Ask a young child where carrots come from and you’re likely to hear a correct, but incomplete, answer: “The grocery store!”

BES 4th grade teacher Aaron Jones and his students show their enthusiasm for the new school gardens.

Not so for any of the children attending Belmont Elementary School (BES). The growing cycle of fruits, vegetables, and flowers of all kinds will be part of their everyday curriculum thanks to the recent addition of a school garden.

In the winter, BES partnered with Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center to apply for a grant from The Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. The school and Prescott Farm have worked together for 17 years as part of the Naturalist in the Classroom program. Last spring, Prescott Farm’s Andie Hession led first and third grade learners in planting a few radishes and greens, which sprouted school-wide interest to scale up their growing space and make it accessible to all of the school’s 417 Pre-K – Grade 4 learners.

Hession, who is the School and Community Programs Director at Prescott Farm, learned of the Lowe’s grant opportunity and brought it to the attention of the BES staff. She then helped the school create a plan and write the grant. The $5,000 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education® grant funded the materials needed to build 10 raised bed gardens. BES is one of 586 schools across the United States to be awarded a Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant during its spring 2019 grants cycle for improvement projects.

BES first grade teacher Laurie Hodgman was among the instrumental staff members who helped make the garden a reality. The coordination, enthusiasm, and cooperation from the entire community was notable, said Hodgman. “Our PTO’s annual Playground Party was combined with a “Garden Bed Building” Party. We were able to accomplish so much in just a few hours’ time because of the many helping hands.”

BES Principal Ben Hill noted that the staff of the Tilton Lowe’s was also an incredible asset to the project. “The support of community partners like Lowe’s is so important for our school, enabling us to provide students with engaging learning opportunities that they would not otherwise receive.  The willingness of our staff and community to put in extra time and effort on projects like this is also inspiring for me as the principal at Belmont Elementary School.” 

BES Teacher Laurie Hodgman’s first graders are guided by Prescott Farm’s Andie Hession (far right) as they plan peas in the school’s new raised beds.

After the PTO building party, Prescott Farm’s Hession organized classes for two planting days. “For many students, this was their first experience planting outside,” Hession said. “I can’t wait to see the pride and excitement on their faces when they return in the fall and see what has become of the tiny seeds they put in the ground!”

Come September, Kindergarten through fourth grade classes will be responsible for two 4’ x 8’ raised beds each. The gardens will be used as a teaching tool across the curriculum. In the meantime, some BES families have volunteered to be garden caretakers over the summer to ensure that students have healthy plants to return to.

Since its inception in 2005, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education has provided more than $60 million in grants to more than 13,000 schools, benefiting more than 6 million schoolchildren.    

Since 1957, Lowe’s Gives Foundation has helped improve communities across North America through financial contributions and support for employee volunteerism.

About Lowe’s in the Community

Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 60-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. In the past decade, Lowe’s and Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed nearly $300 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. For the latest news, visit or follow @LowesMedia on Twitter.

About Prescott Farm

Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center is a nonprofit organization that is committed to environmental education and preservation. Prescott Farm is dedicated to providing year-round environmental education programs for all ages and a place in the Lakes Region community that encourages curiosity, discovery, fun and connection to the natural world. Since 1997 we have helped awaken appreciation for nature and concern for the environment in thousands of program participants with a wide range of programs designed to preserve and pass down knowledge and skills that encourage an understanding of the natural systems that sustain us all and respect for the environment. Prescott Farm – exploring and preserving the natural world, one adventure at a time.

About Belmont Elementary School

Belmont Elementary School is a Title I Pre K – 4 school in the Shaker Regional School District. The mission of BES is to engage all learners to succeed in their ever changing world. BES is committed to fostering healthy habits and community engagement and seeks outside sources of funding to provide students with opportunities they may otherwise miss.