OUR STORY

A Chance Meeting. Changed Lives.

Trellis was founded in 2017 by Wendy Battaglia and Rachel Cochran. Both Wendy and Rachel were on individual journeys that led them to attend horticultural therapy training in Colorado. It was here that they connected over the life-changing practice of horticultural therapy.

Back in Atlanta, they discovered three pivotal things: 1) only a handful of horticultural therapy programs existed; 2) many human service organizations were interested in bringing the practice into their own organizations but didn’t know how or where to begin, and 3) opportunities for people with impaired mobility to engage in gardening were severely limited. 

It became clear that an organization was needed to support, educate and guide organizations and people in the design and creation of therapeutic gardening programs and accessible garden spaces to address these unmet needs.

OUR STORY

A Chance Meeting. Changed Lives.

Trellis was founded in 2017 by Wendy Battaglia and Rachel Cochran. Both Wendy and Rachel were on individual journeys that led them to attend horticultural therapy training in Colorado. It was here that they connected over the life-changing practice of horticultural therapy.

Back in Atlanta, they discovered three pivotal things: 1) only a handful of horticultural therapy programs existed; 2) many human service organizations were interested in bringing the practice into their own organizations but didn’t know how or where to begin, and 3) opportunities for people with impaired mobility to engage in gardening were severely limited. 

It became clear that an organization was needed to support, educate and guide organizations and people in the design and creation of therapeutic gardening programs and accessible garden spaces to address these unmet needs.

bird silhouette
OUR MISSION

Trellis uses the power of gardening and nature to enrich the lives of people living with disabilities.

OUR VISION

Everyone can get their hands in the dirt, enjoying the restorative benefits of nature.

bird silhouette
OUR MISSION

Trellis uses the power of gardening and nature to enrich the lives of people living with disabilities.

OUR VISION

Everyone can get their hands in the dirt, enjoying the restorative benefits of nature.

OUR TEAM

The People That Make Trellis Grow.

Wendy Battaglia

“I believe horticultural therapy can plant seeds of pride, patience, and possibilities, and cultivate hope and belief in tomorrow.”

WENDY BATTAGLIA, Executive Director and Co-Founder

As a child in Liverpool, England, she worked alongside her grandparents and parents as they tended to their gardens. When Wendy moved to the U.S in 1982, she used her art and design education from John Moores University to work as an event planner. When she returned to England in 2002 to care for her terminally ill mother she reconnected with her passion for gardening and redesigned her mom’s entire garden. Upon returning to the U.S., she earned her Master Gardener Certification and was hired as project manager for Connolly Landscapes, an Atlanta landscape architecture and design firm. Wendy reconnected to the therapeutic benefits of gardening while volunteering at Skyland Trail, a mental health treatment center in Atlanta that embraces Horticultural Therapy as a treatment. This led her to enroll in the Denver-based Horticultural Therapy Institute where she received a certificate in Horticultural Therapy.
Rachel Cochran portrait

“After my child sustained a traumatic brain injury, I saw the reality of isolation and the lack of opportunities for individuals with differing abilities to experience gardening and connect with nature. We can change this with the creation of new horticultural therapy programs.“

RACHEL COCHRAN, Director of Development & Program Evaluation and Co-Founder

Rachel grew up riding horses in Atlanta, which served as the foundation for her love of the outdoors. She worked as an environmental specialist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for 12 years. A gifted science writer, she began a career in grant writing and grant administration at Georgia Tech in 2011. In 2014, she enrolled in the Denver-based Horticultural Therapy Institute to obtain a certificate in horticultural therapy. There she met Wendy Battaglia and the two began to share their passion for horticultural therapy and ideas to grow the practice of HT in the Atlanta area. Rachel believes in the power of plants and gardening to heal us and has experienced this first hand. As an intern at The Frazer Center, she gardened with adults with intellectual disabilities, and at Skyland Trail, she led therapeutic gardening sessions for adults with mental illness. Rachel graduated from Georgia Tech and holds a Master of Science degree in soil science from the University of Georgia School of Forest Resources. She lives in Decatur with her husband Chuck and two teenage daughters.

Shelly Roberts
“I want everyone to be able get their hands in the dirt, no matter their circumstances.”

