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Foraging for ramps (split from Ontario board)

[NOTE: this discussion was split from the following thread on the Ontario board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780961

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Might be a good idea to lay off 'em.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/779820

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  1. Yes. It's getting out of control, and quite frankly disrespectful to those who own land and find others "foraging" on it. Particularly when those "foragers" have no concept on how to harvest sustainably.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

      every time I see the word "forage" now on a menu I think "stolen", haha.

    2. I do save the root ends and replant them. Last year was the first year that I did this and there may be some coming up, possibly, but still very small. From what I read you shouldn't harvest any the first year.
      I will be buying some again this year and also planting those root ends. Hopefully by next year I will be self sustaining when it comes to ramps!

      6 Replies
      1. re: cheesymama

        What's certain is there sure won't be many or any more where those came from. That's the problem.

        1. re: cheesymama

          I was wondering about propagation. How else do they reproduce? Do they also go to seed if left alone? Thanks for any info.

          1. re: Handful

            I have never attempted to grow ramps before. What I read last spring was that you could plant the root ends in (preferably) wooded area. You should not harvest any the first year, and harvest lightly the second year.
            I'm assuming that they are self seeding and that is why it is recommended that foragers take at most half of what is growing in a patch.
            I would love to hear from anyone who has first hand experience growing ramps. I would like to continue planting the root ends, but maybe in little used public spaces or out of the way corners.

              1. re: cheesymama

                I started a few small patches of ramps in my woods about 3 years ago. In each spot I planted maybe about 6 or 8 ramps. They all but died the first year (as the weather warms up the plant dies down so you can't tell if it's alive or not). The second spring they returned and this year they've returned again. The patches are spreading slightly - I suspect more by underground runners rather than seed - but they're nowhere near being something I would harvest. The environment is pretty much exactly the same as where they originally came from but I think ramps take A LONG time to really catch. I'm thinking my grandchildren may be able to harvest a few. In the meantime I'm digging ramps from the area where they're plentiful and I only dig about 3 or 4 in any one little spot, taking care not to damage the neighbours, and covering the spots with leaves to make sure the forest is left looking untouched. A less delicate ramp-forager could easily come away with sacks full of the things and leave the woods a mess. I don't think anyone else picks where I do, so that's a good thing.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Thanks Nyleve. I have researched some places to buy seed and/ or bulbs but they are out until next year. I think that perhaps I will attempt to do what you have as well as purchase some seeds. It's a long walk to my woods!

          2. Thanks for posting this perspective. Even on private land landowners need to harvest sustainably. Or not at all. And the ramps are not the only plants to be effected. Other woodland plants that grow in the same environment may be trampled or damaged in the process. Some of these plants require years of growth before being able to produce flowers and seed. So if you are consuming these plants because you feel that it is important to eat organically and know where your food comes from then please ask the tough questions wherever you buy them. Ask where they came from and how they were harvested. And walk away if necessary.

            4 Replies
            1. re: dory

              Frankly, I'd say the best thing, if you're really concerned, is to pass on ramps. Talk is cheap and any seller can tell you whatever you want to hear. Like there's more than one place these things come from? The downside to "foraged" ramps is just too big.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                My feeling is that the term "foraging" provides a green shield. We all know which restaurants in Toronto are most guilty of "foraging". It gives an air of authenticity to the restaurant, that they're really connected to their food source.

                People must think, there's no way a lone forager can rape the land to a barren state. A forager equates to catchphrases like green, sustainability, artisanal..........

                It equates to low food cost to restaurateurs, with an added marketing angle.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  Exactly. Call it the NOMA effect or whatever, but people need to understand that wild "foraged" plants need to be treated with more care and concern than mass grown supermarket vegetables.

                  Cooks that think they're superstars by using novel ingredients thereby destroying wild native plants in the process need a wake up call.

                  1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                    If the bulk of foraging is left to people foraging for themselves/families, this wouldn't be a problem. Inherently, our appetite threshold limits how much we want to forage for ourselves.

                    The bulk of the pillaging is done by restaurateurs and resellers since their customers have a far more demanding appetite than a family of 4.

              2. Stopped reading at "rape the land." What may have been an insightful article turned into tree-hugging blah blah propaganda at that point. Yawn.

                1. I the point here really is that foraged foods shouldn't be ending up in restaraunts. We figured this out long ago with wild game. If people could hunt commercially there would be no wild game left.

                  1. In Idaho, when this happens, we shoot 'em. Really.

                    OK, *most* of the time we shoot over their heads and call it poor aim. Most of the time.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: brentleatherman

                      LOL brentleatherman. We call it that in Ohio too. Tresspassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.

                      1. re: Handful

                        btw, where in Ohio? I'm working just north of Dayton these days and we're like totally flooded out...no body is getting into their fields/farms these days. Ugh...

                        1. re: brentleatherman

                          Oh wow! I am from Ada just east of Lima. VERY wet indeed. The animals were lining up two by two in the yard the other day!!

                    2. Totally agree - ramps, ginseng, morels- grew up where these were harvested for our family's use & have lived where we harvested boletes & matsutakes for our own use. Have seen "the entitled greenies" blithely slither through barbed wire fences, defecate behind bushes, leave trash & used toiletries on private property & absolutely decimate ramps, gingseng & mushroom stands on bi=oth private & federal lands. Greenly. Don't be sucked in by the greenie "foraged" hype - the volume needed to supply restaurants wipes out natural stands on both private & public property; & contributes to theft.