Senior Care Facilities

Delivering a 24/7/365 Activity

Gardening: the #1 hobby in the US and enjoyed by more people than almost any other undertaking. The challenge as the population ages is that physical limitations often cause seniors to stop doing their favorite activity. In fact, Eco Garden Systems created our raised bed garden for the exact reason – one of our family members had to give up gardening because she could no longer bend, stoop or crawl around in the garden. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention and it certainly is true with our Original Garden.

We start with waist height construction (top lip is 39” off the ground – roughly the height of any kitchen countertop). This, combined with our sturdy construction (our Original Garden weighs 1,500 pounds when full – and provides a sturdy leaning post for those who need it) create a perfect platform for senior gardening. At 4’ x 6’ just about everyone can reach into the middle of the garden from any side – a feature that is critical for the people in your care. Surprisingly we see too many institutional gardens built with good intentions but not a well thought out plan on how your residents can work them. We have seen most turned into tree planters – because they were the wrong dimensions to allow folks to easily work the space while standing next to it.

So, there is clearly a need – but how does that need manifest for you (owner, activities director, facility manager, etc.)? Imagine your guests having one garden for every 20 beds – this allows several people to work the garden and provides a visual daily activity for the others. Now imagine the joy your team and guests will feel knowing they can safely work the garden every day of the year – providing hours of self-directed entertainment with wonderful outcomes – beautiful flowers or the freshest food available anywhere.

Providing a 24/7/365 activity

From our conversations with owners and managers of care facilities (senior or otherwise) the biggest challenge most facilities face is how to keep their guests active, busy, healthy and happy. Having one or more raised bed gardens can make this happen. There is so much more to gardening that just watching plants grow that your facility will soon be recognized as a place where everyone can engage in keeping the garden healthy and “different”. You may be asking “how will this keep folks busy in the Winter months?”. We have information on every stage of the gardening process:

  • Planning – community debate will help craft the perfect plan for the gardens every year. From what staples to plant to new varieties to try to companion and succession planting, the planning phase will create a wonderful sense of community and allow your gardeners to experiment and work together towards shared outcomes.
  • Review – lifelong learning is said to be a critical component of aging and memory function. Learning how to best maximize your new gardens, your guests will be constantly learning about how all of the elements of gardening come together to grow a garden’s bounty.
  • Ordering Seeds – there are as many free seed catalogs as there are leaves on the trees. With a little computer help (or computer use for your tech-savvy guests) each gardening team can study the available seeds, seed styles (heirloom, hybrid, Organic, etc.) and new varieties to tickle the taste buds. The anticipation, excitement, conversation and decision making will provide a wonderful experience for all of your guests.
  • Planting – whether starting seeds indoors (this can be a six to 12-week process all on its own) or direct planting when the weather permits, this is an exciting time. An Eco Garden Systems’ Original Garden allows your teams to maximize what gets planted – allowing for a much larger bounty than in traditional gardens.
  • Companion and Succession Planting – these two pieces are part and parcel to any garden plan. Determining which products grow best together (and which varieties do not play nice) and what to do as certain products cycle through before the end of the year, there will always be more plans to make and discuss.
  • Nurturing Plants – this is often the most fun part (at least from an outsider’s perspective). Taking care of emerging plants, making sure nutrients are plentiful, creating compost from kitchen leftovers (did you know used coffee grounds are a great source of instant nutrients for plants – sort of like a chocolate chip cookie, quick energy as a snack during growing) and keeping your growing plants healthy and productive will yield a lot of daily fun and the most product from the garden(s).
  • Harvest – now that your plants are producing, what do you do with the bounty? Can you use it in the kitchen? Can you partner with a local church or shelter to donate? Can you offer it to guests for a fresh snack? The opportunities are many – and the teamwork can continue here to help benefit everyone involved.
  • Nest Year – like a resigned sports team fan (think Mets, Twins or other team that seems destined for post-season futility) there will also be “Next Year”. The teams can review current performance, add things learned this year and recast the plan for next year – with sights set on another prolific growing season and bounty to share all around.

Is gardening a good activity for seniors or others in a facility?

There is a recent analysis done (2016) by three experts in the value of “nature” and “health outcomes”. This trio review 76 different studies and compiled the results of all studies in terms of the benefits of gardening (the nature part) with overall well-being (the health outcomes part). What they discovered is nothing short of astonishing:

  • The preponderance of evidence shows that daily gardening has an overall positive impact on health
    • Mental well-being
    • Physical activity
    • Sense of purpose
    • Sense of community/building communities
    • Relief of stress and anxiety
    • Physical health and well-being
  • Additionally, there are long-term effects as well – a regular practice of gardening in seniors creates positive outcomes and these outcomes last for three plus months after the activity stops
  • This correlates with the known impact of spending time outdoors and overall health
  • There was a focus on seniors in all of the studies – and the impact on seniors was even more profound as the “sense of purpose” outcome led to all sorts of benefits including reduction in social isolation (and the negative outcomes associated with that) as well as improved memory function

For your facility, you can begin to create these positive outcomes for a relatively small investment in equipment (Eco Garden Systems’ Original Gardens) and a bit of dedication to get folks started. What are you waiting for?

Gardening as an investment

While most senior centers are similar to other not-for-profit groups – being chronically short of funds and resource – the establishment of a set of raised bed gardens is not really a “cost” but rather an investment in the future of the facility. This investment not only provides benefits to today’s guests but also provides a competitive advantage when families are seeking care solutions for their aging friends and relatives.

With a 20+ year lifespan, an Eco Garden will provide activities and outcomes for many years – take a look at the table below for an example.

  • Size – 110 beds
  • Occupancy – 90%
  • # of Gardens – 5
  • Average length of residence – 30 months
  • Total cost of gardens – (4 x $1,795) + (1 x $295) = $7,475
  • Annual cost for gardens: $7,475/20 = $373.75
  • Average cost per resident: $7,475/800 = $9.34

For $9.34 per resident, this is one of the best investments you will ever make for providing continuous activities for everyone in your facility.

Safety: Is an Eco Garden safe for my guests?

Our raised bed garden is the perfect height for anyone with physical limitations. Additionally, our sturdy construction will provide a safe leaning space so the risk of falling is minimized. Plus, we have an easy “hack” that let’s you establish a garden for guests in wheelchairs allowing them to garden again and reach just about everything from one of the sides.

We believe in making gardening easy and accessible for all seniors – and safety is one of the first things we look at when developing the garden, the cover and any of the other accessories on our drawing board!

The Eco Gardens Systems “Eco System”

What makes our product unique on the market? We have compiled an entire segment on this – check out the points of difference that make up our Eco System.

Finally, our product is proudly fabricated and assembled in the United States – in fact, our plant is located in a small town in Central Minnesota – creating sustainable jobs in manufacturing, order processing, supply chain and fulfillment.

If you own or work with a senior care center, we want to work with you to get our gardens working for you – to provide the best life-experience to your guests, peace of mind for their families and a community building activity for everyone.

Where can I download a brochure?

We have created a brochure especially for Community Centers like yours who want to embrace gardening. View our eMagazine Eco Garden System for Senior Centers for specs and benefits for your industry. Contact us to talk about your needs or place your order!

Our Partners

Our System

The original Eco Garden will transform the way you garden. Quick and simple to setup, sustainable, and efficient — this garden is for any level of gardener.

Who We Are

Started in 2016, Eco Garden Systems has a long history of gardening, gardening innovation and gardening for seniors.

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