SHELLY ROBERTS,
Director of Programming & Volunteers

Shelly grew up in Florida and has been a gardener and outdoor enthusiast throughout her adult life. She graduated from Florida State University in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations, but quickly realized she just wanted to be outdoors. She started puttering around in her home garden and eventually helped to run the Good Things Community Garden in Decatur and became a Master Gardener with DeKalb County. Shelly began working at Trellis as a volunteer in 2019. Her grandmother had just moved to an assisted living home in Florida, and the home had no garden or enjoyable outdoor space. Shelly couldn’t build a garden for her grandmother in Florida, but she knew she could help people access the outdoors here in Atlanta. During those early volunteer days Shelly found that working with clients was just as beneficial to her as it was to them! She started a job with Trellis and pursued Horticultural Therapy training, receiving her certificate in HT in 2022. Shelly’s goal is to help people learn to use the outdoors to calm their bodies and lift their spirits.

Leah Clements portrait

LEAH CLEMENTS,

Metro Transitional Center Program Manager
Susan Germon portrait

SUSAN GERMON,

Volunteer
Board of Directors
Ashley Wiley

ASHLEY WILEY

Ashley is the marketing manager for a local nonprofit, Food Well Alliance and has over 10 years of marketing experience mostly from a corporate background. She has really enjoyed being able to apply her digital marketing expertise to support local farmers and gardeners. During her free time, she likes to read a good book, take walks with her dog, and visit her parents’ farm in South Carolina.

Christine Trotman

CHRISTINE TROTMAN

Christine Trotman graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and is currently the Associate Secretary to the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees. She is a proud mother of four and resides in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband, Floyd, and beloved dog Bono.  Christine was introduced to horticulture therapy during the time her daughter Eliana was an inpatient at the Shepherd Center. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting Atlanta’s coolest coffee shops and reading theology classics.

Morgan Ownbey

MORGAN OWNBEY

Morgan Ownbey, JD, MBA, is a corporate attorney at James-Bates-Brannan-Groover LLP, and assists clients throughout the Southeast. A lifelong Georgia native, Morgan attended Georgia College and Georgia State University. Motivated by his curiosity and dedication to working alongside others to accomplish their goals, Morgan finds fresh and exciting ways to bring visions into reality. Morgan seeks any way to be outdoors, whether in the garden, trail walks with his wife and son, or trout streams. During a fortuitous walk through Trellis’ Ability Garden, Morgan found a way to share in the joys of the dirt and outdoors with the Atlanta community.

Russell Hopson

RUSSELL HOPSON

Mr. Hopson is 20-plus year resident of the City of Atlanta with a passion for community advocacy. He has served as Neighborhood President for Historic South Atlanta, NPU-Y President, Co-Director of New Leaders Council of Atlanta, Atlanta Beltline 67 Board Member, Morehouse School of Medicine Prevention Research Center Community Coalition Board Member and a member of the Board of Trustees for Morehouse Healthcare. Among his honors, he was named to Outstanding Atlanta 2015 and given a Fulton County Distinguished Community Service Award in 2018. He is honored to serve on the Board of Trellis Horticultural Therapy Alliance.

Calvin Rouse III

CALVIN ROUSE, III

Calvin brings a diverse skill set to the Trellis Board with a focus on events, marketing and business development. His passion for food and cooking led him to the culinary arts world. He served as food stylist for the San Francisco Chronicle, as chef for Alton Brown’s Food Network show “Good Eats”, and as food photographer, recipe tester and recipe developer for chefs Virginia Willis and Scott Ryan. Calvin’s event experience includes several Atlanta Food and Wine festivals, Superbowl Taste of the NFL events, and Zac Brown Band fan events. To slow the pace of life and enjoy more regular family time, he switched gears and currently works in the field of marketing as a digital negotiator with Publicis Groupe.

Jenny DiLaura

JENNY DILAURA

Jenny DiLaura, MA, CCLS, CTRS, is a Certified Life Specialist with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist with over 10 years of experience treating individuals with a variety of disabilities, including patients living with brain and spinal cord injury at Atlanta’s Shepherd Center. Her goal is to provide fun and engaging programs that increase leisure skills, make the hospital experience less scary, and improve overall quality of life, for both patients and their families. When not working, Jenny loves spending time with her family and friends at cookouts, camping and all types of activities.