Thava Mahadevan and the Family Farm at Penny Lane

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FPL Kick-off Lasagna Bed Construction-Sally HaskettThe Farm at Penny Lane is a 40-acre therapeutic center near Pittsboro NC for people with mental illness. People can work on recovery here through horticultural therapy and other programs. Founded by Thava Mahadevan in 2012, the Farm at Penny Lane provides space for people to grow crops for the farmers market and for their own use, as well as aquaponic tanks for fish, beehives, and a future greenhouse and a chicken coop.

Because of poor health habits—smoking, malnutrition—persons with mental illness die, on average, 25 years sooner than people without. “If you can’t hold a job, you eat poorly,” Thava explains. “This gets people outdoors and teaches them how to grow food, to eat healthy and earn a small income.” Connecting people to the earth through manual labor can be a powerful therapeutic method.

Mahadevan is the Director of XDS, a non-profit that provides health and wellness services to people with mental illness, and Director of Operations for the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. Through grants XDS bought the land that now provides day programs.

For more information about The Farm at Penny Lane, call 919-537-3818