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The Farm at Penny Lane Greenhouse
The Farm at Penny Lane Greenhouse

Hope Grows Here

Six miles from the UNC Chapel Hill campus, the UNC Farm at Penny Lane sits on a nearly 40-acre property, UNC Penny Lane Campus, in Pittsboro, N.C. The property is being developed as a respite with therapeutic programs and activities for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. The Farm at Penny Lane Video

Staff and volunteers broke ground and planted a community garden in the fall of 2012. The farm also include: a greenhouse, a high tunnel, a flock of heritage-breed chickens, and a walking trail.

Most of the food grown at the farm is provided to individuals receiving services through the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health.

Participants in most Penny Lane programs are limited to Center clients, with referrals made by Center clinicians.

Farm Tours

Tour the farm on Thursday afternoons. Please contact the Farm Program Manager, Matt Ballard to schedule a visit or call 919-445-0665.


For additional program information, contact: Farm Program Manager Matt Ballard, Operations Director Thava Mahadevan.

Current Programs

To register for a group, or if you have any questions: Contact Farm Program Manager Matt Ballard, 919-533-9397 (Google Voice)


Brushes with Life
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Remote/Virtual)
Through this visual arts group, participants can find healing and move toward recovery. Artists select a wide range of media to convey their experiences and feelings. All skill levels are encouraged. Supplies will be provided.

Music and Writing Open Mic
1:00 – 2:00 PM (Remote/Virtual)
This open mic session provides participants the creative space to play an instrument, sing, and read poetry or prose with each other. All skill levels are encouraged.

Farm Crew
3:00 – 4:30 PM (In-Person at Farm)
Farm Crew is a therapeutic and vocational group for individuals wanting to learn and practice gardening skills in a supportive environment.



Emotional Resiliency Skills
1:00 – 2:00 PM (Remote/Virtual)
This group focuses on learning and/or increasing self-management skills for anxiety reduction, mindfulness or relaxation strategies and other resiliency practices for living in the moment.

4:00 – 5:00 PM (Remote/Virtual)
This group focuses on using yoga to promote wellness and reconnect the mind and body. Sessions may include gentle stretching and twisting, breathing techniques and guided imagery. Beginners encouraged to attend.



Simple, Healthy Cooking
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM (Remote/Virtual)
This group provides education and instruction for simple, healthy meals on a limited budget with seasonal produce. Cook along and socialize with each other in our own kitchens. Staff will deliver produce from the Farm at Penny Lane to use for the session.

Interpersonal Skills through Personality Theory
1:00 – 2:00 PM (Remote/Virtual)
Participants will learn about several personality theories to gain insight about themselves and others, plus practice interpersonal skills such as communication and conflict
management flexibly and effectively. Limited to 8 weeks (Feb. 25 – April 15).

Horticultural Therapy
3:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Remote/Virtual)
This group provides nature-based therapeutic activities to encourage physical activity and regular outdoor time. Participants are encouraged to care for plants independently during the week in their own gardens, or potted plants provided by the Farm, and then meet to discuss their plants. Supplies will be provided.

Spring 2021: Volunteer Opportunities in the Garden

We meet as a community to tend the farm. Volunteers assist with planting, watering, weeding, mulching, harvesting, trail maintenance, and special projects.
Every Monday, 3 PM – 5 PM
Every Friday, 10 AM – 12 PM
Third Saturdays (March-November) from 9 AM – 12 PM

Volunteering Guidelines:

  • Please give us 24 hour notice when signing up or canceling. We plan our work around  volunteer availability. If you arrive unexpectedly or don’t show up at all it can have a major impact on our staff.
  • Wear closed-toed shoes, dress for the weather, and bring a reusable drink container, sunscreen, and bug spray.
  • All volunteers must complete a Volunteer Information Form and a Visitor Consent, Release, and Indemnity Agreement.
  • Youth, 17 and younger without a driver’s license, must be under the supervision of a parent or guardian.


More at the Farm

PAWS (Peer Assisted Wellness Support)

UNC PAWS is an innovative community-based recovery and rehabilitation program that uses non- traditional interventions to assist individuals living with psychiatric disabilities, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and post-traumatic stress. Clients from the UNC Center of Excellence in Community Health trained shelter dogs in performing basic obedience skills, with dogs ultimately being placed in forever homes.

Cora Food Pantry (Currently restricted due to COVID)

Approximately 14% of the population in Chatham County live at or below the poverty level ($24,600/year for a family of 4). The CECMH’s Farm at Penny Lane has partnered with CORA (Chatham Outreach Alliance) to help meet food insecurity needs for families making $49,200/year for a family of four. CORA operates under USDA Food and Nutrition Services Eligibility Guidelines.

Every 2nd Tuesday of the Month from 10:00am-12:00pm
Every 4th Tuesday of the Month from 5:30pm – 7:00pm

Tiny House Community

In partnership with the UNC School of Social Work, the Tiny Homes Village is a demonstration project that is aimed at developing a new affordable housing option for people with mental illness and other health conditions living on a fixed income. The village will include 15 tiny homes. Each tiny home will be about 400 square ft and each will be built on a permanent foundation. Veterans with chronic health conditions will be given priority for 5 of the village’s 15 homes. (Construction in progress)