Pam Mount Has a History of Community Service Working for Sustainability and Environmental Protection
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: “Being part of the community will always be the driving force of what we do at Terhune’s, welcoming people to the farm and being engaged with them and the community.” Pam Mount, owner with her husband Gary, of Terhune Orchards, has always been active in the community, serving on Lawrence Township Council and as Mayor, and she continues to be engaged in the important issues of the day. She is shown next to one of her own paintings.
“I have worked at the White House and met leaders around the world, and Pam is the real thing! She is at the top of my list as a genuine world class hero.”
This sentiment, expressed by Princeton resident William Golden, is shared by many others. Executive director of the National Institute on Coastal Infrastructure, and formerly with the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Golden is very aware of the countless ways in which Pam Mount’s ability and contributions have influenced people throughout the Princeton and Lawrenceville communities.
Together with her husband Gary Mount, she has expanded the scope of the original Terhune Orchards and introduced safe and up-to-date farming practices.
Serving on the Lawrence Township Council, Ms. Mount brought the needs for sustainability to the forefront, and formed coalitions with fellow council members and community residents to find ways to preserve open space and protect the environment. Her leadership abilities were a major factor in achieving success in these areas.
As her friend Lawrenceville resident, and former Princeton store owner Teresita Bastides-Heron points out, “Pam’s contributions have to a large extent established what is good about Lawrence Township. During her tenure as councilwoman and mayor, she was very helpful in the creation of the Lawrence Nature Center, and she is one of the founders of Sustainable Lawrence. She is an inspiration to us all.”
Wife, mother of three, grandmother of nine, friend, and volunteer, Pam Mount has made a difference to her family, her friends, and her community.
Born in Northampton, Mass., Pam was the middle child of Herbert and Elizabeth Hasenzahl. She and her two sisters, Barbara and Margo, lived in a large three-story Victorian house, which, as Pam remembers, was an intriguing place to explore. “I have happy memories of that big house. It was fun to investigate all its nooks and crannies.”
Pam and her sisters had a wide circle of friends, and spent a lot of time playing outdoors. “We’d get on our bikes and ride all over town, climb trees, and just have fun being outside. We also took family trips to Cape Cod.”
They lived next door to the Clark School for the Deaf, and one of the students there became Pam’s close friend. “The school was founded by Alexander Graham Bell,” explains Ms. Mount. “He believed in helping deaf people to learn to read lips and talk by means of a special method.
“When I was in the third grade, I met a girl there, Lynn, and we became fast friends. There was a lot of mixing with the deaf and hearing kids. I learned to read lips, and Lynn could too, and she was able to talk fairly well. We went to summer camp together.
“Knowing Lynn has influenced my life. She found ways of coping, and I found ways of coping. For some people, when they come to a stone wall they stop and turn back. Others come to the wall and find a way to get over it. The relationship with Lynn and living in the college town were big influences on me.”
Pam’s friendship with Lynn was important in another respect. Pam was found to have a mild form of dyslexia, and some subjects in school were difficult for her to master. Seeing how Lynn coped with her own difficulty was an inspiration to Pam, and despite any challenges she persevered and enjoyed school.
“Some of the subjects were hard for me, but I loved art and the art classes. I actually loved school. In eighth grade, after we moved to Princeton, I had a wonderful art teacher at Valley Road School, and I did all the pictures for the eighth grade year book.”
The family had moved to Princeton in 1958, and that was a change from life in Northampton, remembers Pam. “Princeton really reminded me of Cape Cod with all the shops and the downtown. It wasn’t like that in Northampton. Also, I loved the grass playing fields at Valley Road for field hockey and other sports. I also met five girls in school who have been my good friends ever since.”
Pam attended Princeton High School, where she was a member of the student council. She enjoyed that early opportunity for leadership, and she recalls that it reminded her of an even earlier attempt for elective office.
“I was asked to run for the student council in the sixth grade, and it seemed to me to be only polite to vote for the boy who was running against me. Well, I lost by one vote, and I learned then to vote for myself next time!”
Pam was a Girl Scout throughout her school years in Princeton. “I became a Mariner Scout, and we’d sail on Lake Carnegie and also canoe from the Delaware Water Gap down to Lambertville. I went to Girl Scout camp in the Berkshires and also to the Girl Scout Round-up in Vermont.”
