Expanding Your Potential

What if you repurposed the time you had used to commute to work and instead of working more hours from home, took a class that might teach you a new hobby? If you’re a stay-at-home parent, and you find yourself home more now, would you feel better fulfilled if you engaged an hour a week in an academic course? Or how about testing out a new career, with an online certification class?

Most of us spent 2020 slowing down, sometimes feeling trapped at home. So, 2021 is the year to take hold of all of those things you’ve dreamt of this past year, or maybe even longer. There are many options in Princeton and beyond to expand your experiences and potential without making a major commitment.

With one of the leading academic institutions in our own backyard, it’s natural to think of Princeton University. Its Community Auditing Program (CAP) offers a chance for area residents to learn from its esteemed faculty without being matriculated students. Regularly, more than 130 courses are offered on campus across 35 academic departments, bringing in 600-700 auditors per session. When COVID-19 forced University classes online, auditing went virtual as well.

“Participation in Fall 2020 semester was less than in prior years,” explains Michael Hotchkiss, Deputy University Spokesperson. “More than 400 auditors registered for 87 virtual courses in the just-ended semester. We have heard anecdotally that participants enjoyed the virtual classes in the fall semester.”

Unfortunately, registration for this spring’s virtual auditing program is already closed. If attending courses at Princeton University is on your to-do list, you may have to wait until fall to do so (registration for Fall 2021’s Community Auditing Program begins June 1st).

However, there are other opportunities to learn from Princeton University educators right now. 25 Princeton University courses, ranging in topic from “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies” to “Paradoxes of War” are available online and open to everyone through the platforms Coursera, EdX or Kadenze. To fit your lifestyle, many of these courses can be done at your own pace. If you are simply looking to expand your mind, the courses are free to audit. However, for a small fee, you can often earn a University-backed certificate of accomplishment, which may help you professionally (note, unlike these online courses, CAP courses do not offer certificates). Companies also purchase certificate options to many of the offerings on these online education platforms for their employees to advance, so if you’re interested, you should ask your employer before enrolling.

The wonders of the internet also provide you the chance to learn from other non-local, world-renowned universities. For example, of the 3,100 currently active courses on Coursera, 32 are being offered by Yale University. Ian Shapiro, Yale’s Sterling Professor of Political Science, offers his intro course Moral Foundation of Politics on Coursera. To make it more engaging, he hired actors to portray students and he interacts with them in the lecture videos he posts online. Unlike most Coursera classes, he also offers his students virtual office hours.

“My Teaching Assistant (TA) and I set up chatrooms in the course. Students can go into discussion forums and talk to one another. My TA would look at the chatrooms and then summarize the chatroom questions for me, which I would then answer, record on video and post for the students,” Shapiro shares.

Since 2016, nearly 150,000 people have enrolled in this course and student engagement is now 400% higher than before the pandemic. And more people are completing courses, too. Coursera had a 2% completion rate for most courses pre-pandemic, now it is 17%. Additionally, you’ll be learning with people worldwide.

“What I actually like most of all is the international dimension. A lot of the emails I get are from India, Latin America, people saying that where they are from, it’s this course or no course,” Shapiro explains. “So, the way we make top American courses free worldwide to anyone that has a cell phone – that’s the feature of it I like most.”

Beyond these platforms, the pandemic has also made other international academic offerings accessible for 2021. Is Oxford on your bucket list? No problem! As a direct response to the pandemic, University of Oxford created Weekly Oxford Worldwide (WOW). The program launched last October with 787 students, from 74 countries and is a mixture of 10 recorded lectures and 10 live sessions, all online. Unfortunately, WOW Course enrollment has already closed for the upcoming session, but don’t dismay, as sessions will open for later this spring and again for summer. Oxford also offers over 100 online short courses, many of which still have openings that you can take now.

“Our short online courses are asynchronous – there are no ‘live’ meetings. The interaction takes place in online forums,” details Gail Anderson, Head of Communications and Marketing for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. “The asynchronous nature of these means that people can take them from anywhere in the world, and study at whatever time of day it suits them.”

So, the Eastern Time zone here in Princeton will accommodate just fine! There is a fee to enroll in these Oxford classes, and you can additionally opt to earn credit and receive a certificate of completion.

In our time zone, did you know that nearly 200 courses are also being offered for the upcoming session of Princeton Adult School? The courses, traditionally held in person at Princeton High School, are now mostly offered via Zoom and other online formats, allowing you to dabble in that hobby you always talked about, learn the language for the country you dream to visit or advance your skills to become more appealing in the job market. The virtual nature also enables Princeton Adult School to utilize top educators from all over the country, and for your former roommate in California to sign up with you! The topics cover nearly every interest.

“Our bridge classes and our beginning language classes in French and Spanish usually sell out. Last semester everyone wanted to doodle, draw and paint,” shares Princeton Adult School’s Executive Director Anne Brener. “Photography classes fill up and bead weaving, people want to do things with their hands.”

Princeton Adult School’s offerings range from fun and entertaining to fully immersive and career-advancing. The Queen’s Gambit has created an appetite for chess, so Princeton Adult School partnered with nationally ranked Chess players at Princeton University to teach a new class this spring. Olsson’s Fine Foods, from Palmer Square, will drop off or ship supplies to enable you to take part in “Mozzarella-Making at a Distance” or one of their other cheese-making classes. And if you’re looking for LinkedIn strategies, how to pick a foolproof password or how to work from home more efficiently, there are courses for that, too.

“We have a whole area on business and technology,” adds Brener. “Knitting, crocheting, good art courses, literature and writing – some people are looking at it to use professionally and some people just want to write.”

34 different art classes are also being offered for spring, mostly online. But if you yearn to get together and be outside, there is watercolor painting to be held at Hinds Plaza, following CDC guidelines.

If the artistic part of your brain is yearning for inspiration, arts opportunities are vast in our area. After offering a plein air oil painting class outdoors last year, West Windsor Arts Council may offer some outdoor options for spring. At this point, a variety of classes for all skill levels including painting, drawing, gentle yoga and poetry writing are currently planned to be virtual and are registering now.

There are also numerous classes at the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) where adults can engage artistically, with both virtual and small group, in person classes being offered.

Despite the pandemic, the desire has grown for in-studio ceramic classes. So, they have been expanded to offer more open studio time to hone skills developing wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques.

