toolbar in your browser, and your see the donations add up for Life Lab at no cost to you! Eating out? has you covered, too. Check out first, then use all three and we will all see the power of community as many little actions add up to big impacts.

Donate to Life Lab

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See what we are sharing - you don't have to be a member.

We've got a lot of videos to show you!

Grants for School Gardens

The California School Garden Network Grants and Fundraising Page lists some of the best garden-based learning grant resources plus much more to help your program raise funds.

Life Lab posts grant oppotunities that come across our desktops on Facebook. Scroll through our posts and look for "GRANT Opportunity"
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