After school, Pam had baby sitting jobs, and she also worked as a life guard in the summers.
An experience she had as a girl in Princeton has remained with her, and led her to establish an ongoing tradition. As she explains, “My mother took me to see President Eisenhower at the Princeton Chapel, and I remember he said: ‘If you really, truly want peace, you have to be involved in government. Start with your own community government.’
Those words resonated with Pam, and years later, as she says, “I took my granddaughter to meet Bill Clinton when he was visiting Princeton University, and recently, I took her to see Hillary Clinton when she was here. I feel this is carrying on a tradition.”
Through her high school years, Pam had also admired President Kennedy, and his establishment of the Peace Corps was to become a significant part of her life. In addition, a major development during high school was meeting Gary Mount. “We dated in high school and later all through college, when he was at Princeton University.”
After graduating from high school in 1963, Pam entered Lake Erie College near Cleveland, Ohio. It was a small, all girls college, and very progressive, notes Ms. Mount.
“For example, freshman year, the first book we read in the general studies course was The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. The second year emphasized community and how things worked. We had field trips to prisons and to local officials and government offices to learn how communities work, both from the governmental and social aspects.
“I was interested in focusing on art, and I did major in it, but my dad wanted me to get a teacher’s certificate so I could support myself.
Junior Year Abroad was available to the entire class, and Pam spent three months with a family in Germany and visited Berlin. “It was divided then, and I was able to see East Berlin,”
Returning to the campus for senior year, Pam continued to take art and education courses, as well as paint, which she had always enjoyed. She also taught art in internships, and worked as a student aide and assistant to the art department. In addition, she was involved in the student government, and served as a dorm rep, helping to create policy.
Seniors were required to write a comprehensive independent paper, she explains, adding, “I wanted to go into the Peace Corps then, but I was also deciding whether to get married. So, I did my research on decision-making, and wrote the paper on that. The title was ‘If I Didn’t Need You, I’d Be Okay’. It was focused on how to determine what to do with my life.”
As it turned out, both the Peace Corps and marriage carried the day. “Gary and I were married three days after I graduated, and then we went to Micronesia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to a little island, Satawal,” says Pam. “It was one mile long and one and a half miles wide, with 400 people living there.
“It was very isolated, and they needed a teacher (me) and an agricultural worker (Gary). I was the first American woman ever to be there. All we had to eat was fish, coconuts, breadfruit, and taro (a kind of potato). The men had a tradition of sailing for hundreds of miles in the open ocean, navigating by the stars, to get to other islands. It was really like living in the middle of a National Geographic article.
“The people lived in thatched houses, and the families of the women stayed together. If they were married, the husband moved into the wife’s house. The women owned the land, and the men sailed. They had an incredibly rich and interesting culture, and it was a remarkable experience for us.”
After three years, their service ended, and Pam was eager to journey even farther afield. “We were already half-way around the world, and we decided to go west — to the Philippines, Borneo, through the jungles, to Indonesia and Bali, back to Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, India, Nepal (where we climbed the Himalayas), Afghanistan, Greece, and then several countries in Europe.”
Now, however, it was time to come home and what to do?
“Gary took a job working in real estate with his brother in Doylestown,” says Pam, “and I worked at the Gourmet Shop in Princeton. Our daughter Reuwai (named for a respected friend in Micronesia) had been born, and we were trying to decide what we wanted to do.
Then, Gary’s cousin came to visit, and mentioned that a small farm was for sale by the owner. It was Terhune’s on Cold Soil Road, and they had apples, peaches, pears, and cider, which they sold out of a little shop there.”
Pam had always enjoyed gardening, but she had no experience with farming. Gary’s father had owned an apple farm, specializing in a wholesale operation, but it had now been sold.
“Terhune’s was not in good shape,” recalls Ms. Mount, “but we decided to buy it anyway. We borrowed money, and in 1975, we built a shack to live there because the owners hadn’t left the house yet. Reuwai was then three, and I was expecting Tannwen, our second child.