“In-person ceramics classes follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines,” notes Melissa Kuscin, Programming/Marketing Director for Arts Council of Princeton. “Wheel throwing stations are set at least 6 feet apart to ensure social distancing, class size is limited, materials are not shared, and masks are required at all times. Students are assigned a station for the duration of the semester and all surfaces in the studio are cleaned with industrial-strength disinfectant after each class.”

In addition to ceramics, ACP hosts many painting and drawing classes. It also offers a chance for other artistic endeavors into writing, children’s book illustration, fiber arts, sewing, even Flamenco dancing.

Expanding your potential is both mental and physical. For more dancing opportunities, one could also explore classes at Princeton Ballet School. With enhanced air purification systems in its facilities and social distancing and mask requirements, the school’s Open Division offers in-person classes for those ages 13 and older. You could start as a beginner in ballet or enter in an intermediate or advanced class. There are also offerings in modern, BioMechanics and CardioBallet. Small in-person and virtual class options are available, too.

“We have something for everyone,” says Julie Diana Hench, Executive Director of Princeton Ballet School and American Repertory Ballet. “If you are age 3 to 103, you can choose from a variety of classes, featuring outstanding faculty, live music and flexible schedules.”

If you like the arabesque, you can enjoy it in ballet class or learn about other creatures that stand on one leg! Though the pandemic has limited some opportunities, learning about the creatures and plants that surround us continues at The Watershed Institute in Hopewell. A two-part Zoom and in-person class about Owls was offered last week and will again take place in February, and a four-session course about eco-poetry begins later this month.

Whether your interests lie in nature, the arts, academics, technology or beyond, the in-person and virtual worldwide opportunities in 2021 are endless. And thanks to the expanse of virtual learning, you could sign up with a friend from Chicago or your cousin from Houston!

Challenge yourself to take on one new thing, either for personal or professional gain. Your expanded mind will thank you.

Wintery Wonderings in the New Year

There’s no question, COVID has taken away or altered many of the outings and recreational activities we’ve previously enjoyed. Add the colder weather, and some of the outdoor options we’d turned to are severely limited. But that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck inside all winter. There are many things to do in the Princeton area that can kick-start fun and exploration in the new year!


Princeton is a unique suburb with its robust collection of restaurants and eateries. Just because COVID-life has limited indoor and outdoor seating doesn’t mean one can’t eat out and indulge! Now is your chance to safely explore the options and find your favorites, with a food tour taste test.

First, pick the food you want to sample (my family tried it with grilled cheese). Then determine the locations where it is offered, but remember you will be buying and tasting each so you may not want too many (we narrowed down 6 locales, as some places were not open the day we toured). Define the parameters for which you will judge a winner (ranking on looks and taste, we voted on a scale of 1 to 10 for each). Lastly, drive into town and either park and walk from site to site (preferred, since it’s a lot of eating) or if your locations are spread out, drive from one to another.

One advantage of COVID is the ease of ordering ahead (whether by phone or online) and curbside pick-up (if you go by car!). This limits your wait times upon arrival! At each stop, we divided our sandwich into four parts (for our family of four) and we sampled, voted and recorded our opinions. Then we moved onto the next. To keep things comparable, try your best to order the same item at every site. We chose the basic grilled cheese sandwich from Princeton Soup & Sandwich, Say Cheez Cafe, PJs Pancake House, Chuck’s Spring Street Cafe, D’Angelo Italian Market and Hoagie Haven. There were some disappointments but also delicious surprises, and it certainly was a boisterous and filling afternoon! I won’t tell you who we picked as the winner, but one eatery did score 9s for both looks and taste! I would love to hear from you when you give it a try!

If grilled cheese is not your thing, there are plenty of other options. You can certainly enjoy a Princeton hot chocolate crawl (we did this tour a few days later)! Princeton Online’s Social Media Editor has crafted a list you can find here!


Beyond food, this season can be full of snowfall and winter vegetation, which can create a beautiful backdrop for photoshoots! Typically planned in warmer weather, wintertime can create picture-perfect ambiance with bright sunny days and light reflecting off the snow! And right now, after the holidays, is the perfect time.

“Take advantage of this downtime to plan a photoshoot with a fun wardrobe and accessories!” suggests Jen Davis of Photography by Jen Davis. “Cuddle with blankets, make s’mores near your outdoor fire pit, sip hot chocolate and have fun together! Popular locations are emptier, and the winter light is beautiful and soft.”

This can be a great socially distant activity for kids with their friends with poses, varied accessories and pure silliness. For your family, it’s a good excuse to get everyone out of the house! Hire a professional to capture the moments or simply head out with a pair of fingerless gloves, your iPhone and a tripod. It will be fun to get creative and change out of your loungewear, too!

Beyond your own backyard, there are many sites in our area that help make great photographs. Davis says the grounds of Princeton University provide a perfect backdrop, with the beautiful architecture and ivy that sticks around all winter. The tree-lined drive and historical features at Princeton Battlefield as well as the pond and walking trails at Hamilton’s Sayen Gardens can also add warmth to your winter-time photos. Visiting sites at non-traditional times can also be appealing.

“Local Christmas tree farms are always a fun location, especially after the holidays in their off-season,” adds Davis.

And what speaks winter more than Christmas trees?


Beyond decorating, trees offer another activity that can be fun for all ages. Did you know that Marquand Park is home to over 108 species of trees? In addition to the walking paths, playground/sand area and ball field, the 17-acre historic preserve contains an arboretum and woodlands.

“The grounds of Marquand Park had been under the ownership of several horticulturists before it was given to the town in 1953,” explains Rebecca Flemer, Board Member of the Marquand Park Foundation. “First was Judge Richard S. Field who built the house and spent at least ten years planning and executing his garden. The next owner, Susan Brown, collected roses, Japanese maples, and other varietals. Finally, Eleanor Marquand, wife of Princeton professor Allan Marquand, carried on with planting trees and established elaborate flower beds (no longer in existence). The board of trustees for the park has continued planting trees and the park is now recognized as a Grade 1 Accredited Arboretum by the American Public Garden Association.”

In addition to listings of every species on the park’s website, each tree is uniquely identified. There are a few digital options to guide you through. You can walk around with your phone and pull up the Marquand Park inventory map, then click on each pin to learn information about that specific tree. There are Google Earth tours of the historic and unique trees within the park and also an OAKtober tour (created last October), detailing the park’s Oak trees. If you prefer to be guided by an expert, Princeton Adult School’s “Name that Tree” course will offer a Zoom and socially distant on-site class later this spring.

