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Life Lab

      What is Life Lab?

        Life Lab is an important part of the history of the Live Oak School District, and an active component of outdoor education at each site within our district. It is also a non-profit organization based on the UCSC campus, that provides myriad supports and resources toward promoting garden based education.


   The origins of Life Lab began at Green Acres Elementary, in 1979!  Inspired educators and an open-minded administration totally transformed what was essentially a degraded dirt parking lot into a beautiful garden and outdoor education space. The ball had already been rolling in the Live Oak community, in fact, with the first ever farmers' markets in Santa Cruz County that were located at Live Oak Elementary around 1975. At that time organic agriculture was happening all over Live Oak! and it was these farmers and a Live Oak School Board alumni Barney Bricmont who would eventually be the catalyst for the California Organic Foods Act of 1979. 

    The pilot program at Green Acres inspired similar "garden classrooms" at many other schools in Santa Cruz county, where students could learn about science, math, environmentalism, and healthy living, in an outdoor garden based setting. And while we still commonly refer to our school garden classroom as "Life Lab", it has since transformed into a robust non-profit located on the campus of UCSC. Life Lab trains and educates people from around the world to deliver quality outdoor education in garden based settings. Check them out here.

     The Life Lab at Del Mar Elementary  boasts nearly 20 raised bed garden boxes situated at its fore, a fruit tree orchard and in ground plantings, dominate the "back 40".  At nearly a quarter acre we are sized just right to incorporate our small greenhouse, tool shed, wash station, and soon... an outdoor kitchen. TK-5th grade students are led by Farmer Jake in hands on lessons where we start food and flowers from seeds, and care for them until the time where we can harvest and enjoy them right in there in the garden, or deliver to our food service staff where produce is incorporated into our school meals. 

   If you are interested in knowing more or volunteering please contact Farmer Jake

1st tomato harvest of 2023

Mr. Chaney's class harvests tomatoes in August

Mycology Studies


Kinder class plants pumpkins!