A Lot of Apples
“I remember one of my uncles came to visit, and he said, ‘Pammie, this place will take a hell of a lot of apples to pay it off!’ It was now May, and in June, we had to start pruning the apple trees.”
Although this was a brand new experience, the Mounts were not daunted. “With my creative bent and Gary’s background in science, we had the ability to get things done. We didn’t see too many problems. We were young, and figured it out. One thing led to another, and we began to modernize and learn about growing methods, integrated pest management, etc. We also went from big trees to dwarf trees, which have a bigger yield. We were now the only apple farm in Mercer County.”
They also took advantage of readily available information from universities and professional apple organizations. As Ms. Mount explains, “Farming in the U.S. is so organized, with information coming directly from research at the universities to the farmers. We got all the latest information. We were in touch with many apple associations and organizations, and people were very open and sharing.”
The Mounts expanded the orchard from 55 acres to the current 200 (all permanently preserved), added new fruits and vegetables (now more than 40 different crops, many organic), flower gardens, also baked goods, and most recently a winery. In addition, a variety of events are held throughout the different seasons, including educational programs for children. The children — and the adults — enjoy visiting the farm animals, including sheep, goats, chickens, geese, ducks, a horse, and the most recent addition, Lucky, the gorgeous peacock!
“As Terhune’s evolved, we realized we were the neighborhood farm,” says Ms. Mount. “The story I like to tell is about a Princeton woman who came in every Tuesday with her granddaughter. She said, ‘I can take my granddaughter anywhere — to New York, to museums, theater, etc. But, Pam, this is the only place we come to that is real. Things are grown here.’
“So, we decided that we’d stick with what’s real.”
With Terhune’s an unqualified success, as a result of the Mounts innovative farming techniques, careful stewardship of the land, and Ms. Mount’s marketing skills, and creative designs, including the development of eye-catching flower gardens, Pam decided to try something new in the late 1990s. While remaining a strongly committed hands-on co-owner of Terhune’s, she accepted the offer to run for the Lawrence Township Council.
“People had been suggesting that I run for the Council, and I’d been doing volunteer work for years, including at the Y. I was president of the board of the YW, and I was on the board of the New Jersey Agricultural Society and Farmers Against Hunger. The kids were away at college, and Gary and I were working together every day. It was good to challenge myself with something else, meet new people, and expand my horizons.
“You paid $5 to join the Democratic Club of Lawrence, and so I got involved. I went and knocked on doors, said hello, and met people. I worked at it. To be successful, you have to be willing to take a risk, do your homework, and go for it.”
Her campaign was indeed successful, and she served on the Council for 12 years, including three terms as mayor.
“You get involved in everything,” she explains. “The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, mosques, churches, organizations, and groups. I formed committees, and I wanted to get things done. I’d go with my list of questions to meetings.”
Sustainability and the preservation of open space were two very important areas Ms. Mount wanted to target, and she has been very engaged in pursuing this agenda. “We preserved a lot of open land,” she reports. “25 to 27 percent of Lawrence land is now preserved.
“The most important accomplishment was the formation of Sustainable Lawrence,” continues Ms. Mount. “We had a meeting regarding Sustainable Communities. This involves communities working together to preserve resources so we don’t overuse them today, to be sure the resources will still be available to people in the future.
“We founded non-profit Sustainable Lawrence to get people engaged, to encourage them to buy local, reduce the carbon footprint by not driving too far, and we wrote articles to encourage interest.”
Along with other mayors, Ms. Mount attended a conference in Colorado about sustainable communities. “We got excited about what was going on in the big communities in Seattle, Los Angeles, etc. We also went to the New Jersey League of Municipalities to ask them to support the mayoral group’s hope for a green future. Then, all the New Jersey mayors started meeting at Rutgers. Questions that came up were how to conserve energy, appropriate land use, recycling, what can the towns do.
“You need to have innovation. We set up a certification program, and towns could register to be part of a new program, Sustainable Jersey. The towns would receive recognition if they included recycling, reduced the use of plastic bags, etc. We had lectures at the library to spread the word. Towns formed “Green Teams”, a committee of town residents to work with elected officials. Nearly every town in New Jersey has signed up, and $2 to 3 million have been given in various grants to towns over five years.