For another timber-filled location, head over to the Grounds for Sculpture, home not only to a vast variety of outdoor art and sculptures but also to more than 70 species of trees! Winter is a wonderful time to explore all of the horticulture and an interactive map is available to provide information as you wander the property.

“In January, the trailing, viny shrub of the Winter Jasmine (jasminum nudiflorum) springs to life with bright yellow flowers; and in late February, the Flowering Plum Tree (prunus mume) reveals white and light pink spring blossoms signaling the advent of spring,” explains George Chevalier, Grounds for Sculpture’s Manager of Marketing.

Grounds for Sculpture traditionally closes down in the winter months but found it offers a unique outdoor opportunity for many during this pandemic. In addition to in-person and virtual class offerings, they’ve extended their season so you can explore the trees and artwork on site. Through March 31st advance timed tickets will be reduced to $10/person, remember to plan ahead.


There are also things one can do outdoors to keep your heart pumping! Many people began or rekindled their relationships with nature when COVID forced more outdoor activity and that doesn’t need to end just because the weather is colder.

After writing the article Tracks and Trails – the Hidden Gems all Around Us for Princeton Perspectives’ June issue, my family spent many weekends picking out hikes to try. One of our favorites was the Rockhopper Trail, which traverses back and forth over the creek and has beautiful wooded scenery. Portions of this area were once used by the Continental Army during the Battle of Monmouth. Though that took place in the warm air of June (in 1778), you can try to imagine their journey as you walk through now.

With fallen leaves and other natural shifts, even a hike you took this summer or fall may feel completely different this season. Just beware of any ice and be sure to wear sturdy shoes.

If hiking with friends or your family, you might want to go to Herrontown Woods and explore the Princeton Botanical Art Garden. You may also enjoy the wide trails around Greenway Meadows, at the Pennington Loop and at St. Michael’s Farm Preserve.

“St. Michaels Farm Preserve is my favorite hike in winter because it offers a variety of habitat to enjoy,” shares Tina Notas, D&R Greenway’s Director of Land Stewardship. “I enjoy taking my family on trails through the farm fields and woods where you can see and hear various winter birds including American kestrels, Northern harriers, Eastern bluebirds, different species of sparrows, and woodpeckers.”

Your family might also be entertained by the trail and tributary crossings found in the new preserve in the Sourlands, The Woosamosa Ridge Trail. Another advantage to winter hiking is thinner crowds. On wider trails it is less of an issue, but if you prefer terrains with a narrow path, this may be the time to try them. Dry Run Creek, Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve and Omick Woods all offer great winter hikes via a narrower walking path.

While many are loving the family time the pandemic has forced on us, you may also be looking for an opportunity to be alone. Pryde’s Point Preserve can be a great option for solitude.

“I like to park at the Rocktown Lambertville Rd parking lot and head down the yellow trail to the cottage. Upon arriving at the cottage, I love to check out the spring house and then wander down the red trail,” explains Carolyn Klaube, Sourland Conservancy Stewardship Coordinator. “The sound of the Alexauken creek running over all those boulders is like stress cleanse to a busy mind. I sometimes just stop and stare into the deep pools and daydream of warmer days and dipping my toes into the cold, clean water.”

Mountain Lakes Preserve offers some easy terrain that can be enjoyed when snow-covered. Cedar Ridge Preserve, also relatively flat, can be fun in winter as you observe birds and the trees and shrubs around. If you prefer more varied surface options, head to Sourland Mountain Preserve in Montgomery and Hillsborough with opportunities from beginner to more experienced. And if you have the gear and enjoy the adventure, Baldpate Mountain offers wonderful winter hikes and also some back-country skiing (though it is closed Wed-Sat until Feb 13th for Deer Management)!

Perhaps you prefer to enjoy the outdoors in a more manicured environment? The synthetic ice skating rink at Palmer Square has once again been set up and will remain behind the Nassau Inn through the winter season. Masks are required and all skates are disinfected between use.

The Ice Skating Center at Mercer County Park is also open for the season. A bit protected from the elements with a rooftop, the facility is open-sided. Due to COVID-19, the rink is operating with a limited capacity of 25 people, no skate rentals and masks must be worn at all times. It also closes between sessions for cleaning. You can find the January public skating schedule here.

Finally, playing around in the snow is the easiest way to be active outdoors! You can go sledding at some of Princeton’s favorite hills including at Smoyer Park, Springdale Country Club, Greenway Meadows and off the parking lot of the Westminster Choir College.

Or, you can play in your own yard! I challenge you to organize a neighborhood snowman contest after the next major snowfall! It’s the perfect socially distant yet socially engaging event! To be completely COVID-safe, you can plan it all online by creating a sign-up genius for neighbors to participate, emailing out the rules and timeframe and asking all to vote via an online Google Doc Voting Form.

So pray for some snow, get out, enjoy and live up the winter! However you choose to kick-start your escapades, I hope you enjoy the fresh air while you create some wonderful memories!

Editor’s Note

For most of us alive today, there has never been a year like 2020. While there has been war and strife, nothing has taken place on American soil (since the Spanish flu) to keep us from gathering with family and friends, enjoying activities and life as we’d like. The pandemic has been the most life-altering, but the year has also been host to heightened protests for racial equity, severe economic struggles for many, and political divisions like none can recall. I suppose we should feel lucky in Princeton that we weren’t also attacked by raging wildfires, like those on the west coast.

Going through trauma and tragedy hardly leaves anyone unscathed. Those scars can be hard to get past or they can be viewed as opportunities. In this month’s issue of Princeton Perspectives, How has 2020 Shaped Princeton?, we look at who has been affected and how.

We start with our Pulse of Princeton, to hear from our community. And we asked, “How has 2020 shaped you?” Click the video to see their viewpoints.

Then we took it a step further and asked even more people. While it’s impossible to know the true reality of all 28,000+ residents, we are able to share with you a snapshot of what several are experiencing in 2020 and the People of Princeton. Using a survey of 80 people, Princeton Perspectives details how they have been affected, what their experiences have been like and how they feel about the world around them.

A sector of that population, the students, have been harshly hit by a pandemic that quickly and dramatically altered the way they learn, the way they are taught, the way they socialize and so much more. But, as our guest writer shows us, they may well be the most resilient of our population. While there certainly have been struggles, there is great optimism in 2020 and the Strength of our Children.

As a whole, how has Princeton fared? Some aspects of our government, businesses and local resources received demands for change in 2020 and others simply had to succumb. But none have endured the year without a fight. In the Face of 2020, Princeton Stands Tall takes a look at the changes that came about this year, the tools that were used to get by and where that leaves everything heading into 2021.

