Located in the Appalachian foothills of Southeast Ohio, Tenderfoot Learning Lab’s mission is to educate learners of all ages and backgrounds to live and work sustainably, with consideration for the social, economic, and environmental well-being of their local and global communities.  We seek to improve access to higher education in the Appalachian region by addressing common barriers, including affordability and a cultural preference for experiential learning.

We Love Food

Because eating is a universal experience, we’ve put food at the heart of our programs.  It’s a great entry point for living more sustainably.  Here at Tenderfoot, we grow food, we cook it from scratch, we teach classes about it, we try new recipes in our #tenderfoottestkitchen, and we share our creations while gathered around our beautiful, handmade dining table built from local hardwoods.  We use organic growing methods – no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides – and we raise free-range chickens who supply us with eggs of varied colors and sizes.  In the kitchen, we use hand tools to demonstrate how much energy goes into simple actions we often take for granted.  We don’t own a microwave, but people seem to love our stove-top popcorn.

For ingredients that we don’t produce on-site, we rely on our area’s extensive network of sustainable farms.  Southeast Ohio produces an impressive bounty of organic, conscientiously-produced food.  We can get nearly everything locally – vegetables, fruit, honey, maple syrup, mushrooms, grains, beans, dairy, meat, even our popcorn!  The Athens Farmers Market is a treasure trove that allows us to cook and eat within our values.

Sustainable Living Experiences

Residential Programs 

Residential participants get to experience a lifestyle that is likely very different from their own, learn useful life skills, and earn affordable college credit*. With the guidance and expertise of our live-in staff, participants manage a garden, cook for each other, and work on infrastructure to produce energy.  Students also take classes that explore how sustainability is relevant to their own academic majors, professions, and communities.  To answer a common question, a day-in-the-life goes something like this:

9 am – 12 pm
12 pm – 2 pm
2 pm – 5 pm
5 pm – 7 pm
7 pm –

Work Teams: Garden, Kitchen, and Infrastructure
Lunch & Break
Class Time (experiential and in-class activities)
Dinner & Break
Recreation, Reflection, & Relaxation

We offer programs in durations of 1 week, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and full semesters (15 weeks). 
If you represent an institution interested in providing this experience to your students, please visit our Partners page for more information!

Short-Term Programs 

Our short-term programs include half-day, single-day, and weekend programs. Past programs have included volunteer days, food preservation classes, Date Night-style cooking classes, group hikes, community campfires, and festivals. For the latest info on short-term programming, check out our events page or request a custom workshop for your group!

Follow us @tenderfootlearninglab on Instagram & Facebook for the latest info on our events and programs.

*Tenderfoot Learning Lab is not a credit-granting institution.  For students seeking college credit, we work with your home institution in advance of your arrival at Tenderfoot to determine how your sustainable semester/spring break/summer break will be credited.