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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.

Donate

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


Current Programs

This is a current schedule of weekly group-based activities focused around promoting overall health and well-being for adults living with serious mental health conditions who are served by the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health.

Most of the groups are open and run throughout the year, unless otherwise stated. Please note some of the groups are time-limited to certain dates. In-person groups may be postponed due to COVID surges; please sign up and we will inform you of any changes.

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

 

MONDAYS

Horticultural Therapy (begins September 13)***
10:00am – 12:00pm | Farm at Penny Lane
This group provides nature-based therapeutic activities in the garden as a group to encourage physical activity and regular outdoor time.

Emotional Resiliency Skills (begins September 13)
3:00pm – 4:00pm | Virtual
This group focuses on learning and increasing one’s recovery goals through self-management skills and mindfulness practices for living in the moment.

Community Volunteer Workday (Ongoing)
3:00pm – 5:00pm | Farm at Penny Lane
We meet as a community to tend the farm. Volunteers assist with planting, watering, weeding, mulching, harvesting and special projects. Sign up at http://signup.com/go/LoRwSa.

TUESDAYS

Brushes with Life (begins September 7)
10:30am – 12:00pm | Carr Mill STEP & Virtual
This group provides visual arts activities where 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.

Garden Crew (begins September 7)***
3:00pm – 4:30pm | Farm at Penny Lane
This group focuses on learning seasonal gardening skills for personal and vocational goals and practicing them in a supportive environment.

WEDNESDAYS

Yoga & Breathing (September 8 – November 10)***
11:00am – 12:00pm | Farm at Penny Lane
This group focuses on using yoga to promote wellness and connect the mind and body. Sessions may include gentle stretching and twisting, breathing techniques and guided imagery. The instructor emphasizes listening to your body and feeling empowered.

Cooking & Lunch (September 8 – November 10)
12:00pm – 2:00pm | Farm at Penny Lane
This group focuses on healthy and delicious cooking instruction on a limited budget and to work on increasing greater appreciation for food. We cook along with and socialize with each other. All skill levels are encouraged.

Music over Mind (September 8 – November 10)
2:00pm – 3:00pm | Farm at Penny Lane
This group provides participants the creative space to play an instrument, sing, and read poetry or prose with each other.

Building Social Skills – CBT for Psychosis (September 1 – Oct. 20)
4:00pm – 5:00pm | Carr Mill STEP
This group focuses on learning and practicing social skills together using strategies from cognitive behavioral therapy for motivated individuals with a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder. Please consult with your clinician to submit a referral for this group.

FRIDAYS

Community Volunteer Workday (Ongoing)***
10:00am – 12:00pm | Farm at Penny Lane
We meet as a community to tend the farm. Volunteers assist with planting, watering, weeding, mulching, harvesting and special projects. Sign up at http://signup.com/go/LoRwSa.

 

Locations

Groups are currently located either at the UNC Farm at Penny Lane, the UNC STEP Clinic at Carr Mill, or as a virtual option when available.

UNC Farm at Penny Lane |  263 Penny Lane, Pittsboro, NC 27312
UNC STEP Clinic at Carr Mill | 200 N. Greensboro St., Suite C-6, Carrboro, NC 27510

Transportation

Transportation is available from the CVS parking lot/pavilion at Carr Mill Mall and back for groups at the UNC Farm at Penny Lane (marked with ***). The shuttle departs 30 minutes before the group starts and returns within 30 minutes after the group ends. When registering for those groups, please note if you will need the shuttle. (For Wednesdays groups at the Farm, transportation is only available for a round-trip to depart at 10:30am and return by 3:30pm since the groups are back-to-back. Participants will need to find other transportation if they choose to arrive or leave at different times.)

COVID-19 Safety Precautions

Groups located indoors at the UNC STEP Clinic at Carr Mill will follow all required UNC School of Medicine protocols. Groups located at the UNC Farm at Penny Lane will be held outdoors. Groups that don’t meet in the garden will meet outdoors under the shade of the new Outdoor Pavilion. Brief symptom screenings and masks will be required for shuttle transportation.


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.

VOLUNTEERS SIGN UP


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.

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

Tiny Homes VIllage

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)