Of course, Princeton is not Princeton without our local nonprofits. We are a town comprised of volunteers and organizations eager to help. Yet, despite the best intentions, it wasn’t easy this year. In 2020: Its Effects on Princeton Nonprofits our guest writer gives us insight into the ways organizations have adapted to provide what they needed for our community.

And lastly, don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of the homepage and check out this month’s Perspectives Revisited, as we give you some current information on articles of the past.

There is a bleak outlook for winter as the country’s top medical experts tell us the worst is yet to come. But the vaccine is rolling out and the best way to cope is to take charge of what you can. In January, Princeton Perspectives will help you kick off the new year with a collection of ways to look ahead, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Though your options seem limited, there is a lot in and around Princeton to look forward to!

2020 is the year we launched Princeton Perspectives and is has been greater than we could have imagined. We thank you for opening your arms to us and for your loyal readership. Please continue to share Princeton Perspectives with friends and family and click here to be added to our distribution list. As 2020 comes to an end, embrace yourself with the wonders of the holidays. Whether you celebrate or not, enjoy the lights, the decorations and the spirit of joy that has come into town. We wish you all Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!  See you in 2021!

Pulse of Princeton: How has 2020 shaped you?

We’d love to include YOUR perspective! If you’d like to contribute a video for next month’s Pulse of Princeton, click here and provide your name and email address to be contacted.

2020 and the People of Princeton

The happenings of the past year have shaped us all – from the COVID-19 pandemic to the economy, racial justice protests as well as politics – some have felt things more than others.

To understand the dynamics, Princeton Perspectives surveyed 80 local adults. The replies were anonymous but the facts remain clear, 88% of respondents felt strongly that 2020 has complicated their lives in some way. Nearly 80% are maintaining the same financial status this year (with most now working from home) and 55% have had no major health issues, but that doesn’t mean things are simple. Mentally and emotionally it’s been a challenge. Logistically, trips have been canceled, working-from-home get tricky and the expense of more groceries is challenging some.

“Economically, socially, financially, spiritually – everything has taken a negative hit in town. Mental health has also taken a hit,” shared one respondent.

The inevitable uncertainty of what’s to come is hard for many to handle.

“Actions that used to require little or no thought, because they were habitual or safe, now require forethought and greater planning,” noted another survey-taker.

Whether it was the balance of home maintenance, like coordinating pest control and HVAC workers with everyone home or the increased demand to care for children and help with their remote schooling, 2020 has added burdens and changed what had been predictable.

“I’m used to having children in school and a set routine,” stated another. “This year, depending on the week and COVID cases in school, kids may or may not be at school in-person. And that makes planning things as a mom trickier. Also, waiting in line at grocery stores only to find they are still out of Lysol and other cleaning supplies. Then off to another store I go!”

In this new normal we are living in, most of the people polled said Princetonians are doing a great job following protocols and helping to control the spread of the virus. 63% feel the resources and information provided (through the Mayor’s daily email, Governor’s briefings, websites, etc.) have helped them through.

With closures and limitations slowing life down a bit, many are taking advantage of spending more quality time with family, reading more books and enjoying time in nature. There are other beneficial changes, too. People are loving the outdoor dining on Witherspoon Street and around downtown, less traffic on local roadways and more available parking. Several of those surveyed have used the downtime to clean up their house (37%), take better care of themselves (26%), learn a new hobby (13%) and advance their education or career (8%).

With fewer places to go and a decrease in organized activities, one person noted maybe we were not thinking straight before.

This time has been “a pause to stop, breathe, take stock in how unsustainable the pace of so many of our lives may have been prior to the pandemic.”

The slowdown, however, has had its costs. Though 53% say they are willing to dine outdoors at local restaurants, there is an acknowledgement the downtown economy has sacrificed the most in 2020. To help them shop, curbside pick-ups were noted as a beneficial change and 48% said that is their preferred method of shopping today while 41% said they will go into specific stores as needed.

Having a social life, whether out at a town establishment or in other ways, has also suffered. Only one person admitted they would go inside to enjoy a bar today. People really miss being with friends and family, though they’re not willing to risk getting COVID to do so. Nearly three-quarters of respondents told Princeton Perspectives they stay at home much more than they used to. 83% of the people we heard from will only spend time with others outdoors, and 74% are hanging out alone, with their spouse or only within a small bubble of people. They feel this social loss for their kids, too.

“Our kids’ feelings of connectedness to others and independence from adults — no more play dates, walks in town, shopping on their own for a birthday or holiday,” explains a respondent.

67% of those surveyed have kids and 61% have chosen to take advantage of the hybrid model or in-person options for them, as opposed to complete remote schooling (though that number seems to be shifting towards more remote as winter progresses). Many also pointed out the changes in school attendance and school events are negatively impacting their children. When they’re not in school, parents are still finding ways for their children to socialize. Only 4% admitted their children do not play with others at all right now while 64% are permitting only outside play – most of that being within a tight bubble of friends or with only one or two peers.

While most take note of how the pandemic has affected them, there’s also the acknowledgement of the hardships facing others. 51% of those surveyed have donated more to non-profits than usual and 23% have volunteered more this year than in years past, including a heightened need to reach out to those that live alone. Isolation is a word we’ve heard more this year than ever, and something to be concerned with not just for the older generation but for children schooling at home as well.

If you learned at home, that used to be mean you were homeschooled. Today, that term is often confused with remote schooling, children enrolled in a public or independent/private school but learning at home. 2020 surely is a year that has made us redefine words and add new ones into our vocabulary, as one respondent cited.

“I think it would be interesting to look at the new terms everyone now knows after the pandemic: remote learning, hybrid model, social distancing.”

After the death of George Floyd, the terms social justice and racial justice became more commonplace than in recent years. And this re-energized movement has affected many. People gathered worldwide, including thousands by the Princeton gates, declaring a need for change. Yet, 60% of those we heard from said they haven’t seen much change with regards to the impact it’s had around town, noting it takes time. Respondents were fairly evenly divided in their beliefs that the biggest changes so far have occurred in our schools (20%) and with regards to interpersonal relationships (18%). Nearly 40% stated they haven’t seen any positive changes yet and one noted they think things have unfortunately gotten worse since June. One public change locally, which got unanimous school board approval, was the removal of John Witherspoon from the name of Princeton’s middle school.

“Changing the name of the school is a slap in the face of history. At the time slavery was socially acceptable. I am disappointed and do NOT Consider it an improvement,” commented one survey-taker.

