Among today’s consumers, being green is more of a perk than ever. And companies know it — so there’s plenty of incentive to be somewhat disingenuous about just how green you are.
But when you have more than 500,000 visitors walking through the heart of your business each year, as Terhune Orchards in Lawrenceville does, there’s no hiding anything.
“People come here and they can see it for themselves,” said Pam Mount, co-owner of the farm and winery. “They can ask me questions about it — and find out what’s going on.”
Since buying Terhune Orchards in 1975 with her husband Gary, Mount has built her fruit and vegetable farm from a 55-acre plot to more than 200 acres, with more than 20 different crops.
She has done so while preaching sustainable practices that set Terhune apart from other orchards — it uses dwarf trees that don’t grow large and take minimal resources, but still have high production.
Instead of irrigating everything, the orchard uses a trickle system that reduces runoff. And its pest control system uses other insects instead of chemicals.
While the operation has changed with growth, the core philosophy hasn’t: Be transparent about what it does. Terhune Orchards hosts several farm festivals each year, attracting people from all over the region.
When Mount started out, inviting the public onto a farm was extremely rare. The fact that it was part of what Terhune Orchards did from the outset is part of what Mount said allowed it to flourish in an ultra-competitive environment.
“If you have a farm — or if you have a drug store or an automobile dealership, whatever it may be — there’s things about the story of your business that most people are interested in,” she said. “That story is what’s going to separate you from the many other small businesses in New Jersey.”
Besides consumers rewarding a business for having eco-friendly values, Mount believes employees are similarly interested in rewarding companies of this sort.
“For example, we have a really steady workforce,” she said. “There’s people here who have worked here for 25 years.”