Editor’s Note

Princeton Perspectives is celebrating our 3rd birthday with this issue! From our first issue during COVID isolation in March 2020 until now, we have been growing and changing with our community. Your readership is what keeps up going, and we are so grateful.

As I watched the artist paint a new mural on Spring Street, I could see this project changing with each stroke of the paintbrush. Change can be beautiful. It can also take a lot of time, discomfort and adjustment. As Princeton grows and tries to meet the needs of all of its residents and visitors, there is bound to be change. Old streets are redone to make for better usage, old buildings are torn down to make way for hotels and new homes. Procedures change, either by necessity of cost or by desire. Sometimes people take to the changes quickly, and sometimes people make a lot of noise.

In the March issue of Princeton Perspectives, Change Can Be Hard. How Do We Know If It’s The Right Choice? we take a look at some of the various changes happening in our area, and offer facts, perspectives and background to help you better understand them so that you can decide what you feel is right.

What are your thoughts on recent local changes? That is what we asked locals for this month’s Pulse of Princeton. There is optimism abound and it is interesting to hear the varying changes on people’s minds.

Some Residents Want to Throw Away Princeton’s New Trash System, as you’ve likely heard. Perhaps it’s not all bad! Questions, confusion and frustration have caused many residents to call and complain or post comments on neighborhood chats. Princeton Perspectives has also heard from you. So, we’ve posed concerns to Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, and laid it all out there.

Another change that has many residents speaking out is the way Princeton is approaching affordable housing. How Affordable Housing Gets Added into Town is a Complex Decision, so this article offers two perspectives: one explaining what brought Princeton to where things are today and another offering additional things to consider.

Today is also the time to look towards tomorrow when it comes to the climate. Governor Murphy just put forth some new goals to save it. The Likelihood Local Residents Can Help NJ Meet New Climate Change Goals takes a look at what they are and offers local expertise and thoughts about how we’ll get there.

In order to be successful in a changing world, people nowadays often learn more than one language. In the Princeton area, there are schools that can educate children in dual language and bilingual programs from an early age. Changing Opportunities Ensure Bilingual Education for More Students shares information about a new program coming this fall.

In this month’s Perspectives Revisited we update you on two stories we’ve recently covered. Teen’s mental health continues to be a growing concern, so read on to learn about the latest news. We’re also taking a look at how the warm winter has affected the region’s maple tapping, adding more information to last month’s article.

As you ponder all of the changes happening around, speak up if you have a concern or objection. Ask questions if you find things aren’t clear. Change can sometimes be a mistake, but it might also be for the better.

Next issue, we will have changed seasons as well. I hope you enjoy the remainder of winter and thank you, as always, for reading. Please do reach out by emailing here if you have any ideas for future stories or comments on what you’ve read.

The Pulse of Princeton: What are your thoughts on recent local changes?

Some Residents Want to Throw Away Princeton’s New Trash System

Garbage is dirty by nature. And Princeton’s recent change to a new trash system is certainly getting grimy, with some residents voicing anger over everything from the single 64-gallon trash cans for all to costs for additional barrels and more. To delve a little deeper, Princeton Perspectives asked Councilmember Eve Niedergang, who is a member of the municipal Infrastructure and Operations Committee, to respond to concerns and thoughts residents have shared with us.

Concern: We’ve heard the rationale – that there are few choices now in trash haulers and the costs have gone up drastically. It’s said the alternative choices for Princeton would’ve cost taxpayers more. But why did we switch to a whole new trash pick-up system? What’s the previous cost versus the new costs with Interstate Waste Services?

Eve’s Response: Interstate Waste Services acquired the company we used to use for trash. We’re required by law to go out and bid and when we did, we only got 1 bid, from them. It’s not 100% clear why we’re only getting one bid. There are definitely some issues of consolidation in the industry and also, they are having trouble finding staff. This system enables one person to do the job with a much lower injury rate than you’d have otherwise. In the normal pre-COVID world, it would be a concern that this eliminates jobs, but this will actually allow these companies to survive. We worked with a waste consultant, Wayne Defeo, one of the premiere people in the state on recycling/waste issues, and he knew the old way we ran trash pickup would be more expensive. So, our bid request was only with the new trucks/bins. We had some ideas based on what other municipalities were seeing with 70-100% increases. This bid came in just about 50% higher than our old contract, even with the things we introduced.

Concern: How about consolidating with neighboring towns to force these haulers to lower prices and make trash removal more affordable for municipalities?