Another added, “Changing the name of the school was a waste unless they change programming.”

It was noted in the Perspectives Revisited section last issue that Princeton schools have added several new racial literacy courses and more equity training for staff. The local private schools have also pushed forth new plans for racial equity.

The past year has also seen some major economic ups and downs, On one end, 5% of our survey respondents have lost jobs this year. Local non-profits, like the Mobile Food Pantry and Share my Meals say they have seen an increase in need for food as the months of the pandemic roll on, with 15% of those we surveyed finding 2020 to be financially difficult. On the other end, Princeton has the lowest unemployment rate in NJ and thanks to the strong rebound of the stock market, a handful of people told us they have found the year to be financially beneficial.

Some may say that’s thanks to President Trump, though he’s a leader the majority of Princetonians don’t favor. 57% claim the government has played a negative role in their lives this year and those same people believe 2021 will improve for them once President-elect Biden is sworn in. Living in Princeton recently as a Republican or Conservative-leaning voter has been difficult for several who commented on the survey.

“The inability to freely express your opinions in an open exchange of information and ideas has created a deep divide among friends and social groups,” explained one person.

This is a reality with politics and the pandemic, as the way people distance and when or where they mask-up has pitted more than one family against another. Stress amongst friends and family, caused by these issues as well as the pandemic in general, has weighed on many.

The struggles are real and it is easy to see the negatives. But with the vaccine rolling out and 2021 around the corner, there is hope that 2020 has shaped a different way of thinking that can lead us to better days going forward.

As one person put it, “I think we are more appreciative of what we do have.”

And another regaled, “It has been a challenging year, but Princetonians are resilient!”

In the Face of 2020, Princeton Stands Tall

In January 1777, Washington’s troops marched from Trenton to Princeton, for a successful attack on the British soldiers. Today, more than 240 years later, the Mercer Oak still stands as a witness to the success of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Princeton. While life in 2020 has presented a very different type of war, the year has seen several battles and those who call this town home are fighting hard, determined to be the victors once again.

“It has been an overwhelming experience to witness the community pull together to support one another and create unique experiences to keep the downtown vibrant,” say Palmer Square and Nassau Inn Vice President, Lori Rabon. “The creativity, collaboration, hard work and dedication we have seen from each one of our tenants and countless other businesses and community partners in Princeton speaks volumes to their character and the spirit of this town.”

Never seen before, a Winter Village has formed throughout the downtown shopping district and at Princeton Shopping Center. Pop-up cabins selling handcrafted and specialty items take advantage of a safer outdoor space while offering a chance for small business owners to sell their goods. Stores around town are offering discounts if you have a receipt from another, to promote shopping local. For example, spend $20 or more at Toobydoo and Princeton Record Exchange will give you a discount on your purchase there! And igloos, like those outside Yankee Doodle Tap Room and outdoor tents line the streets, creating opportunities to dine safer at restaurants. While curbside pick-up and online ordering were some of the early transformations to the COVID-19 pandemic, local businesses are continuing to adapt in the fight against what 2020 has brought on.

“While they may have turned to e-commerce to help sell their product, they never lost touch with their messaging or deliverance, offering a superb product in the most hospitable way. We have seen boxed meal kits to make at home, alcoholic beverages to go, private shopping experiences (by way of appointment), Zoom shopping, local delivery and more,” adds Rabon.

To pivot their business model and stay afloat, the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was essential to many. That money, a lifeline, came and was quickly spent. Then some businesses were able to benefit from the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Small Business Resiliency Fund grants offered this summer. While a blessing, not all were able to receive them at that time. While they wait for additional help from Washington, more store owners are grateful for a second round of 13 Chamber Foundation grants just released to assist them. But even more is needed.

“We are working with the Grant committee and the Advisory Committee to consider a winter need and opportunity for additional businesses who don’t meet the original criteria,” explains John Goedecke, Foundation President.

Theo’s of Princeton Salon, an early recipient of the grant, has found it hard to make ends meet but is keeping positive.

“I instantly paid the rent with the grant. I asked the landlord in the beginning if he could give me half the rent off and he agreed,” says Theo Codrington, the salon proprietress. “I always think things will work out. They will work out, whichever way it goes I think it’s supposed to go that way. I’m from the Caribbean, there’s not a whole lot of stress about stuff.”

Theo’s is being flexible with clients, and luckily only has a staff of two. Like other establishments, adaptability has been key. Government restrictions forced Jammin’ Crepes to change its casual dining restaurant was into an online and all takeout venue and they used their grant to help defray those expenses.

“There are the costs that are added, particularly in terms of packaging. When we do our pricing, those materials aren’t built into the pricing to the scale you now need to have to accommodate COVID-safety requirements,” shares Jammin’ Crepes co-owner Kathy Klockenbrink. “The fund was helpful in terms of stemming some of those costs. Then the amount of plexiglass that has to go up, and gloves – we go through more gloves than you’d imagine.”

To help survive the coming winter, Jammin’ Crepes has been working with Princeton Design Guild using vestibule panes from the old Post Office to adapt their interior space. The goal is to provide safety for both their staff and guests, but the local virus numbers will dictate when or whether they open indoors. In all, their 2020 sales are down, but they are grateful for a town that’s behind their success.

“We feel fortunate our customers have been really supportive of us,” offers Klockenbrink. “By being creative and doing other things – we tried Sunday brunches, Friday BBQ dinners, cake sales, expanding our retail products, a lot of holiday packages available now for grab and go and online,” they are staying open.

The grants came about from a partnership between the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Princeton University and the municipal government. Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert was part of that team, one of several collaborations Princeton worked on this year.

We partnered with the library and school district to pull together princetoncovid.org, a centralized place for people to go for trusted information,” Lempert recalls. “With Princeton University and the Princeton Children’s Fund to provide rent and utility assistance; with the [Princeton] Theological Seminary to provide emergency housing for those needing to quarantine; with multiple groups to provide food assistance; with school nurses to help with contact tracing; with the Arts Council [of Princeton] on signage and temporary public art projects” and more.

Collaborations between retail and community are keeping vacant storefronts alive. You can see the Arts Council of Princeton’s latest display, created with Miya Table and Home, as the Princeton Paper Crane Project is in a window on Palmer Square West. There are art gallery displays from the Princeton University Art Museum beautifying windows along Hulfish Street and a Nutcracker display from the American Repertory Ballet is in the former Homestead space.