“This has been enormously satisfying. I was chair of Sustainable Jersey for three years and am still on the board.”
Under the auspices of Sustainable Jersey, a new program was set up for schools last year. “If the school is interested in sustainability,” explains Ms. Mount, “it can introduce school gardens, solar panels on the roof, and offer educational programs in sustainability for the kids. Then, they can be certified.”
You know the saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy woman.” In the case of Pam Mount, it could not be more apt. In addition to her responsibilities on the boards of numerous organizations, she continues as chair of Sustainable Lawrence. She is also currently chair of the Lawrence Nature Center, and reports that “We have preserved 35 acres of meadows, woods, and habitat for animals and birds.”
The next step forward in Ms. Mount’s recognition of the need for environmental protection is addressing climate change. Her friend, Princeton resident Kathleen Biggins notes, “Pam and I were both involved in The Garden Club of Princeton, and I really got to know her when I asked her to help start a volunteer group dedicated to reaching out to a broader non-environmentally focused community and fostering dialogue and understanding about the consequences of climate change. Pam has been an invaluable contributor to our endeavor, which is called C-Change Conversations.
“She is one of those unique people who can see the big picture and is extremely insightful at the strategic level, yet is also happy to roll up her sleeves to do the hard work of implementing an event or program. She’s always upbeat, fun to work with, and fully engaged. Her energy level amazes me. Pam is a wonderful asset to New Jersey. She has a vast network of friends and colleagues throughout the community, which enables her to engage a larger audience on sustainability issues.”
In addition to her work in preserving open space and protecting the environment, Ms. Mount serves on the board of Princeton’s Lewis School. On the occasion of the school’s “Big Event” in September, 2015, the school honored Pam and Gary Mount with the first annual “Marsha Gaynor Lewis Citizenship Award for Outstanding Public Service” in recognition of the Mounts’ life-long commitment to community, local farming, the environment, and education.
Ms. Mount has indeed been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including another very important commendation, when she was named by the New Jersey League of Municipalities as “Citizen of the Year” for her work in Sustainable Jersey.
In another area, one especially close to her heart, Ms. Mount serves on the board of the National Guard Family Readiness Council, which raises money for National Guard families in crisis. “As mayor,” she explains, “I went to many events to say good-bye to National Guard soldiers who were leaving and also to welcome other contingents coming home. I felt the township should be aware of the families who were struggling when their main wage earner was called into service. We have been able to raise millions of dollars for this cause.”
Her interest in this was reinforced by the fact that the Mounts’ son Mark is a U.S. Army sergeant, now stationed in Louisiana, after having served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. Willingness to serve is paramount in the Mount family.
Certainly, awareness of the needs of others is a priority for Ms. Mount, and she has been successful in engaging others to help. A frequent volunteer herself, she is grateful for the efforts so many others put in every day.
“It is absolutely important to support volunteers, coaches, those who help the elderly, the poor, and all those who are doing so much. This includes many young women who are so active today.”
A long-time admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt, Ms. Mount believes many could benefit from that former First Lady’s example.
“She was so willing to see the needs and issues of everyday people, not just those in her own social status. Whether it was difficult or not, Eleanor Roosevelt went forward, even when people made fun of the way she talked or the way she looked. She did not set out to do this, and I think she made an enormous difference.
“When I went into the Peace Corps, I saw that if you could learn about the needs of different people, you can make a difference and really be able to accomplish something important.”
Now, Pam looks forward to accomplishing still more, continuing to volunteer her time with many organizations and of course, focusing on Terhune’s future, ensuring that it becomes even more of the community treasure it already is.
She is delighted that her daughters Reuwai and Tannwen are now partners in Terhune’s operation. “It is wonderful having them involved. They bring new energy and ideas daily to the work here. Their husbands and children are the present and the future. I am so grateful.”
And the community and all those she has served are grateful to Pam. Her friend of long-standing, Princeton resident Georgine Hall Stauffer, actress and teacher, expresses what many others would like to say.
“Pam has made many wonderful contributions to the community, but it is her friendship that means so much. We laugh together, have fun together. She is a dear friend, loyal and thoughtful, and I know I can count on her.”