Wednesday, May 23 , 2018, 3:03 am | Fair 56º

 
 
 
 

In Greenlab Classroom, Mother Nature is Teacher

Food-growing program focuses on permaculture concepts and organic processes

Santa Barbara High School students at work in outdoor classroom.
Santa Barbara High School students at work in outdoor classroom. (Santa Barbara High School)

Built in 2016, Santa Barbara High School’s new outdoor learning facility, called GreenLab, is giving students an opportunity to take education out of the classroom and into the natural world.

Curriculum focuses on hands-on, student-led projects to produce food with minimal inputs. Student projects in food production, with an emphasis on permaculture concepts and organic methods, are led by science teacher Jose Caballero.

The GreenLab includes a large organic garden, a chicken coop and integrated chicken-tractor, beehives, three aquaponic systems, a massive compost program, six tower gardens, a production nursery, and an expanding orchard.

Students dive directly into projects every day at 7 a.m., with a minimum of direct instruction and a focus on direct physical engagement with their surroundings.

Current development goals include:

Orchard expansion, greater participation in on-campus waste diversion to the compost system, splitting and adding more hives, a renovating old greenhouse, community workshops and lecture series, a photovoltaic installation, and a compost tea system.

Also on tap are on-site cricket production for protein-rich animal feed, a rabbit hutch, and improvements to the irrigation system.

La Cuesta High School, in collaboration with Santa Barbara High, plans to launch a culinary academy, with hopes of cross-pollination with GreenLab.

GreenLab students accept a year of personal effort, and enjoy the fruits of their labor by taking produce home to their families, and occasionally celebrate the harvest with Wednesday morning omelette breakfasts and salad lunches.

Find out more at www.SBGreenLab.com.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​— Haley Fuller for Santa Barbara High School.

 

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