The municipal government is also working to utilize some vacant storefronts to create further business opportunities for local shops, with Mr. Rogers’ Neighbors Kindness Project volunteers using the space to sell pre-packaged gifts from those local merchants. Lempert was also critical in the decision this summer to turn Witherspoon Street into a “strEATery” by creating a one-way traffic pattern allowing for more outdoor dining areas and curbside pick-up locations. It’s a move many residents have praised and are hoping to maintain.

“This quick redesign happened to coincide with the municipality’s longer-term Witherspoon corridor redesign initiative, and we are now considering making these changes permanent. We plan to create some additional parking on Nassau Street to help make up for some of the spots that were lost on Witherspoon – by converting the underused taxi stand into metered spots,” explains Lempert.

While the outdoor space may have helped many restaurants survive so far, there’s debate whether their advantage is further hurting other Witherspoon retailers, as Jack Morrison notes.

“The outside dining component was very welcomed by the restaurants in town and unfortunately not as much by businesses that rely on convenient access and parking.”

The permanency of such a plan has now created a growing tension in town. Morrison, President of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), is sensitive to the issue, while also focusing on his own businesses. Owner of the JM Group (Blue Point Grill, Kristine’s, Witherspoon Grill, Nassau Street Seafood and the Princeton Farmers’ Market), Morrison’s team revamped their operations, with re-tooled on-line dining options and curbside and contactless take-out, to ensure COVID-safe and accessible eating opportunities for guests. He’s also, working closely with the municipality, on behalf of all merchants.

“The PMA initiated weekly Zoom calls in early April, coordinated with the town government, open to the public but primarily business-oriented covering all things related to COVID with resources, support and information. In the early months we had 150+ participants. We now average 85 – 120 participating,” shares Morrison.

Princeton-area businesses have also received help from relationships with the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“The Chamber has done a great job of adapting from an in-person, events-based organization to a remote event information and business connection organization,” Goedecke notes.

Adapting is a keyword for 2020 survival and Princeton Public Library (PPL) is another example. Within two days of closing their physical doors in March, the library collaborated with the town and Princeton Public Schools to create princetoncovid.org and it continued to modify throughout the year.

“We’ve done two redesigns of our website since March, one to make it easier for people to connect with our digital resources and the other to give comprehensive information about our reopening plans,” details Jennifer Podolsky, PPL executive director. “Work had already been under way on new digital platforms for programming and our events calendar and we implemented them immediately — and offered a community-wide calendar of virtual events to help other organizations who were virtualizing programming at the same time.”

The library was still eager to physically open and began to offer book pick-ups from the Community Room back in July. In October, it opened all floors to the public, with limited hours and restrictions.

“We’ve known for a long time that libraries are more than just buildings. During the pandemic, a lot more people are learning that. The reality that digital content is becoming ever more important will have to factor in our plans going forward,” adds Podolsky.

Though they began before 2020, discussions about race and racial literacy were common offerings through PPL this year. Mayor Lempert explains, the national and local push for change also shaped municipal practices.

“We have expanded our network for posting jobs, and now advertise with the African American Chamber of Commerce and the National Forum for Black Public Administrators. In addition, the Civil Rights Commission has been working with members of Not In Our Town to develop a racial equity impact assessment that can be used to inform decision making.”

Additional help is also being sought for those in crisis, so people are able to connect to better resources before the police may be called in. Princeton’s Department of Human Services is hiring a new outreach coordinator to meet these growing needs of our community. Changes in financial status, which had been assisted by the eviction moratorium, are also a concern. In the spring, Princeton Children’s Fund managed donations from Princeton University and others to provide emergency assistance for rent and utilities, but those funds were used up by September. Housing Initiatives of Princeton is now working with the town on a new program to offer rental assistance through the winter.

The changing weather will be a test for many around town and several businesses have already fallen victim to 2020. There is hope, however, that through adaptations and collaborations between people, businesses and groups, a light will shine forward and the resiliency learned throughout the year will show our town’s spirit and keep Princeton standing tall.

“It has really encouraged people to be creative and to think outside the box and to not take this lying down,” observes Klockenbrink. “People have said, OK, I can do this and I will figure out how to do this. I think people are figuring out how to do it together. Though sometimes it can seem like a divisive world, people are together.”

Editor’s Note

It feels like we could all use a little comforting right now. To find a way to embrace the coming holiday season instead of feeling worse for its arrival. Whether you’re emotionally worn from politics, feeling downtrodden about the pandemic, struggling with employment or scared about the economy, overwhelmed with hybrid or remote schooling, or a myriad of other life realities, we’ve all spent enough time bemoaning our situations. Now, it’s time to focus on the positives.

Princeton Perspectives is hopeful we can give you a pick-me-up this month, with Mind, Body and Soul: Healings for the Holidays. It can be hard to come above water when you feel you are drowning, but there are little things you can do to help find your way out. As Thanksgiving approaches, finding those optimistic moments in life will not only help you feel better but appreciate that the holidays are here.

We start with our Pulse of Princeton, to remind you that traditions are what keep us connected. Even if they need to be altered a bit for 2020, we can still carry them forward this year. It can be heartening to see what holiday traditions other locals plan to embrace, despite the pandemic.

Mind: The way we think holds a lot of weight when it comes to our outlook on life. In Gratitude: Moving on in a Meaningful Way, we are reminded to search for the good things and hold on to them. There are small ways to be grateful, and each small step can lead us to greater joy. It is also essential in our tumultuous year to control what we can. Giving back and feeling like you have a role in things that happen, can provide great meaning in these times.

Body: Our physical well-being and appearance can also play a big factor in how we feel on any given day. Once again, this is something you can take control of. Be Brave, Keep Your Body Moving reminds us that we can start small and trust ourselves to receive a positive outcome. How can you get out of your pandemic rut and start being more physically fit? Read on to learn more.

Soul: Our souls are at the heart of it all. If we nourish them properly, we can feel fulfilled or at least on our way to better days. So, what’s the best way to do so? With food, of course! Food for the Soul reminds us that family meal traditions can be continued this year, or if you’d like to try something new, there are several options! Some of our favorite local restaurants contributed recipes to help you fill your bellies with yummy goodness this holiday season.

And what is Thanksgiving without turkey?  It’s the icon of the holiday, the reminder Thanksgiving is here, and it is bred and cultivated across New Jersey and beyond. You may see wild turkeys from time to time in your yard, but there is a lot of thought and effort put into those that are pastured on farms. Gobble, Gobble, Turkeys are Here shares everything you didn’t realize you wanted to know about turkeys, farms and more in our Garden State.