Eve’s Response: No, we didn’t actively consider it. We share a facility in Lawrence where we take our leaves and brush, and it’s really complicated. Plus, their trash contract doesn’t expire until 2024 or 2025, so what are the chances to find a neighboring town whose contract ends at the same time? We signed a several year contract, so it’s going to be a while before we’re looking, but it is something I’d definitely consider exploring with the new county executive, to have multi-town hauling to achieve some better cost control.

Concern: Taxpayers pay for trash removal as part of their municipal taxes and Princeton has the highest taxes around. One resident said this feels like a form of socialism – as everyone has the same size bin, no matter their circumstances. How do you explain that 1–4-unit dwellings or homes with numerous children have the same size container as single person households?

Eve’s Response: Infrastructure and Operations did crunch the numbers and very few households in town generate more than what would fit in a 64-gallon can. There are some, but it’s not a lot. This was another effort again to contain costs. Our waste consultant encouraged this, thinking it provides an incentive for people to think about what they’re buying or getting rid of. We have a financial assistance program for people for whom a 2nd bin would be a hardship. I know things comes wrapped, you can’t always control it, but it’s a cost control measure. Every municipality makes a decision about what it offers to residents and what it doesn’t. Montgomery and Hopewell don’t offer any trash pickup. I understand people being upset, as residents are paying a lot of taxes, but the municipality could’ve decided to not have trash service at all. We have to be guardians for all people.

Concern: Lawrence has 95-gallon carts, and each additional is a 1-time lease of $45 or $55. That, compared to Princeton’s 64-gallon bins and charging up to $300/year for a 2nd can, if needed? Can the town work with the can supplier or order in bulk to lower that price?

Eve’s Response: Lawrence will be renegotiating their contract soon and let’s stay tuned, they’re going to have to make some of the same choices. We thought about a 95-gallon cart, but some seniors are complaining the 64 is too hard to maneuver. 95 seemed unnecessary for the vast majority of households. If you are using a 2nd can, those are costs the municipality has to bear. A full 2nd can would cost us about $600/yr. So, we halved that amount and we have to pass that on. Ordering in bulk wouldn’t offset the costs, because it’s not the can, it’s the weight of the garbage.

Concern: What if a resident has several additional bags of trash from hosting a party? Cleaning out the basement? Wrappings from new purchases? How are they supposed to get rid of them? People are talking about putting trash in other places. Are they going to use dumpsters at large complexes? Top off a neighbor’s emptier bin? What’s the alternative?

Eve’s Response: We have no official policy for an alternative. If there’s no food in them, perhaps you can store them for a week. I’d ask some neighbors if they had room. I’d be willing to let my neighbors put their trash in my bin. I think most people would be willing to help a neighbor out on occasion. If you’re truly generating more trash than 2 64-gallon containers all the time, you’ll have to find a dump willing to accept that. That’s not something we’ve looked into. If it turns out a lot of people have that problem, we’ll have to look at it.

Concern: RFID tags are tracking devices on each cart? It makes sense so they don’t get lost, but how do you explain that to residents that feel government is watching?

Eve’s Response: It’s not to track people, it’s not a GPS, it’s a radio frequency identification tag with a narrow range of a few hundred feet. The tag is really so that if somebody takes your cart and it’s not at your house, we know that and can provide a replacement. Since we’re charging for extra carts, it creates incentive to take one from someone else, so it enables us to track that the carts are at the right house. It’s a very limited system which is pretty standard in these types of carts.

Concern: With the addition of the new, town-required cans, people are throwing away their old large plastic trash cans. It is so wasteful both financially (as people bought them) and environmentally. How does an environmentally and cost-conscious town like Princeton allow for this?

Eve’s Response: That was definitely a concern. We are hoping people participate in some of the things we’ve outlined, and Sustainable Princeton has come up with uses for existing trash cans such as collecting yard waste, composting, using them as rain barrels. Once they get picked up from peoples’ houses, we’ve had landscapers express an interest in having some of them. People have also put out notices on social media such as Freecycle and Buy Nothing where people can pass them along to someone in a neighboring town to continue using them. We’re not happy about the environmental burden but there was no other way to move forward with these initiatives other than replacing the cans. We hope people that are willing to put in a little time or effort to reuse or pass along their old cans.

Concern: What’s the right way to place your can?

