Sunnyside Health and Rehabilitation Center brings nature indoors


Nursing residents at Sunnyside Health and Rehabilitation Center in Sarasota get a hands-on therapeutic connection to nature through innovative indoor gardening from Eldergrow, a national specialist in therapeutic horticultural gardens.

The Sunnyside Village Garden is the result of a million dollar grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Administration to LeadingAge Florida, a senior advocate for care for over 58 years old.

Residents engage with the Eldergrow Garden physically, socially, cognitively, creatively and spiritually.

“In this unprecedented time, it gives us reassurance that our residents can safely interact with nature throughout their days,” said J. David Yoder, Executive Director of Sunnyside Village. “Eldergrow and our amazing staff are now making this possible.

The program offers seniors a therapeutic connection to nature through enrichment courses in horticulture, culinary arts and the art of gardening. Studies show that therapeutic horticulture reduces depression, improves balance and reduces risk factors for dementia.

The project will implement therapeutic horticulture programs in 22 of LeadingAge Florida’s member nursing homes.

Sunnyside Village will maintain its garden and therapy program with the help of Eldergrow educators, who will give bi-monthly gardening classes to residents.

“We are excited to begin our new partnership with LeadingAge Florida to bring wellness inside Sunnyside Village,” said Eldergrow CEO and Founder Orla Concannon. “It easily reflects the innovative well-being that the community provides to its residents, because if you have a healthy garden, you know you have a healthy community! “

Sunnyside Village is a non-profit Christian seniors community. For more information, visit

Eldergrow’s programs center on mobile indoor gardens that are handcrafted in Washington by veterans and adults living with disabilities. LeadingAge Florida’s services include up-to-date regulatory information, training opportunities, and representation before legislature and government agencies to help member communities meet the needs of Florida’s senior population.

Submitted by Rod Thomson

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