Meet Orla, the founder of Eldergrow

Updated: May 28, 2020

Meet Orla.

Orla is the founder of Eldergrow. Orla saw the need to connect elders living in facilities with the healing properties of nature and she studied the evidence-based benefits of horticultural therapy at Legacy Health Hospital in Portland OR, in their Gerontolgoy Department. Orla's love for her grandmother and her passion to help elders thrive were the inspiration for Eldergrow.

Orla’s passion for eldercare began when her Irish grandmother spent her last years in a nursing home. Their special bond paved the way for Orla’s career, which has included senior roles for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Aegis Senior Living, and other senior care organizations. Orla saw the need to connect elders living in facilities with the healing properties of nature and she studied the evidence-based benefits of horticultural therapy at Legacy Health Hospital in Portland, OR in their Gerontology Department.

Orla graduated from Seattle University in 2015 with a Healthcare Executive MBA. While in graduate school, she created Eldergrow as her business plan which won 1st Place Audience Award and 2nd Place Judges Award at the 17th Annual Harriet Stephenson Business Competition (Orla and Harriet pictured above).

Eldergrow successfully completed University of Washington's Jones & Foster Accelerator Program for Innovative Start-Ups and was awarded seed money. Orla’s passion, matched by a team of expert Eldergrow Educators, has propelled Eldergrow into a flourishing business.

Eldergrow™ offers residents a therapeutic connection to nature through innovative gardening products & services. The mobile, sensory garden brings nature inside 12 months a year. Eldergrow Educators teach evidence-based, therapeutic horticulture classes that improve life for our growing community of elders living in residential and nursing care. Residents engage in meaningful ways with the Eldergrow garden: physically, socially, cognitively, creatively, sustainably, and spiritually.

Our team of Eldergrow Educators offer therapeutic gardening classes with seasonal plant deliveries and garden maintenance. Evidence-based Benefits of Therapeutic Horticulture: • Improves motor skills • Reduces risk factors for dementia • Elevates mood • Improves sleep • Reduces falls • Reduces agitation • Improves self-esteem • Acts as an antidepressant

Culinary Garden

Showcase your community's dining with a fresh culinary herb garden - bring 'farm to table' to a whole new level! • We ship 'Herb of the Month' with complementary programming • The mobile, indoor garden is tailored with a custom grow light • Culinary program includes recipes & class activity ideas • Chefs use mobile herb garden during cooking demos for residents • Activities staff leverage ethnic garden theme for calendar and events

Therapy Garden

About the Therapeutic Sensory Garden: Our therapeutic sensory garden is part of our therapeutic horticulture program, which includes onsite Educators who teach therapeutic gardening classes and provide garden maintenance. • Handcrafted by disabled veterans and other adults living with disabilities • Accessible for seated, wheeled, or standing gardeners • Environmentally-friendly garden: Sustainably sourced and energy efficient • Mobile: Large, safety-locking wheels allow for easy relocation around the community • Safe: Non-toxic plants and organic soil • Weatherproof: Gardening twelve months a year!

Article Submitted by Mary Coupland

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