Ramp season is ramping up here in Western North Carolina! If you aren't familiar, ramps (Allium tricoccum) are a North American species of wild onion! They are rare and delicious!
The ramps that we use in our products are all sustainably wildcrafted in the beautiful WNC mountains! Pssss...did you know that ramps are actually a wild leek?
How do we sustainably wildcraft these delicious spring ephemerals? Well, we start by rotating our patches. If we harvest from a patch this year, we won't harvest from that patch again for 2 years. The next thing we look at is the population size of the ramp patch we are harvesting. Our average harvest is only about 10% of the population. As for the individual plants...we only harvest the leaves! Specifically, one leaf per plant. The bulbs are left in the ground to continue their life cycle. We also take note of the size of each plant. If it is large, there is a chance that it might flower and seed. As it takes about 7 years for ramps to reproduce, leaving the larger plants gives the population a better chance of expanding.
We will also be starting a new harvesting method this year (see video for more detail). When the seeds drop in the late summer they will fall in the same spot as the mother plant. Thinning the ramp patch by removing the whole plant from spaces that are densely populated will allow the remaining plants to have better access to the available resources. You can even replant the roots with a portion of the bulb still attached in your own yard and start your own ramp patch! Research has shown that ramps are found in souls high in calcium. If you replant the bulbs, consider amending your soil to add more calcium.
If you forage for ramps, please do so ethically and sustainably. It is important to remember that our forest ecosystems are not separate from us. We are intertwined.
Pretty soon, we will be releasing our annual favorite Wild Ramp Sea Salt! Keep your eyes peeled!