Forest ThreatNet

Volume 11, Issue 2 - March/April 2017

Civil Eats: "Can We Eat Our Ramps and Have Them Too?"

Ramps in a research plotWith ramps making their annual appearances at spring festivals, farmers' markets, and restaurants, the inevitable question arises: are they at risk due to unsustainable harvesting? Skyrocketing demand for these pungent wild leeks has led Jim Chamberlain, a research forest products technologist with the Southern Research Station, to track ramp harvests destined for Southern Appalachian festivals for nearly 20 years. Since 2016, Chamberlain and Eastern Threat Center research biologist Michelle Baumflek have teamed up with the Traverse City, MI-based Institute for Sustainable Foraging to study the effects of commercial harvesting on wild ramps in Michigan. Ramps take several years to mature and reproduce, Baumflek explained to Civil Eats, a daily news source on the American food system, in an article published April 12. “If you’re holding one in your hand, the fat stem you’re holding could be seven years old," she said. Read the full Civil Eats article to learn more about the work of Chamberlain and Baumflek and others working to sustain ramp populations and the cultural traditions they inspire.

Pictured: Ramps in a research plot. Photo by Michelle Baumflek, U.S. Forest Service.

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