The Farm at Penny Lane, located on 40 acres in northern Chatham County, uses a holistic and sustainable approach to enhance the quality of life of individuals with severe and persistent mental illness by offering opportunities to become healthier and more

‘Hope grows here’

The place at the end of the bumpy dirt road looks and sounds like many farms in rural Chatham County. Dogs bark and a rooster crows when visitors arrive. Glossy black-feathered chickens peck in the grass around the coop and a collection of outbuildings. A few people in shorts and T-shirts dig up beets and turnips in a half-acre garden plot.

But the writing carved into the wooden sign above the garden gate shows the difference at the Farm at Penny Lane: “Hope Grows Here.”

“We want the farm to be a place where we create initiatives and demonstrate that they are effective and can change people’s lives,” said Thava Mahadevan, director of the Farm at Penny Lane and of operations at the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, part of the School of Medicine.

The center, in partnership with the nonprofit XDS Inc., operates the 40-acre property just six miles south of campus to provide services to approximately 2,000 people in the Triangle area with serious mental health conditions, addictive disorders or intellectual and developmental disabilities. The farm’s innovative programs include harvesting and processing produce, horticultural therapy, a farmer-led gardening group, yoga, cooking classes and a program for training support dogs.

Originally published July 12, 2019.


Accessibility options

Adjust the interface to make it easier to use for different conditions.
This renders the document in high contrast mode.
This renders the document as white on black
This can help those with trouble processing rapid screen movements.
This loads a font easier to read for people with dyslexia.