The Edible Learning Lab program is an immersive, get-your-hands-dirty learning space where students explore the deconstructed food production process. The curriculum includes 274 Lessons and 8 Learning Stations including Seed Starting, Vermiculture, Raised Planters, Hydroponics, Composting, Rain Harvesting, Seed Saving Library, and Teaching Kitchen.
The Edible Learning Lab is one of my favorite programming decisions. Best revenue stream for an after-school program I have ever seen – It truly allows an organization to diversify their funding in the midst of learning quality life skills. It is amazing.
– Lisa Mueller, Boys & Girls Club of the Big Horns, CEO 2013-2015
Why your school needs edible education and an Edible Learning Lab
Not sure if edible education has a place at your school?
It does, and bringing edible education into your classroom is much easier than you think.
Food education is the most powerful way to affect positive change in kids’ lives. Developing a hands-on relationship with food builds an essential skill set that kids will take with them into adulthood having a profound impact on their health and wellness for years to come.
As food related disease continues to gain a stronger grasp on our youngest generation, don’t you think it’s time to make a change? Don’t kids deserve to be armed with the knowledge and skills to break the cycle? We certainly think so.
Every school needs to provide edible education. Period. Of course, we believe there are countless reasons why your school needs an Edible Learning Lab. Here are a few:
- Revenue – You bet! What other program can you think of that has the potential to generate revenue? The Edible Learning Lab functions not only as an immersive classroom but also as a small scale farm providing fresh local produce that can be sold at farmers’ markets, to local grocers and restaurants, or directly to families in the community.
- Confidence – Student Confidence, a measure that we track carefully in each Edible Learning Lab, soars as student work through the curriculum. In fact, we designed the curriculum to do just that, foster student confidence. It’s the cornerstone of social cognitive theory and the framework on which we built the entire program.
- Academic Enrichment – Every day in the Lab is unique. Some days are filled with new challenges that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. One thing that is constant is the need for students to solve problems, work together, make calculations on the fly, and choose the best course of action knowing that the answer is anything but certain. The daily operation of the Edible Learning Lab leverages and builds on students’ knowledge of math, reading, engineering, science, technology, and ability to reason. It’s a perfect compliment to the instruction they get in the classroom during the school year.
- Engagement – A surprising thing happens when the doors of an Edible Learning Lab open for the first time. Proud parents, curious community members, and invested civic leaders find their way into the Lab. They explore, and then without fail, they ask how they can support the program. Folks volunteer in the classroom. Parents drop in with pictures of their children’s gardens at home. Customers come from all corners of the community including restaurants.
Allow me to paint the picture for you
Not sure what students actually do or learn while they are in the Lab?
Students explore the entire food production process from seed to table.
Modern Steader launched the first Edible Learning Lab at the Boys & Girls Club in Buffalo, WY in October, 2015. The equipment for the hydroponics, raised planters, vermicomposting and hot composting, and seed starting stations was in place within 60 days and production was underway by late December. Students in the Boys & Girls Club Afterschool Program rotated down in groups of 6-10 each day after school to learn about the deconstructed food production process.
By summer break at the end of May 2016, just 8 months after opening the Edible Learning Lab, milestones had been set:
- Students have started more than 5000 plants from seed
- More than 100 lbs of produce has been harvested and sold to local restaurants
- Students have grown and tasted more than 87 varieties of fruits and vegetables
- More than 150 lbs of compost have been cured and used in the Lab
- 1200 seedlings were started in the Lab and sold to local gardeners
- All 203 Second Graders from Meadowlark Elementary have attended a class in the Lab
- A group of 12 homeschool students have attended a weekly “double session” in the Lab since March
- More than 200 community members have toured the Edible Learning Lab with an average of 3 new tours a day
Are you with me? Do you see the bigger picture? Of course you do! Take a look inside our first Edible Learning Lab in Buffalo, WY.
Unsure if the curriculum is robust enough for your school’s vision of edible education?
The curriculum includes 274 lessons K-12 covering hundreds of concepts, many of which can be explored as micro-lessons.
We built the Edible Learning Lab Curriculum to help students master the fundamental concepts of food production creating a lasting relationship with food and the knowledge to make informed decisions that will affect their lifelong health and wellness.
To promote that mission, our Beginner Lessons focus on the core concepts. Once students have mastered those concepts, they move on to the Intermediate Lessons where they experiment and prove the concepts. Ultimately, students work through the Advanced Lessons to apply those very concepts that they learned and experimented to prove in order to benefit their class, school, and community.
The 2017 Edition of the Edible Learning Lab Program explores the full cycle of food production including:
- Starting plants from seed
- Growing plants in soil-based and hydroponic systems
- Reducing waste and recapturing nutrients with compost and vermiculture systems
- Tending and harvesting crops using practices that foster maximum yields
- Transforming raw produce into nutritious meals with basic kitchen skills
- And ultimately fostering a positive impact on the students and the local community
The Edible Learning Lab Curriculum is supported by articles, videos, podcasts, and teaching aids to help prepare the instructor for each lesson. The Resource Library is the keystone of our Teach the Teacher approach. When you need more guidance, we’ll be there to help you.
