From the Editor: Spring 2022
Welcome to the Spring issue of Princeton Magazine where you will discover a range of articles exploring how we can protect, enjoy, and learn from Mother Earth.
The cover illustration created by our Art Director, Jeffrey Tryon, blends a painterly image of Earth with a portrait of Pearl S. Buck, author of The Good Earth. Donald Sanborn’s article about Buck explains how her time in China inspired her to write the book in 1931, which is known for its epic descriptions of peasant farm life in China. The “nourishing power of the land” is the book’s central theme, and that still resonates strongly today.
In addition to being a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author, Buck was an advocate for women’s rights, minority groups, and mixed-race adoptions. Today, her home in Bucks County is a museum and the location of her active and impactful foundation.
The original intention of an Earth issue has taken on new meaning as countries around the globe unite in support of Ukraine. There is an age-old Russian military deception tactic known as “maskirovka,” or little masquerade. It is clear that the world won’t allow Vladimir Putin to hide behind a veil of maskirovka as he demonstrates blatant disregard for human life and world order.
According to the New York Times, “a crucial portion of the world’s wheat, corn, and barley is trapped in Russia and Ukraine, and an even larger portion of the world’s fertilizer is stuck in Russia and Belarus; threatening the size of the next harvests.” The International Energy Agency announced “a global energy crisis is looming” and has asked countries and citizens to conserve fuel.
Putin has been empowered by the world’s dependency on fossil fuels and his invasion of Ukraine is a lesson in hubris. Ironically, the war he instigated has prompted Germany and other countries to speed-up wind and solar renewable energy projects, so they can lessen their reliance on Russian gas.
Reducing our use of fossil fuels will empower us and eases the effects of global warming. What can we do as individuals to help? Buildings are responsible for about 40 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the air. Don Gilpin’s article about net-zero explains how homeowners, builders, designers, and architects can take meaningful steps towards reducing carbon emissions with zero-energy homes.
On a personal note, I am in the midst of building a home and proud of doing my small part to reduce carbon emissions by choosing a tankless water heater, electric heat pump, electric range, LED light bulbs, and installing a 240-volt receptacle in the garage to recharge my future electric car.
Gas vehicles account for about 29 percent of greenhouse emissions and manufactures are ramping up the design and production of electric cars. With millions of electric cars set to hit the road, scientists are seeking better ways to recycle lithium-ion batteries.
Will Uhl spoke to Dr. Chao Yan at Princeton NuEnergy who, along with his colleagues, has developed environmentally sustainable technology to recycle lithium-ion batteries. They have patents pending through Princeton University’s Accelerator Fund which advances technologies from labs into commercial development, then into the global marketplace.
You might be surprised to learn that 4-H has been proactive in introducing children to innovative technologies. Wendy Greenberg’s article reveals that today’s 4-H has broadened its mission from the farm to the science lab. Robotics, marine science, climate change, sustainable energy, and STEM classes are just a sample of the exciting topics 4-H members explore. The connection to farm animals is still an important part of the club and the popular 4-H Fair will be held locally at Howell Living History Farm on July 30.
Speaking of farms, Ilene Dube has written an article about Princeton Theological Seminary’s farm located on Princeton Pike. It’s called the Farminary, and it integrates theological education with sustainable agriculture. The Farminary teaches prospective theologians about the meaning of life while tending to vegetable fields, chickens, goats, and honey bees. The Farminary has proven to be a welcome respite for the students during the ongoing pandemic.
If you aren’t inclined to grow your own vegetables, you can purchase CSA shares from a number of local farms including Honey Brook Organic Farm, Cherry Grove Organic Farm, and Cherry Valley Farm. Terhune Orchards offers a variety of pick-your-own seasonal produce and you can also shop at their well-stocked farm store.
Spring is mushroom foraging season in New Jersey and Anne Levin’s article explains the process and growing appeal of learning how to spot edible fungi during a mushroom treasure hunt. Here is an important safety tip — never pick a wild mushroom with gills! Mushroom foraging has become popular in recent years as a way to enjoy nature, but it’s also a fun activity that can result in healthy and delicious meals.
If you are in need of recipes for your freshly-picked chanterelles, check out Stuart Mitchner’s Book Scene for a selection of vegetarian cookbooks. Stuart and his wife are avid foodies, so you can trust these cookbook recommendations. Wine enthusiasts will enjoy Laurie Pellichero’s article on local vineyards where you can pick up a bottle to pair with your meal. Or you might prefer to visit a vineyard as a relaxing spring outing, where you can experience the nourishing power of the land.
Bob Hillier and I would like to personally wish you all good health and a happy spring. We hope you enjoy reading the Earth issue of Princeton Magazine as much as we enjoyed creating it.
Lynn Adams Smith