Ramps are one of the most beloved foods of Western North Carolina and the wider Appalachian region, inspiring chefs, captivating adventurous home cooks, and marking a rite of Spring for people who grew up foraging ramps in the mountainous landscape they and their ancestors called home. With the growing exposure and popularity of ramps, many people are finding reason to harvest wild populations during the short window of time, usually in April, that their greens and bulb are available. Since ramps are a slow growing perennial, many people don’t realize that the meaty bulb gracing their plates might be a decade old. Female ramps don’t produce a flower stalk until they’ve reached seven years of maturity. Because they are slow reproducers and only grow in a very specific habitat, ramp populations have been dwindling.
Happily, however, there is a way to sustainably harvest ramps! Please watch and share this video we’ve produced explaining how to do so. Advocating as consumers, by asking for and purchasing only sustainably harvested ramps, will also help build a demand for responsible foraging practices.
How to Harvest:
When buying ramps, look for:
Thank you for sharing this video far and wide and helping educate ramp lovers of all kinds about sustainable practices!
Bill Best is director of the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, Kentucky. Best saves seeds grown and cherished by Appalachian families, helping to preserve mountain culture and biodiversity. He
The Appalachian Food Storybank seeks to acknowledge, honor, and archive Appalachian heritage food stories in order to preserve diverse local traditions, natural resources, heirloom varieties and breeds.