April 18th, 2012
Hi there folks,
Every once and a while, if you are paying attention, Nature gives us a gift. I believe it is a sign of good faith; a sign that she still intends to take care of us, so long as we respect her processes and that we in turn take care of her and all of her species.
This week we have been lucky enough to receive the gift of
, commonly known as Wild Leeks, or Ramps. These little gems are members of the
, or Onion Family. They are considered a native wildflower of Ontario, and grow naturally here on undisturbed deciduous forest floors. The ramps you have in your box this week, have come from a Sugar Maple bush, at Foggy River Farm in Uxbridge, Ontario. These leeks were ethically foraged bright and early on Tuesday, in the early morning dew. I truly hope you enjoy them.
What is ethical foraging? Since these plants are found in a natural ecosystem it is vital to understand how they operate, both as individual species and as a part of the greater ecosphere. It is only when you truly understand the plant that you should undertake foraging the leaves and bulbs for your own use or for market.
Ramps are one of the first plants to come up in the early spring frost, many times poking their little heads up through the last of the melting snow. The leaves will protrude from the developing bulb, sometimes up to 3 years after the seed from it’s parent plant has germinated and established itself, another important fact to keep in mind when foraging. Once the leaves have reached their climax, of approximately 20 cm in length they will completely die back and allow the flower stalk to grow up from the bulb. The leaves will begin to decompose immediately and will act as a mulch for the flowering plant, providing the flower with nutrients to grow big and strong. Once the flower turns to seed the leaf mulch will act as shelter for the fallen seeds, providing them with more nutrients, shade and moisture, all of which are vital, for these little seeds to germinate, and hopefully, one day, turn into adult plants.
When foraging ramps it is important to only select the smaller plants, and to only take and average of 1 in every 5 plants. This allows the larger stronger plants to reproduce and regenerate the population. Otherwise this truly tasty gift that we have been given will be taken away, and will not return for many, many years, if ever at all.
Keep Growing Closer,
Co-Founder, Fresh City Farms