Eve’s Response: Ideally, if you’re on a street wide enough to not cause traffic issues, you should place it with the wheels against the curb with the metal bar facing out. If it’s going to cause problems with others drivers or parking, place the bin where you normally would, with the wheels towards house, and the metal bar facing out. Right now, workers are manually picking up all cans because the new trucks aren’t ready. But soon we will need the cans facing the right way for the tipper arm. If, however, you live on a narrow street like Bank Street, we’ll just continue to use regular crews on those streets.

Concern: You’ve mentioned this new system creates incentives for residents to reduce the amount of trash they generate by reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting. Mercer County only accepts #1 and #2 for recycling, so the rest is trash. Composting is not an option for most homeowners. What is Princeton doing to better allows for these options and educate locals?

Eve’s Response: We and Sustainable Princeton have been doing some educational outreach. It is really hard to get people’s attention. We reached out to local newspaper and, everybody got a flyer with the new trash information which suggested ways to reuse old trash cans, and there’s stuff on our website. We can always do better and we’re learning every day, but this is a new reality. There’s no more place to send stuff, we used to send stuff to China and that stopped. As a society we need to change and as a government we need to use our tax dollars wisely. So, it’s going to be a learning curve for everyone to figure out. Long term, I’d like Mercer County to start taking #5 recyclables as well. I’d like to see industries responsible for the amount of packaging they generate. We are asked to fix the problems that occur much further upstream from us. And residents bear the burden. I’m not saying these solutions are perfect, but we couldn’t go forward with a doubling of our hauling costs. We’ll continue to hear and listen if there are things we can do to address needs and concerns people have raised.

If you have a policy concern, you can reach out directly to Eve by emailing her at eniedergang@princetonnj.gov. If you have a logistical concern about your trash can or pick-up, you can email the waste team directly at wasteinfo@princetonnj.gov.

The Likelihood Local Residents Can Help NJ Meet New Climate Change Goals

March 7th was the first day of 2023 that residents woke up to snow-covered trees and grass all season. There was frequent 50° weather throughout February. A tornado touched down in Lawrence. Flooding of the Stony Brook, Delaware River and other local waterways has become normal. These are signs, many say, of climate change.


In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has laid out plans to counter climate change since he came into office. A 2019 Energy Master Plan set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. Numerous Executive Orders have been signed since, setting other regulation changes. Now, there is an updated plan, put forth by the governor in February, which expedites the large-scale goals. It aims to have New Jersey using 100% clean energy by 2035 instead of 2050 and calls for all cars and light trucks sold in the state to be electric by 2035 as well. How necessary are these changes? Are they realistic? How can local residents move towards them?

“I think the goals announced by Governor Murphy are a combination of realistic and aspirational, as all goals should be,” says Christine Symington, Executive Director of Sustainable Princeton. “The proceeds from RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), federal incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the CHIPS and Science Act provide the funds and market signals, and the climate-conscious generation entering the workforce provides the momentum to achieve the goals.”

With those financial incentives in place, is Mercer County prepared to achieve them? Experts says much of it depends on how the infrastructure is changed to enable it. That means reducing dependency on cars for transportation (by encouraging walking, biking, carpooling and public transportation use), residents making use of the available grants to upgrade or change the power supply to their homes or businesses (to solar rather than gas, for example), developing and utilizing more alternate energy sources (nuclear reactors, hydrogen hubs, increased wind and solar opportunities) and working with utility companies to ensure their grids and lines can handle this energy.


A recent Princeton Perspectives survey of 50 local residents shows that 60% of them believe it is feasible for 100% of the electricity sold in NJ to come from clean sources by January 2035. They state that a change in use, taking advantage of the right opportunities and utilizing the right incentives can make it possible.

“The path to 100% clean energy is difficult, but one that is born out of necessity, and not out of choice. In order to secure the future for generations to come, we must all come together to make this a reality,” shares Venkat Yaddanapudi. Respondent Abigail Rose adds, “Crucial goal. Our planet and all humankind are at stake.”

The 40% that do not believe it is realistic to meet this goal think 12 years simply isn’t enough time for such change, citing the infrastructure won’t be ready by then, the cost is too high with still not enough money for these investments, and citing concern such changes will lead New Jersey to become reliant on sources out of state and even the country instead.

“The law caps nuclear at 40%, meaning 60% would have to come from sources like wind and solar that are not cost-effective and depend on the weather. Eliminating natural gas, which currently supplies most of NJ’s electricity, would lead to skyrocketing costs and an unreliable grid,” one local wrote on the survey. Another added though they think it’s possible, “there are three big obstacles: 1) the aging, complex grid, 2) sufficient battery storage and 3) permitting obstacles for new, renewable projects.”