Not sure exactly how the Lab is setup? Don’t understand how it all works?
Our program focuses on 8 Stations, each with a dedicated curriculum.
The Edible Learning Lab is more than a classroom. It’s a place to get your hands dirty, to learn by actually doing. Students learn through success and failure as the natural process of food production unfolds through an integrated system of Learning Stations that include:
- Seed Starting
- Soil Management
- Water Management
- Seed Saving Library
- Teaching Kitchen
Don’t know where to start or how to develop the plan you need to secure funding?
Modern Steader will guide you through the planning process and develop an actionable Roadmap.
Our Roadmap Development service is designed to provide you with a formalized action plan to move you from concept to classroom. The Roadmap will be instrumental in helping you win internal funding or the greenlight to pursue outside funding for the initial phase of your Edible Learning Lab.
Here are the broad strokes:
- Discovery Call – An initial assessment of internal champions, space, funding, instructors, and green assets.
- Strategy Session – Initial recommendations from the MS Team. Determination of approach: concept lab or full production lab. Drafting of Initial Roadmap framework.
- Champions Presentation – Team meeting to review the draft of the Initial Roadmap and win additional internal champions from key departments. Post presentation follow up call.
- Scope of Project – Development of Initial Space Plan, revenue potential, and estimated costs including equipment, installation, training, and recurring expenses.
- Program Presentation – Formal presentation of the Initial Roadmap to all stakeholders, including the Scope of Project and estimated timeline.
The Roadmap contains all the revenue projections, cost estimates, and equipment inventory you will need to draft and submit a grant request for funding.
The Space Plan
Don’t know how to get the most out of your space or even where to start?
Modern Steader will draft a space plan that maximizes the efficiency of your classroom.
We designed the flagship Edible Learning Lab in Buffalo, WY to fit the space we had available to us. But we recognized that not all programs will have the same space to work with so we designed a few other layouts. These designs might work perfectly for your space and budget or at the very least should provide you with concepts that help you budget for a future Lab.
When you’re ready, our Team will help you maximize the use of the space you have available. Our Space Planning Service allows accurate equipment estimates, maximizes efficient use of space, encourages good traffic flow and user interface, reveals hidden potential within a given space, and makes the space more attractive. Let’s get started on a space plan for your Lab today.
The Equipment and Installation
Not sure what equipment you will need or how to install it?
Modern Steader will order all of your equipment and install it for you.
Modern Steader built the first Edible Learning Lab from the ground up, carefully selecting equipment from a variety of vendors based on first-hand experimentation. We tested hydroponics, planter designs, composting vessels, and even seeds from numerous seed banks. We spent countless hours refining each Station so that it could be replicated with predictable results at any Lab, in any location.
The result is a well defined equipment list for each Station sourced from a short list of vendors that we know and trust. The best part, we will do the equipment orders for you. No need to worry about getting everything you need or what the total cost might be. We will handle it all for you.
The Initial Training
Don’t have anyone on staff that understands the growing process well enough to teach it?
Modern Steader will teach your entire staff how to use the Lab as a classroom and how to maintain the systems.
Once all of your equipment has been delivered, installed, and tested it’s time to learn how to use and manage it. The Modern Steader team will schedule a two-day intensive training session that will be open to any staff that will participate in the management, maintenance, or use of your Edible Learning Lab.
This two-day training session is typically held a few weeks after the installation of equipment to ensure that all systems and processes are operating optimally.
Training is held in the Lab primarily though some topics may be covered in a classroom setting. Here are some of the topics that are covered during the two-day training:
- Exploration of the food production process
- Operating and maintaining the equipment
- Troubleshooting common problems with equipment and plants
- Building killer lesson plans with the Resource Library
- Lesson integration with core standards (STEM, SEL, SCT)
- Single session lesson integration and crossover (how to tie lessons together)
- Harvesting data that you can use
At the conclusion of the two-day training event, your staff will know how to manage the daily operation of the Lab and how to effectively leverage it as a classroom.
The Ongoing Support
What if we need help in the future or if something goes wrong?
Modern Steader will provide ongoing support for as long as you need it.
We built the Edible Learning Lab program around the concept of Teach the Teacher. We’ll teach you what you need to know in order to grow food in your Lab. You synthesize that information with the help of our 274 Lessons and 250+ Supporting Articles to present each lesson in the way that only you can to engage the Students in your program. We’ll teach you so you can teach them.
When you need additional support we’ll be here to help. Our website is packed with guidance including the Teacher’s Lounge forum or you can solicit help directly from the Modern Steader Team when you need it. Our Gold Subscription even includes weekly one-on-one lesson planning calls with Tim Miner, one of Modern Steader’s founders.
Let’s discuss the possibilities