Earth Day + Ramps

Happy Earth Day! It’s a pretty sweet spot we’ve got here on this planet - I hope you got out today and took a good look around! I feel like it’s a good day to say a few words about something that gnaws at me every spring but I usually don’t say much about - hoping that leading by example is enough - but I’m starting to see, it’s not. •RAMPS• They need our attention. We are loving them to death. I do not like to be a fear monger or an alarmist - and I believe wholeheartedly that the more you use something, the more you know it and love it and protect it - but like any healthy relationship - with use comes the need for replenishment. We’ve taken too much here - too quickly - it’s time to pump the breaks. Ramps are easy to get excited about - they are over the moon delicious, and when you find a patch they can appear to go on forever - but they don’t. Ramps are relatively uncommon here in New England, and rather slow growing. Studies of monitored populations have shown that even a seemingly conservative harvest of 10% can only be sustainable if it happens every 10 years. We’ve gone way past that for many, many years- and it’s showing. I believe (and others that I respect agree) that the ONLY way to continue harvesting Ramps in a sustainable way is to only take ONE LEAF from each plant you collect from in the spring. There is just as much flavor in the leaves as the bulbs and the plant can continue growing without one leaf, whereas taking a bulb is lethal harvest. If you want a few bulbs, take them late season when the seeds are mature enough to plant - and plant them. Better yet - try growing some from responsible nursery stock on your land and let the wild populations rest for a bit. To give them the rest they need, it will take a concerted effort of foragers, chefs, grocers, and consumers to stop digging and purchasing the bulbs. I know the need for pungency in springtime is strong - but maybe try some Garlic Mustard instead - that can certainly stand a little of our use and abuse - Ramps cannot.

Jenna Darcy-Rozelle