Erick Ford, President of New Jersey Energy Coalition, admits that 2035 is soon, and agrees with the previously stated obstacles, but feels with the right planning, such as upgrading high voltage lines to increase power capabilities, we can get there.

“The technological advances we’ve seen over the last 10 years is amazing. Fuel cells are going to be a key piece of it, they have zero emissions, can produce electricity on demand, produce hydrogen and capture CO2 as well. This is an energy resource that can be placed anywhere within the distribution grid and help cars charge, etc.,” Ford explains. “Hydrogen is going to be a bigger piece of the energy sector. Hydrogen hubs are being developed. We have nuclear power. Solar and wind are also opportunities. “

Gov. Murphy has a goal to create 11,000 megawatts of power (enough to power approximately 3 million homes) from wind turbines by 2040. There is currently just one wind farm off Atlantic County, but more are being planned and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities just announced it is accepting more applications. Each turbine is said to provide enough energy to power 2,500 homes. But they have also been a cause for concern. So far in 2023, nine whales have turned up dead along the coast, and many are blaming the turbines for their deaths. A necropsy on the most recent whale indicated trauma consistent with propeller wounds. So, can this be the infrastructure of the future?

Once NJ figures out the best infrastructures, even with proper incentives it will take a lot of will to move towards clean energy. With 169,304 solar installations so far across New Jersey, as of March 2023, nearly 46% of our local survey respondents stated they do not use any forms of clean energy in their homes today. Only 10% currently use solar energy at their homes with another 18% hoping to use it soon. In 2021, Princeton Day School became the first school in Princeton to utilize solar energy.


One step that feels more feasible for locals is the change to an electric vehicle (EV). 52% of those that took the survey already have or are planning to purchase a partially or all electric car.

“There are incentives available right now through PSE&G for energy efficiency upgrades and EV charging infrastructure to residents, multifamily, and commercial property owners. The State of New Jersey has rebates for electric vehicles,” Symington adds.

In addition to those in private homes, New Jersey currently has 868 public charging stations statewide. Mercer County and municipalities like Princeton are also working to provide local charging stations, making it easier to own such vehicles and helping to make to make it possible to reach Murphy’s goal of selling only electric cars and light trucks in NJ by 2035. Level 2 Chargers are installed at 11 sites throughout Mercer County with Direct Current Fast Chargers planned for 2 more locations. Specifically in Princeton, there are currently six public EV charging stations around town. Eight new EV charging stations are also now located in the municipal building parking lot. Three Level 2 Charging stations can be found on the Princeton University campus business, like The Peacock Inn, also offer charging. PlugShare, Open Charge Map, and ChargeHub are websites/apps that show you where a charging station can be found.

Nearly 46% of those that took our survey believe that if all new cars sold are electric, New Jersey will be able to meet an expanded need for charging stations, as many people will likely charge in their homes. 10% think NJ will never be all electric, so it doesn’t matter. And, going electric also raises others concerns; can everyone afford an electric vehicle and are lithium batteries the answer?

“Right now, there is no way to recycle the lithium batteries which is an environmental nightmare. Child labor is being used to mine the rare earth metals required to make these batteries and what little water resources exist are being drained to get these metals, leaving peoples that could never afford to own an electric car without the means to grow crops and raise livestock, which will result in widespread famine in a number of 3rd world nations,” one respondent put forth.


To move the needle forward, many shared with Princeton Perspectives that even more significant tax subsidies are needed to make electric vehicles more affordable. Beyond transportation and solar power, locals also shared they are planting a garden, changing to LED lighting, and switching to more “energy star” appliances. But residents are still beholden to the infrastructure around them.

“This really comes from energy companies transitioning to clean energy. My current apartment uses a gas stove and is in an old building. I don’t foresee my landlord spending money to increase the electrical panel to allow for more capacity anytime soon,” Princeton resident Nick DiDomizio explained on our survey.

Government mandates on industry could help us get there. If the funding is there, and if everyone works towards this common goal, Ford says cleaner forms of energy can be gathered then stored. He thinks companies are working towards this, to help make it a reality for New Jersey.

