Garden Classroom and CDE Regional Training Center
Both the Center and the Life Lab Science Program have long worked to train educators, students of all ages, and the general public in plant- and garden-based science and nutrition education. In 2000, the Life Lab Garden Program and the Center collaborated to create the 2-acre Garden Classroom to serve as a model educational garden and as a site for public outreach and training related to garden-based learning. The kitchen component of the Garden Classroom was completed in 2002, enhancing nutrition-based learning and training on the Central Coast.
Since its founding, the Garden Classroom has become a popular destination for field trips, workshops, and tours, serving over 3,000 students and hundreds of educators annually. Teachers take part in educator workshops at the Garden Classroom to learn garden-based science and nutrition lessons they can take back to their own classrooms and school gardens. And many visitors come to see the way that a garden can serve as an outdoor science learning center and basis for nutrition education.
In 2006, the Garden Classroom joined the San Diego Resource Conservation District and the UC Davis Children’s Garden Program as a California Department of Education (CDE) Regional Training Center in Nutrition Garden Based Learning. CDE funds for this effort will support educator resources coordinated by the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (the Center), targeting public school educators and students in grades K-8 in the Central Coast counties of Santa Cruz, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Benito, and San Mateo.
One of the newest Life Lab and CASFS collaborations is "Food What?!", a youth empowerment program using food, through sustainable agriculture and health, as the vehicle for bringing about personal growth and transformation.