I woke to snow yesterday, watch a few minutes of the news (plenty enough for me, thank you very much, what with GS and oil spills and other cheery stuff) and did the only sensible thing. I went collecting ramps.
Ramps are a spring ephemeral, delicate and delicious, a mild kind of wild leek. It doesn’t hurt that, around here anyway, they grow in the same spot as Trillium, a gorgeous, showy flower that carpets the ground with deep russet blooms. Gathering leeks is work. They grow on a steep, slippery slope, in icy earth and they grow deep. You must dig them up. Pulling will get you a hand full of greens and no bulb. Getting enough to provide a nice addition to a dish of fried potatoes takes some committment to wild food foraging. I returned home muddy and cold but satisfied.
Other things are spring up just now. I will harvest and dry nettles today and my fiddleheads are just poking up so I may get a small meal out them too. I think everybody who is interested in local food systems and preparedness needs to have a location specific wild food guide. In fact, you should have several as they don’t all have the same information. I would prefer to know 10 plants really well rather than a tiny bit about 100. It is also very important to know how to harvest responsibly. Some things, like nettles and dandelions are so abundant, over harvesting is impossible, but others, like ramps are delicate and be harvested out of an area. Never take all of something. Leave enough to make a new crop the following year. Watch where you walk. You don’t want to trample a nearby endangered plant in your quest for a prize. Don’t take more than you can eat.
You will never get fat on foraging. I expended way more calories in getting those ramps than I got from them, but greens can provide some necessary nutrients at just the time our bodies most need them. My pickles are gone, my fruit consumed, but nettles and ramps will fill the gap until asparagus gets bigger. My simple blessing is this: Earth abides, earth provides. I am so grateful. Thank you