BP is putting out a storage component. Once we have incentives for energy storage, you’ll have a known opportunity there. Wind turbines produce a certain amount of electricity. You don’t need it all at once, but if you have storage and then can push it onto the grid, when necessary,” Ford details. “You can have a battery bank connected to a grid that can store electricity of school buses during the summer when they’re used less. If done right, you can get there. It’s not easy.”

Nothing ever is. The clock is now ticking, 12 years and counting. In short time it will be evident if companies, the state and the residents have the will and opportunities to go clean.

Editor’s Note

It’s hard to live in the Princeton area and not be aware there is a lot of history around, but have your ever realized to what extent it influenced the things we have today? Similarly, we all know of New Jersey as the Garden State, but were you aware that there is so much that we can gleam naturally from the land around us?

In this February issue of Princeton Perspectives, Nature and Nurture: Princeton’s Resources and Historical Opportunities we share stories and information to help you fully appreciate what is available all around.

What is your favorite local natural or historical feature? That is what we asked locals this month in our Pulse of Princeton. Many have a favorite or two and perhaps their responses will inspire you. Watch the video below for more.

Something else that might inspire you is a former resident’s look at his childhood in Princeton. As young children and teens, many do not appreciate their surroundings and the people helping to bring them up. It can be fascinating to learn how much it can truly hold a place in one’s heart. Read about the impact a Princeton childhood had in this personal reflection 1960s Princeton Provided a Lifetime of Memories and a Path to Opportunities.

What else is here that you might not be fully appreciating? The land and what you can get from it. Naturally Maple Syrup: Sweetness That Can Be Found in Your Own Backyard details not only the awareness that something so delectable could be sitting outside your back door, but how you can take full advantage of it.

Living off the Land: The Many Healthy Natural Resources Available to You highlights some things beyond syrup that you can enjoy locally fresh. And, beyond eating them, there are uses for natures crops and elements that can be truly beneficial to your health.

That includes getting outdoors, breathing in the fresh air and utilizing the resources the area offers. Historical Industries Laid the Groundwork for Today’s Recreational Enjoyment details three places that you might not have been able to explore today, had it not been for how the areas were utilized centuries ago.

History is so much a part of who we are today, that Princeton is taking huge efforts to maintain it. In this month’s Perspectives Revisited you can read an update on the story we shared about 91 Prospect and a fight underway to keep a local municipality from transforming a land area into something many do not want.

Take advantage of this winter’s unseasonably warm temperatures to get outside, start your spring gardens, go for a walk and simply benefit from what the greater Princeton area offers. We hope this issue inspires you to do so.

The Pulse of Princeton: What is your favorite local natural or historical feature?

Naturally Maple Syrup: Sweetness That Can Be Found in Your Own Backyard

When one thinks of natural maple syrup, Vermont is likely the first place that comes to mind. The state did produce 2.5 million gallons of it last year, half of the overall production in the United States. And, while NJ doesn’t contribute largely to that maple syrup industry, you might be surprised to learn it is home to many varieties of maple trees including the Sugar Maple – the best source for sap that turns into delicious maple syrup. You might even be more shocked to realize this resource could be sitting right in your backyard.

“We’re lucky we’re in an area in the right climate, and with a high enough density of maple trees, it’s possible for us to make maple syrup,” explains Kevin Watson, Assistant Director of Howell Living History Farm, a facility of the Mercer County Park Commission. “The ingredients you need climate-wise to make for good maple sugaring are freezing temperatures at night and thawing temperatures during day. In non-maple trees, inside the xylem of the tree is just water. In maple trees it’s a gas, so the temperature fluctuations result in cold temperatures creating a frost on the inside of the cells and the evaporation of the liquid resulting in movement of the sap through the tree up and down.”


With these requirements, February is the perfect time to try and drain the sap from your trees and turn it into a sweet treat. To determine if you’re living amongst the right species of trees, you first must do a little detective work. The bark, branches and buds will tell you right away if a Sugar Maple is in your yard.

The bark should be a medium to dark grey color, the branches will have opposite positioning as opposed to alternate and the buds tend to be black with a red hue. In addition, its leaves (if they’re still around) usually have five lobes and will resemble the shape of what you find on the Canadian flag. With the highest concentration of sugar of all maples, the Sugar Maples has about 6% sugar content in its sap.

“There are 13 North American maple species that can be tapped for syrup. Ideally Sugar Maples and Black Maples have highest the concentration, but you can tap Red, Silver, Swamp and Norway Maples as well. For a Norway Maple, you need 90 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup,” Watson shares.

