Saturday, May 10, 2014

Sustainable Saturday - Digging Ramps - or Not

Today, I got an unintended education.

My spouse and I visited the farmers market in Ithaca, New York, home of Ithaca College and Cornell University.

Unlike our farmer's market, in Binghamton (an hour away) which just started its outdoor season last Saturday, the Ithaca market at Steamboat Landing has been outdoors for a good month.  It's much larger than our market, too.

Ithaca has a population of about 30,000, but the three colleges there provide a lot of demand for high quality, organic produce.  It also helps that the Finger Lakes help moderate the climate, and the growing season in the Ithaca area begins sooner than ours does.
There was the usual lettuce, beautiful in various colors.
And there were a couple of surprises.  The first, fiddleheads, we passed up - I've had them and I'm not too fond of them.

The other surprise was ramps (or wild leeks). Ramps grow wild here in upstate New York, although I don't personally know any place to pick them.  I've tasted food cooked with them, but my spouse (the family cook) has never cooked them. We know a little goes a long way, and are wondering if we can grow these in a shady part of our yard if we plant a couple of the plants we bought today.  We may not want to cook these all.

However, in researching some recipes, I discovered a sobering fact.  It seems that the increasing appetite for ramps may be taking a toll on the wild plants.  In fact, their sale is banned in some places, although, at the present time, it seems New York State has no rules restricting their harvest.

If I had known there might be a problem, I would have asked more questions before buying these.  It could be that these were grown, and not harvested from the wild, or harvested in a sustainable manner.

It's too late to un-buy them, so I will eat them - and I might try to plant a couple of them in a shady part of my yard.

Do you know anything about ramps?


  1. I've never had fiddle head. haven't yet been to our farmers market. I clean out our wood stove and add ash to our garden.

    Coffee is on

  2. Our temperatures are still in the minus in the mornings but I have been able to put out my bedding plants on the day towards noon. Got some leeks started. They still look like threads. :-) Our farmers market started outdoors last week but haven't made it there yet.

  3. Your 'ramps' look like our 'wild garlic', which is flowering at the moment in white swathes across the front garden. I transplanted some from underneath the strip of trees opposite. It's highly invasive. It probably likes its new semi-shaded position. Yesterday, I dug out a run of tiny ones, each with a miniature bulb.

  4. A lovely collection of vegetables!
    I love farmers markets, we have some locally but haven't been for a little while.


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