Bringing farming into the classroom

Gizmo-CDA is a non-profit organization committed to developing project based learning (PBL) curriculum. With grant support from many community partners, they were able to purchase indoor growing farms and training to help teachers incorporate farm development into classroom learning.

Students are given the opportunity to build a growing farm and manipulate the key elements needed for growing vegetables (spectrum of light, humidity and heat, nutrition and water). Agricultural problems and questions are posed and answered. The project gives students the opportunity to build collaboration and communication skills, as well as creativity and perseverance. At the end of each growth cycle, the harvest provides results and students enjoy the healthy food from their labor.

“The teaching opportunities are vast,” said Barb Mueller, Gizmo-CDA executive director. “Students develop actionable, achievable goals, manage projects and have the ability to analyze the environment. Innovative project based learning is at the heart of preparing present and future generations to thrive!”

At one school, students applied the hydroponic growing farm to a project they were doing for a competition about solving problems in outer space. They integrated the garden into their project as one way to help improve mental health of long duration space explorers with “Happy Hydro.”

More than 3,000 middle school students in North Idaho will be gaining valuable project based learning using indoor hydroponic growing farms, sponsored in part by the Avista Foundation. The $4,600 grant to purchase the growing farms and train teachers is one of many investments made by Avista in 2018.

In 2018, the Avista Foundation contributed more than $1.97 million to health and human services, community vitality, youth, arts and culture, education and environmental projects and activities in our five-state service area, making a real difference in people’s lives. Funding for the Avista Foundation comes from shareholder dollars.

Learn more about the foundation here

Learn more


  1. Community