Yet it takes just 40 gallons of sap from the Sugar Maple to create one gallon of syrup. A solid Sugar Maple is going to produce approximately one gallon of sap every 24 hours. That one gallon will then yield approximately 3-4 ounces of syrup. So, it is a lot of work to create a little sweetness, but many think it’s worth it!


Howell Living History Farm aims to demonstrate life on the farm in the early 1900s, at a time when things were done manually using the natural resources around. For the past 30 years they have been tapping their Sugar Maples to demonstrate the process to locals (and ultimately bottling up the natural maple syrup.) So far this year their 800 gallons of sap have created 20 gallons of syrup which has been separated into 320 8-ounce bottles.

There are three ways to collect sap from a tree, two of which are demonstrated at Howell Living History Farm: manual bucket collection and gravity feed method with a pipeline system. As you see in this photo, a section on Baldpate Mountain, adjacent to the historic farm, has been set up with blue pipe tubing, using the gravity down the mountain to pull the sap from the tap into a storage container that is collected daily. More commercial ventures today often use vacuum feed, which pulls that sap through the tubing even faster.

It is believed the first tree taps were created by the Native Americans, using hollowed out Elderberry, Cedar or Staghorn Sumac segments and scraping out the inner core. They then used hot rocks to heat up the collected sap inside their birch bark bowls to create what likely became maple sugar. Nowadays, metal taps, steel pots and other more commercial products are available.

“When you’re tapping a tree, you check to make sure it doesn’t already have any damage, maybe a branch had blown off and was leaking sap or a woodpecker made holes,” clarifies Watson. “Examine the tree to make sure it’s healthy. If so, and it’s at least 11-inches in diameter, you can put one tap in. If it’s 18-inches in diameter or more you can put in 2 taps, and 24-inches or over you can tap it 3 times.”

You will drill a hole using a 7/16” drill bit and then insert a metal tap, being careful to space it at least 2 inches from any previous scarring. You can choose to hang a metal bucket below it, like they did in the early 20th century, or you can simply attach a cleansed milk container to trap the sap. You’ll see, it comes out looking mostly like water, because sap is 98% water. It’s when you change its composition that the sugary traits heighten and take form.


Once you’ve collected your sap, it must be boiled to change consistency and sweeten. At Howell Living History Farm, this used to be done manually with a cauldron. The farm has maintained the use of wood-burning energy but has upgraded its process and is now using a 30-gallon commercial evaporator. The goal is to ultimately heat the sap to 7.25° past the boiling point, or to 219.25°. That is when it becomes syrup. Should you choose, you can boil it up to 230° to create maple candy and at 260° maple sugar will form.

“An evaporator is essentially a big boiling kettle. To do it at home you need a big pot, a candy thermometer and plenty of time. Depending how much you’re making, it would take at least 4-6 hours of boiling time,” Watson says. “Once you get to the point that you’re noticing it has the beginnings of a golden color, you want to make sure you’re adding a little more sap if continuing to a roaring boil or, if it’s getting syrupier, take out your thermometer and find out what temperature you’re at.”

At home, you can set up a system outside using your grill or even a turkey fryer (if done inside you will end up with very sticky ceilings and walls). The safest way to set up this process is to create a two-pot system, so as the raw sap starts to boil you can transfer it to boil further in a 2nd pot with a little less heat, continue adding more raw sap to the first pot then transferring it again in the process using caution not to burn the sap. Once you’ve reached the required temperature, let it cool (to ideally 180 degrees to prevent mold or yeast growth). You can use coffee filters to drain it into air-tight containers to store or into any container kept in your refrigerator for immediate use.

If this process feels a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. You can go to Howell Living History Farm for a free demonstration. Click here to register for one of multiple tours taking place on Saturdays February 18th and 25th. You can purchase a tap in their shop or elsewhere online, then at home locate any maple trees and set up your system to create homemade maple syrup. With all the hard work you put in, it will likely be the sweetest you’ve ever had!

Living off the Land: The Many Healthy Natural Resources Available to You

In Princeton and throughout Mercer County, the land and climate make it possible to stay local and well cared for. There are many natural resources and naturally grown items that can help make for a healthier you. As far back as the 1600s, the Lenape Indians inhabited the land area we call Princeton today. The creeks and forested areas provided an abundance of resources for them to nourish, through fishing and hunting. The naturally fertile soils of this area later beckoned the area’s early European settlers, who were able to sustain themselves by farming the land, due to our moderate climate. They also fished along the streams and nearby Delaware River. Urbanization and industrialization have drastically decreased the amount and varieties of fish today and many are now deemed unsafe to eat by the NJDEP.

