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Student Learning Grows in Santa Barbara High School’s GreenLab

The curriculum at Santa Barbara High School’s GreenLab focuses on hands-on, student-led projects. Click to view larger
The curriculum at Santa Barbara High School’s GreenLab focuses on hands-on, student-led projects. (GreenLab photo)

Built in 2016, Santa Barbara High School’s new outdoor learning facility, appropriately named GreenLab, is giving students an opportunity to take education out of the classroom and into the natural world. The curriculum focuses on hands-on, student-led projects to produce food with minimal inputs.

Student projects in food production are led by science teacher Jose Caballero with an emphasis on permaculture concepts and organic methods.

The space includes a large organic garden, a chicken coop and an integrated chicken-tractor, numerous beehives, three aquaponic systems, a massive compost program, six tower gardens, a large production nursery and a rapidly expanding orchard. Students dive directly into projects every morning at 7, with a minimum of direct instruction and a focus on direct physical engagement with their surroundings.

Current development goals include an orchard expansion, greater participation in on-campus waste diversion to the compost system, splitting and adding more hives, a renovation of the old greenhouse, community workshops and lecture series, a photovoltaic (solar) installation, a compost tea system, an on-site cricket production for protein-rich animal feed, a rabbit hutch and improvements to the irrigation system.

Students team up to move a cage at the GreenLab.
Students team up to move a cage at the GreenLab. (GreenLab photo)

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

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

Click here for more information about the GreenLab, or follow us it on Instagram @sbgreenlab.

— Haley Fuller represents the Santa Barbara High School GreenLab.

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Students involved with the GreenLab meet early each morning. Click to view larger
Students involved with the GreenLab meet early each morning. (GreenLab photo)

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