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First-of-Its-Kind Herb Garden Program Finds Roots in Merrill Gardens Partnership

SEATTLE–Merrill Gardens is the first senior-living organization to implement an innovative new culinary herb garden introduced by Eldergrow, an award-winning startup bringing nature indoors at senior living communities. The culinary herb garden is now in place in several of the senior living provider’s 33 communities in eight states.

This ground-breaking program includes a mobile, accessible indoor garden bed and comes with unique resources including recipes and activities that feature the Herb of the Month. The program allows senior residents to focus on the culinary aspect of gardening, playing off the growing farm-to-table movement. The herbs grown in the Eldergrow garden can then be used in the community dining program.

“It’s a bit like wine-of-the-month,” said Orla Concannon, Eldergrow’s CEO and founder. “Every month we send a new batch of fresh herbs to the communities along with recipes for the chefs and fun activities to engage residents. We want to make sure that anyone and everyone can enjoy the garden—no green thumbs necessary.”

“We are ecstatic about Eldergrow’s culinary herb garden program. It’s the perfect way to connect our chefs to our residents in meaningful ways, and offers opportunities for community-building activities,” said David Eskenazy, Merrill Gardens president. “The educational aspect is also important, recognizing the uses and cultures associated with these fresh herbs and recipes. We feel lucky to partner with Eldergrow in our communities.”

The value that Eldergrow brings to these communities is more than simply a garden club. Studies have shown that horticultural therapy reduces depression, improves balance, coordination and endurance, and can lower the risk factors for dementia by 36%.

In addition to the culinary herb Garden, Eldergrow offers the sensory garden, a hands-on wellness program providing onsite educators who teach therapeutic gardening classes and provide garden maintenance. The mobile gardens are handcrafted in Washington in partnership with a job training program that employs veterans and adults living with disabilities.

Eldergrow was founded in 2015 by CEO Orla Concannon with the purpose of bringing nature indoors to residential and long-term care settings. Now in 20 states and over 150 communities on the continental US, Eldergrow continues to provide more and more residents with meaningful connections to nature.

Eldergrow is driven by two innovative, therapeutic horticulture programs that feature mobile, indoor gardens. The original full-service therapeutic horticultural program comes with onsite Expert Educators and ongoing maintenance, while the new DIY culinary herb garden program is maintained and self-managed by communities with herbs and resources sent from Eldergrow monthly.