Be sure to scroll through the site to check out our new addition: Perspectives Revisited. Life continues after our issues post, and sometimes a topic we covered has an update. We hope this new feature helps you stay current on Princeton happenings! You can also stay in-the-know by subscribing to Princeton Perspectives. Click here to get the newest issue delivered straight to your inbox.

Next month, we’ll reflect on several aspects of this year and how 2020 has shaped Princeton. We look forward to sharing those perspectives with you. While it may be different than in years past, we hope you can embrace the goodness around you and have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

The Pulse of Princeton: What favorite holiday traditions are you determined to embrace, despite the pandemic?

We’d love to include YOUR perspective! If you’d like to contribute a video for next month’s Pulse of Princeton, click here and provide your name and email address to be contacted.

Food for the Soul

Many of us are yearning to be with those we love for the holidays. Yet, COVID-19 still threatens the safety of doing so. After eight months of altering our lives to stay healthy and safe, we need a way to feel fulfilled. Food has a way of helping to heal some of these wounds (as many readers’ scales may attest to!). The right foods can bring back memories, create new ones and warm our souls. So, where better to find the best foods and recipes than amongst the amazing array of restaurants in the Princeton area. We reached out to some favorites and asked them to help us enjoy the season by sharing special recipes with our readers. Each chef or owner has a recipe that reminds them of their family and Thanksgivings growing up. They are also offering up a unique opportunity for you to create one of their restaurant dishes – one they are serving this Thanksgiving season! Whether you’ll be eating for one or a few, we hope these foods help you feel connected and nourish your soul. If you can’t be around the same table, share the recipes with your far-away loved ones and you can enjoy eating them together, virtually, this holiday season.

Raoul Momo, of the Terra Momo Restaurant Group, satisfies many Princeton-area eaters at his restaurants Teresa Caffe and Mediterra. His mom (born in Italy) loves food and loves where she came from. As he grew up, Thanksgiving provided an opportunity for her to share both through her cooking.

“Immigrants, they don’t let go of their traditions,” shares Momo. “But at some point they become American and they have to start a new tradition, Thanksgiving. That’s what my mom did. She totally adopted Thanksgiving.”

She embraced it by spending three days preparing, in order to provide a full spread of her Italian favorites as well as a traditional American Thanksgiving feast.

“We had all the Italian offerings like Italian wedding soup, lasagna, and also Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes and who knows what else. We’d start eating about 2pm and it went throughout the night. Then we’d eat for days! And my mother never wanted any help,” Momo recalls.

At Terresa Caffe, they have to utilize recipes that can be made for 300-400 people on a busy night, so Teresa Momo’s lasagna has never been served. Yet, it was such a part of his Thanksgiving growing up that Raoul Momo is sharing the recipe now. It had, like all of her other dishes, been something his mom made through touch and feel but he recently started to ensure his nearly 80-year old mom’s best recipes are written down. He’s even sharing her homemade ragu sauce to use in it, too!

Mediterra serves up food that stems from nearly 24 cultures that surround the Mediterranean Sea. This season, it’s also offering a traditional Thanksgiving Box-to-Table, that could include a separate turkey if you don’t want to cook at all! One of the side items you can choose from is Okinawa Purple Sweet Potato Gratin. The blend of large purple sweet potatoes with butter, cheese and spices is sure to bring you and your loved ones some added comfort this year. The blending of cultures is a part of Momo’s childhood memories, and something you may want to try, too.

Foreign foods also played a big role in the childhood of Rocky Hill Inn owner and chef, Evan Blomgren. Oyster Dressing (in America, we often call it stuffing) stems from his mother’s British tradition of cooking with oysters.

“She’s Norwegian, Native American and has English origins,” notes Blomgren. “The stuffing is more British. I grew up eating that (Oyster Dressing) with Thanksgiving. And then at Christmas, we’d continue the tradition with more oyster dressing and my mom would make oyster soup on Christmas day.”

Blomgren, who developed his own cooking skills over the past 25 years, recalls enjoying the dressing with some traditional Thanksgiving foods, and some non-traditional ones.

“The stuffing is good inside of goose, so sometimes we’d make goose instead of turkey. It goes well with the gaminess of the goose,” he adds.

An only child, Blomgren recalls he enjoyed Thanksgiving with cousins when he was younger, then his family moved around a lot, so many years were just him and his parents. These days, he’s often surrounded by many cooking at the Rocky Hill Inn.

Blomgren purchased the site in 2008 and crafted it into a reputable gastropub serving craft beer and burgers in addition to modern versions of pub favorites. For the Thanksgiving season, The Rocky Hill Inn has prepared a new version of its famous turkey burger – a turkey burger with pancetta, granny smith apple stuffing and cranberry mayo on a waffle bun. If your family has British roots, perhaps you want to change up your stuffing this year and try the Oyster Dressing. Or you can warm the cockles of your soul with some good old comfort food and try out this burger!

A relatively newer restaurant to the Princeton scene is The Meeting House, which aims to use seasonal ingredients in its simple American cuisine. Chef Eswin Belteton, who is known to his co-workers as Chef Fito, grew up in Guatemala. Through his training, another chef taught him how to make Pork Chop and Bean Cassoulet, a French Country dish which instantly reminded him of a favorite from back home.

“I said to my chef that it reminded me of a dish that my grandma and mother used to cook called Caldo de Frijoles Blancos con Puerco,” Fito reminisces. “I would help them cut the vegetables while they were cooking the beans and pork and I would smell the incredible aromas.”

The dish is made with cannellini beans, a common Central American staple.

“It’s amazing how this dish became a great memory of my childhood,” says Fito. “To this day every time I cook this dish I think of those incredible days in the kitchen with my grandma and mother.”

While The Meeting House focuses on American cuisine, it also gets crafty with cocktails that change with the seasons. Those are served alongside locally brewed beers and an assortment of wines. In keeping up its changing seasonal menu for this Thanksgiving season, Fall Squash Soup has been added. Chef Fito offered up this recipe as well as the Pork Chop and Bean Cassoulet for our readers, so you could try one or both with your holiday meal.

Everyone has different ways of coping and getting through this difficult year. But one thing we all have in common is food – and the way it can comfort us and help us connect. We hope through enjoying their family and restaurant favorites, the chefs and owners can help you find enjoyment this holiday season and beyond.

Gobble, Gobble, Turkeys are Here

We live in the Garden State, which immediately brings to mind farming. But, did you realize that beyond the fruits and vegetables grown fresh around New Jersey, turkey farming is also here? Turkeys are raised and cultivated at four turkey farms in our area, bringing you fresh local meat you can enjoy for Thanksgiving and year-round.

