Grit Blogs > From the Ethnobotanist

Ramps Action Alert: The Sustainable Stand

By Lawrence Davis-Hollander 


Tags: ramps, wild leeks, foraging, wild food, , Lawrence Davis-Hollander,

Action Alert  

Ramps or wild leeks, native of  rich woodlands in the eastern US are becoming vulnerable  to over harvesting, especially due to increased demand by the culinary trade.  In 2011 it is estimated at least 2 million plants will be harvested. 

You may see them offered for sale in specialty food stores, health food stores, farm stores, farmer’s markets, on the internet and on restaurant menus. Recommendations are not to purchase whole plants and bulbs.

 In recent years: 

Large Increase in media attention has brought unprecedented demand upon this plant especially in the culinary industry

Increase in  commercial and individual harvesting activities

Increase in commercial and retail sales

 

 Negative Results: 

Habitat disturbance

Increase vulnerability to invasive plants

Over harvesting

In some cases whole clumps wiped out

Reduced sustainability of the plant

Reduced ability of the plant to reproduce; long recovery time after harvesting

Increased susceptibility because of other conditions such as climate change and overgrazing

 

 Recommendations: 

 Consumers 

Harvest leaves only

Harvest not more than 20% of leaves from any single clump

Do not purchase whole plants from markets

Do not order dishes containing ramp bulbs

Encourage your restaurant or store to sell leaves only

Speak up

  

 Chefs and food purveyors 

Cease buying whole plants and bulbs

Cease serving and selling whole plants and bulbs.

Use sustainably harvested leaves only

 

 Harvesters 

Cease all commercial harvesting of whole plants

Harvest leaves only, not more than 20% in any year

Keep track of where you have harvested and when

 

kelly nichols
4/8/2011 7:31:50 PM

So sad that people have to over-do everything! We have ramps that haven't been touched in 50 years (if that!). Supply and demand is not always a good thing!