Our initiatives

Learn about the services and programs we offer

The Farm at Penny Lane

Food as Medicine, Farming as Therapy

Tomatoes on the vine at the Farm
Tomatoes on the vine at the Farm

The Farm at Penny Lane partners with individuals with mental illness to grow nutritious food for themselves and others and offers integrated, community-based, therapeutic programs in an inclusive farm setting.

Our major goals:

  • Maximize social, cognitive, physical, and psychological functioning of participants
  • Enhance the general health and wellness of individuals
  • Facilitate entrepreneurship for program participants
  • Break down barriers in the community and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness

The farm is in development and currently includes a community garden, a greenhouse, an apiary with ten beehives, a flock of heritage-breed chickens, and a walking trail.

Tours of the Farm

We set aside Thursday afternoons for farm tours. Please contact the Farm Program Manager to schedule a visit.


The farm offers a variety of activities including Horticultural Therapy, a farmer-led gardening group, and weekly farm work days.

More About the Farm


Michelle Morehouse, Program Manager



Tiny Homes and Housing

Housing as Healthcare

Tiny homes as a solution to housing and health instability
Tiny homes as a solution to housing and health instability

Homelessness exacerbates illness, and creates a psychological environment in which recovery, in any form, is next to impossible.

Which is why, at Penny Lane, we view housing as healthcare.

Our vision at the Farm is to assist individuals living with mental health challenges to find a way to become self-sufficient and have an improved quality of life. One of the ways we can do that is to offer a housing solution that is affordable, energy efficient, and located in a supportive community environment. A tiny home community on the Penny Lane campus offers a practical solution to the life of chronic homelessness and isolation experienced by many individuals with mental illness.

What is a tiny home?

Tiny homes do not exceed 500 square feet. They are far less expensive than traditional homes in terms of taxes, building, heating, maintenance, and repair costs. Living in a tiny home also encourages a less cluttered and simpler lifestyle and minimizes ecological impacts.

Tiny Home Community Collaborative


The power of Man’s Best Friend

A photo of a PAWS puppy in training
A PAWS puppy in training

Shelter to Pet Program

A collaboration between UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health and paws4people foundation, the Shelter to Pet program trains individuals with mental illness to teach rescued dogs obedience command so that forever homes in the community may be found.

Personal support dogs at Penny lane

A personal support dog (also known as an emotional support animal) provides therapeutic support to clients through companionship, affection, and promoting positive self-regard. PSD’S do not have public access, require yearly certification or perform specific tasks (typically, although some may be able to) as assistance dogs do. However, personal support dogs are permitted in housing that otherwise does not allow dogs through the Fair Housing Act and on airlines in compliance with the Airline Carrier Access guidelines with proper documentation provided by licensed mental health professionals.

For more information on our personal support dog program, please contact Sunny Westerman at sunny_westerman@med.unc.edu.

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Wellness Programs

Holistic Wellness and Wellbeing

Yoga and other wellness activities are important for overall wellbeing
Yoga and other wellness activities are important for overall wellbeing

The Wellness Center at Penny Lane is being developed to provide complementary therapy to clients with chronic mental illness in a non-clinical environment.

There is much research that the therapies we refer to as "Wellness" enhance the benefits of traditional medical therapy. Our vision of providing the best care is one that extends beyond traditional therapy to self-care and spiritual healing to enhance quality of life.

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