It is believed that much of today’s Princeton was once covered in trees. Most of the beech, ash, walnut, maple, oak and chestnut trees were taken down to either be used as timber or to make room for farming. And there are still many farms around Mercer County in Hopewell, East Windsor, Lawrence and more. In Princeton, which is more built up, the best quality soil can be found in the area formerly known as Princeton Township, qualifying as Prime Farmland. It doesn’t mean it’s used for farming, but the land is made up of the right components to do so, if desired.


Today it is possible to reap the benefits of this land without having to do all the manual labor. Throughout the state’s farms, more than 100 fruits and vegetables are grown with blueberries, corn, soybeans, peppers, peaches, hay, cranberries, squash, spinach, asparagus and wheat being the top crops grown in NJ, based on the 2021 US Dept of Agriculture overview. These locally grown foods are of great benefit to everyone.

“It is fresher and more nutritious because the produce is picked when it’s ripe. It also won’t have the chemicals and waxes that they use to preserve produce when transporting long distances,” explains Sandi Della Rocca, co-owner of inMotion Fitness & Wellness and a certified health and nutrition coach. “The local farmers markets (Princeton and West Windsor) offer a variety of locally grown and in season produce.”

If you do make your way to the Princeton Farmer’s Market, you will not only find freshly picked produce, but also items created from them that can have other positive impacts. For example, you can get kombucha from OM Champagne Tea or sauerkraut and pickles from Pickle Licious. The pickles are made from Jersey grown cucumbers (when in season) and are brined in New Jersey for anywhere from 2 days up to several months, depending on the variety.

“These are fermented products that support our gut ecosystem, or the trillions of microbes living (mostly) in our large intestine that produce vitamins and other nutrients, influence gut motility, synthesize neurotransmitters, regulate the immune system, modulate inflammation, and much, much more,” shares Lee Yonish, certified nutrition consultant at Princeton Integrative Health. “Eating fermented foods like these on a regular basis promotes healthy digestion, which is the foundation of all health.”


Do you know what else is good for your health and can be found fresh in the Princeton area? Honey! Princeton Lavender has its own beehives and collects and sells it on site. Honey is known to have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety benefits; it can be good for sore throats and aid in digestion.

Also farm fresh are our local pumpkins. Every fall, my family has enjoyed going to Terhune Orchards to get pictures with and pick fresh pumpkins. We’ve loved to carve them for Halloween, but never knew pumpkins provided so many other health opportunities. Eating the seeds can help to cure acne, as they are rich in zinc, vitamin E and omega acids. You can also puree the pumpkin to create a face mask, which works to reverse damage to your skin thanks to the vitamin C and beta-carotene.


When looking for other naturally grown products that can benefit your skin, look no further than Calendula or Pot Marigold. Floral Encounters Organic Farm in Hightstown sells seeds for this flower, which is a common skincare ingredient. Ali Wall, owner of a.Wall Beauty, uses a mask made of calendula in some of her treatments.

“It has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal ingredient for sensitive or acne prone skin. It also contains linoleic acid which is a fatty acid found in our skin’s moisture barrier. Therefore, it helps to strengthen our moisture barrier, keeping our skin hydrated and healthy. And last but not least, calendula is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help to prevent skin cell damage from free radicals. Free radicals form from exposure to environmental aggressors, such as UV radiation and pollution, and can cause premature aging,” offers Wall.

Janice Hazeldine, owner of Floral Encounters, has a PhD in botanical medicine and suggests while Calendula does grow easily, its best to let the experts grow it to compound it for the creams and salves. One herb she does recommend growing yourself is Holy Basil.

“This is not your normal sweet basil that most people use, although it can be used in the same way it does have a more distinct clove like aroma and taste than regular basil,” Hazeldine shares. “This herb is what is known as an adaptogen. This means it helps to slowly move the body back to a state of wellness. A large number of herbalists (me included) believe everyone should take this herb every day for good health. A huge number of scientific studies have been done on this plant and it has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine.”