The oldest, Lee Turkey Farm in East Windsor, raises 3,000 turkeys a year, selling them directly to consumers. While the family has been on the farm since 1868, turkeys are something they kind of fell into in the mid 1900s.

“Turkeys were started by my father when he was 11, it started as a 4-H project,” explains Ronny Lee, who owns and runs the farm today with his wife, Janet. “He wanted to be part of 4-H and the only area that had an opening was the turkey club, so all by default he got turkeys!”

The farm started raising more and more turkeys through his father’s high school years, home to a few hundred by the time he was called to serve in WWII.

“When he came back, my grandfather was tired, warn out and in debt. The Depression came and he wanted to sell the farm. Instead, my dad suggested they start raising turkeys by the 1000s, and the turkeys brought the farm out of the dire straits they were in.”

Today, Lee Turkey Farm also has a robust fruit and vegetable crop including 700 apple and peach trees. As Thanksgiving arrives, Lee says he’s definitely seeing a preference for smaller birds, likely due to smaller-sized gatherings this year. The farm started planning their Thanksgiving crop months ago. It takes approximately 11 weeks for a turkey to become a cleaned, read-to-eat 13-pound meal. While their orders for Thanksgiving turkeys began over a month ago, he notes they have never sent anyone home without a turkey – something he learned from his mother!

“Years ago, we were getting ready to have our turkey dinner. I was in high school at the time, all the relatives were over, and a young couple came to the door upset,” recalls Lee. “They had bought a turkey from someplace else and when they opened it up, it didn’t smell right. That’s all I remember hearing but when it came time to eat, we had macaroni that day! My mom gave them the turkey right out of our oven.”

Common traits of the fresh, local farm turkeys in Mercer County mean the birds receive no antibiotics, no hormones and are nourished by a combination of foraging and locally-sourced feed. They are also free range, meaning they are out in pasture, in open-faced barns or live between both. The pasture can be a great experience for the turkeys, as well as those living on the farm.

Courtesy: The Chick Hatchery

“At times turkeys escape – they’re fast,” says Kristin DiPaola, who helps run the DiPaola Turkey Farm which her grandfather started in 1948. “I have 4 children, and every now and then when they’re out on the range a turkey will scoot through the fence, and it’s exciting. The kids chase them down!”

Her family’s farm in Hamilton employs a tradition of USDA quality meats as it breeds white domesticated Broad Breasted turkeys, which is one of the turkey breeds farmed in our area. They are sold at their farm store and at markets around New York City.

“Some people grow heritage turkeys, ours are white. The breast is larger and therefore juicier,” adds DiPaola.

The white traditional turkey can also be found at Griggstown Farm, which raises and processes turkeys only for Thanksgiving. In addition, they offer the Bourbon Red Heritage breed, the closest breed to what Pilgrims ate which has a darker meat with broader legs and thighs. To get a 7 to 10-pound Hen or 14 to 18-pound Tom, the process begins in April.

Courtesy: eFowl

“It’s all weather based and everything. If it’s hot out, they don’t eat, if it’s cold out they eat. So that’s where the science gets a little tricky,” clarifies Griggstown Farm General Manager George Rude, Jr. “A couple days before Thanksgiving, I can’t go out there and tell the turkey to stop eating, so I tell people there’s a 5-pound range. I think we’ve got it down to a science. Hopefully it’ll work out like it has every year.”

His father, George Rude, Sr., started by raising some quail in the historic village of Griggstown in Princeton in 1975. Today, they have more than 65 acres that are home to pheasants, quail, chickens and for Thanksgiving, turkeys. The farm processes about 500 Bourbon Reds and 2,500-3,000 white turkeys each season, and certain sizes are selling out at their farm store as well as at farm markets in Philadelphia, Bernardsville and Flemington.

“We have some bigger ones left, a decent amount of 18 to 22-pounders, but the 14 to 17-pounds are almost gone. We also have boneless turkey breast, capon and pheasants. But we’ve sold out of geese and ducks,” notes Rude, Jr.

Courtesy: communitychickens.com

If you like heritage turkeys, two other varieties are sold at Hopewell’s Brick Farm Market from their Double Brook Farm. Owners Robin and Jon McConaughy found the process of developing their Spanish Black and Bronze heritage turkeys this year to be a bit therapeutic in these complicated times. From collecting and incubating eggs to watching them hatch and grow, they’ve enjoyed being a part of cultivating food people will enjoy with loved ones.

“The interesting things about our birds is they all exhibit natural behaviors – they fly, roost in the trees, sometimes inside an enclosure which is about 10 acres, sometimes they’re outside the enclosure,” details Robin. “They exhibit natural tendencies, scratching of the ground, finding some food. They are fed a non-GMO grain mixture grown for us by local farmers, so a combination of being a heritage breed and also being the way we raise them in fresh air, out on pasture, eating bugs naturally (a portion of their diet) it creates a bird that is a healthier bird and they’re slightly leaner and really hard to dry out. Extremely juicy and tender.”

The farm the McConaughy’s started in 2004 also raises pigs, ducks, chicken and sheep on acreage around the township. They also grow vegetables and use their crops and meat for foods sold at Brick Farm Tavern and Brick Farm Market. This year, the turkeys are selling fast. So, if you haven’t decided yet, now is the time to consider a locally farmed turkey.

“Sometimes we do have turkeys available for walk up, this year is going to be  –  well, we’ve already outpaced our numbers for last year, so not likely a good risk. We get calls on Thanksgiving every year – ‘My wife is going to divorce me! I was supposed to order the turkey can you save me?’ We always have something we can do to help them, but I don’t know about this year,” Robin shares.

Of course, you can purchase a supermarket turkey (or get your free one from Shoprite!). But Ronny Lee boasts there is nothing like a freshly farmed turkey.

“We all like McDonalds, but when you eat filet mignon, you know there’s a difference. There’s definitely a difference in the quality of our meat and the flavor.”

If you are interested in a local farm turkey, you’re advised to plan for 1-pound per person. Here is how you can order:

Lee Turkey Farm: Reservations can be made by calling (609) 448-0629.

DiPaola Turkey Farm: Email dipaolaturkey@gmail.com with pick-up location, date, and size range.

Griggstown Farm: Click to go to their website to pre-order for curbside pick-up.

Double Brook Farm: Click to order online at Brick Farm Market by November 20th.