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Rooted in Recovery

Horticulture Therapy is a complementary therapy, which uses plants and gardening to promote health and wellness. This holistic therapy is rooted in the principle that plants and people share the rhythm of life. Both plants and people grow and change and respond to nurture and climate. Participants will find that as they tend their plants and gardens, they will also tend their body, mind and spirit.

A professional horticulture therapist, from the North Carolina Botanical Gardens, plans and conducts activity sessions at the UNC Farm at Penny Lane to help participants achieve the following benefits:

  • Physical health through purposeful exercise (level determined by ability), fresh air, learning about nutrition, practicing healthy eating.
  • Emotional health through stress reduction, connection to nature, creative expression, successful outcomes with plants.
  • Social health through social interaction, cooperative enterprise, community building.
  • Learning new skills in horticulture and related fields to promote vocational and leisure opportunities.

Horticulture Therapy Classes


This group provides weekly plant-based activities in and around the garden to help lower anxiety, boost your mood and encourage physical activity and regular outdoor time. Participants often go home with produce for the week. No green thumb is required!

For details on when the class meets and how to signup, please visit our Current Recovery Programs page.

Farm-to-Home Produce Pack Program

For a nominal fee, seasonal fruits and vegetables grown by the farm’s staff and volunteers are given to eligible patients of the CECMH. The program lowers barriers and provides access to supplemental produce in a participant’s diet. This is a non-medical intervention to address preventable chronic health conditions that people with serious mental illness are disproportionately diagnosed with. On average, the Produce Pack Program serves about 25 individuals regularly during the year, in addition to numerous individuals who can take home produce offered a la carte in the Carr Mill STEP Clinic waiting room.

Certificate in Therapeutic Horticulture

The North Carolina Botanical Garden offers a certificate in Therapeutic Horticulture to professionals and students in allied health, education, and design fields. This program allows participants to incorporate their love of nature into their existing practices.

Professionals who will find the program highly applicable to their work include occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, recreational therapists, art/music/movement therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, nurses, physicians, rehabilitation counselors, vocational rehabilitation counselors, substance use disorder counselors, K-12 educators, college educators, educators of exceptional children, public garden professionals, urban planning designers, and landscape designers/architects.

The program offers a fully online course or a hybrid style course with hands-on skill workshops. To learn more, contact Emilee Weaver.

Support Mental Health Recovery

Your donations support the creative alternative recovery programs. These programs include group therapies such as Horticultural Therapy, Brushes with Life, and Wellness Wednesday. As well as community programs such as the CORA Food Pantry, Wellness on Wheels Mobile Clinic and Tiny Home Village.