Photo Courtesy: Floral Encounters

Holy Basil has been known to improve many medical maladies, from depression and anxiety to cognitive function and broken bones. Growing it is said to be quite easy, in full sunlight and watered regularly. Hazeldine recommends cutting them down to about 3 inches just as they’re about to flower, as they will regrow, and you might get 4-5 harvests a year. If growing your own flowers feels like too much, Yarrow is a perennial plant she recommends that is found around our area in many fields and meadows. If you see it, you can grab some leaves and if you get any kind of scrape or cut, mash them and put it onto the cut for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.


Something else that is found in abundance, here and everywhere, is water. You naturally know the benefits of water to cleanse yourself or to hydrate, but did you also know that if you utilize water in a certain way, it can have other healing benefits?

NanoVi therapy, offered at 4 Elements Wellness in Princeton, is bio-identical technology that changes the molecules of water therefore reducing oxidative stress in the body. Simply inhaling the NanoVi-enhanced humidity has benefits for immune function, chronic diseases and more. The Welnamis table at 4 Elements, the only of its kind in New Jersey, also allows one to experience relaxation, stress reduction and binaural acoustic stimulation through its heated water cushion.

While there are many benefits to living in New Jersey, there are some things our bodies don’t get enough of. 4 Elements was created on that basis, that there are four elements a body needs to feel healthier and look better that are natural, but not always naturally available. Besides water the elements include fire, earth and ice. Fire, or heat offered through treatments like infrared, detoxifies the body and also benefits cellulite and pain reduction, weight loss and relaxation. Earth, inhaling and sitting amongst 100% Himalayan salt, brings back negative ions which offers antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits. And lastly ice, through Cryotherapy treatments, exposes your body to extremely cold temperatures which reduces inflammation and pain, enhancing your mood and boosting metabolism.

“These elements are from the ancient philosophy of how people used to keep themselves healthy. In today’s world, we need to discover the old ways and take care of ourselves more naturally,” explains Silvia Fedorcik, who opened 4 Elements Wellness five years ago.

The Lenapes and early European settlers had to rely upon their own skills to utilize the natural resources that abound in this area. Depending upon how resourceful you are or would like to be, our part of New Jersey still offers many opportunities for you to grow or buy your own fresh foods and flowers to create a healthier you. But today’s society isn’t always do-it-yourself. Luckily, the area also is home to practitioners who are more familiar with natural options and can use them to help you stay and feel healthful as well.

Editor’s Note

If you pay attention to what’s going on in the world, it can be overwhelming. The ongoing war in Ukraine, COVID changes in China, political strife over the leadership in countries like Peru and Brazil. In the United States alone, there is plenty to contemplate, from financial matters to political decisions on a range of topics. But, in your everyday life, it’s what is happening here that likely affects you most. And that is why we’re starting off 2023 telling you just how it is.

The January issue of Princeton Perspectives, What’s it Like Here? – Local Updates on National News is comparing, contrasting and sometimes just offering up information with regards to what is happening in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey versus nationally.

We’re starting this issue with Perspectives Revisited, to give you quick updates on some stories we have covered in the past. This month we’re focusing on local roadway safety and public education mandates.

Our Pulse of Princeton offers you a true sense of what is touching the lives of our local residents. Watch the video below to hear how people in town are reacting to some of the big issues of the day.

The national stories were abundant, as we started to focus on which to bring home in this issue. At a vulnerable age, adolescents and young adults are facing increasingly dangerous trends, so we wanted to provide you with a better understanding of what is happening more locally versus nationally. Be Alert: Serious Dangers Facing Adolescents and Young Adults takes a deeper look specifically at fentanyl drug overdoses and campus sexual assaults. It may be hard to take in, but if you are raising children, it’s a must read.

Beyond these teenage concerns, there are many items the federal government is weighing in on, from inflation to cannabis, abortion and gun control. How National Political Issues are Playing Out at the State and Local Levels delves into these issues from the angle of municipal, county and state entities.

Sadly, America has seen a dynamic increase in bias incidents in recent years. 2021 saw record levels and it’s expected 2022 tallies will reach even higher. Standing in Solidarity Against Hate and Bigotry details local happenings to conquer this hate.

Some of the hate one sees these days is with regards to the political divide. How can people move ahead? Step by step. A Political Change that Happened “First” in Princeton tells the story of one effort that’s been ongoing aiming to make political contests more even.

We know this issue is full of a lot of information, but we hope that it helps to start 2023 with a clear focus on what is happening around you. Thank you for trusting us to bring you the stories and, as always, email us here if you have something you think we should be covering. Wishing you a very Happy New Year and we look forward to being part of your journey.

The Pulse of Princeton: What issue is influencing you today?