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Ramps have arrived at Dupont :blink:;):P

Ground-breaking news! Eli Cook told me it would not be for another week or two. (WFMI was clueless.) Was your supply from Spring Valley Farm, i.e. Eli's place? I am assuming so since his guy, Michael, is the one who does the foraging and I've never seen any of the other farms selling ramps.

$5 a bunch, less for multiple bundles? Details!!!

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Ground-breaking news! Eli Cook told me it would not be for another week or two. (WFMI was clueless.) Was your supply from Spring Valley Farm, i.e. Eli's place? I am assuming so since his guy, Michael, is the one who does the foraging and I've never seen any of the other farms selling ramps.

$5 a bunch, less for multiple bundles? Details!!!

Gee, early in the morning, when I was there, ramps were $6 a bunch, two for $10. There are obviously some advantages to going later. I was pleased to find green garlic at Heinz's stand. He told me that his first planting of favas are 4" tall, and his second planting have broken ground. He is not worried about frost tonight hurting anything he has planted, but another farmer I spoke with is quite concerned.

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Thanks for all the information, Zora! The ramps must have been $5 last year. Cost is due to the fact that they're foraged in the woods, shortness of the season, unique source at the Dupont Circle market, and until WFMI sold them last year, I had never seen them in supermarkets before. These issues were probably discussed in pre-existing thread. Note date in mid-April 2006; thus surprise expressed with Hillvalley's report.

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Ramps should be available for about a month. While the cold weather endangers the fruit trees in our area, it is actually good for the ramps since it keeps them small and less pungent. At the very end of their time with us, they get really large and the leaves are not as tender. Folks in West Virginia like to use the last of the ramps in making mustard.

* * *

Paula Wolfert has lots of recipes for green garlic shoots in her book on Mediterranean grains and greens.

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You will be amused to know that the New Mex Ave Balducci's has ramps for $14.99/pound. Fifteen bucks for something that looks (and tastes, at least to me) like something growing by the side of the road. :blink:
You may think the emperor has no clothes, Heather, but I think he looks pretty good naked! ;)

Actually, I've seen little old ladies pick rucola along the autostrada. Ramps, though, come from deep within wooded areas, like costly morels, though blanketing slopes. I just paid $26.56 a pound for mint which anyone can cultivate.* The herb's season is longer and you can't even eat the stems.

It is funny how lowly foods gain prestige and increase in price. Take salt cod for instance.

*There have been reports of successful cultivation of ramps, but I don't know if anyone has been able to prolong the growing season.

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Spring Valley was selling ramps at $4 a bunch or three for $10. A sign said that it would be the last week. But New Morning Farm confirmed they will have ramps next week!

New Morning's ramps were $3 a bunch, and had plump cleaned bulbs and fresh-looking greens. My guess is that they were picked yesterday.

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I bought my third bunch of ramps from New Morning, today, too. Thought it kind of funny that they were wrapped in paper-coated wire "twisties" that read "Organic".

I'm sure Zora is right about timing. The ramps were too beautiful to pass up even though they were not on my list.

However, as Hillvalley also noted today, NM will have them next week again whereas Spring Valley will not. It's the difference between Pennsylvania where the weather's been much cooler and the growing season is just getting underway and West Virginia where Eli Cook makes the transition from greenhouse to field earlier. Also a factor in visual appeal.

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From MrsDrXmus' Native Plant Listserve:

Wild Ramps At Risk

Wild greens like ramps have become trendy in restaurants as part of the push for seasonal, locally grown foods. But the newfound popularity could threaten whole populations of wild plants.

Ramps are a type of wild leek (Allium tricoccum) with a pungent, garlicky taste and smell. They shoot up in early spring in woodlands in the Eastern United States. Not so very long ago they were the food of the poor, prized as a tonic after a long winter without fresh greens.

But that era is gone. "The ramp season is about to explode onto farmers market tables and restaurant menus," chirped the Gourmet Live blog earlier this month. "If you've never tried ramps ... buy a bunch and discover what the fuss is all about."

Ramps are slow-growing woodland plants, and the increased demand may be driving harvests down so low they can't rebound. "Just because it's there, doesn't mean it's sustainable," says Lawrence Davis-Hollander, a botanist and ecologist in Sheffield, Mass., who has taken on the cause of the sustainability of wild ramps.

The fear is that ramps fervor could wipe out ramps themselves, as well as other fragile forest floor plants like trillium. Davis-Hollander has urged chefs — and others gathering ramps in the wild — to stop picking the slow-growing bulbs of ramps, which take at least 10 years to grow, and use just the faster-growing leaves.

Horticulturalists and extension agents are also promoting ramp farming as a way to feed new ramp enthusiasts without threatening native plant populations. But it will take time: The seeds can take up to 18 months to germinate, and it can take five to seven years for a plant to grow large enough to harvest the root.

— Nancy Shute

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This is an issue of concern certainly, but the articles I have seen are mostly anecdotal in nature. The questions to be answered include the harm of the ecosystem and the health of the harvest levels.

If ramps are like fish, harvest can be managed easily with strict limits and then a method used to distribute the right to pick. When you harvest wild fish, the population declines from non harvest levels, but the question is, is there a rate of harvest that will bring about a stable wild population large enough to give safety to the wild population yet still have a viable commercial harvest. If yes, then the limits are set and, these days for select species, enforced. Where this happens, we have a good fishery and a good population. If the area was previously over fished, then we see populations rise to a stable level. If the population was not over fished, its development as a fishery may mean a decline in populations but to a stable level.

If there are issues with ramps, what is the cause? Is it over harvesting itself, habitat destruction or the damage to the eco system from the "hordes" of pickers/foragers. All are questions that I have not seen addressed in any scientific way. Is the problem present in all area of active harvest, or are they local. Is there a relationship between the local demand and the local supply or is demand fungible across diverse growing areas.

As someone concerned with sustainability, and as a lover of ramps, this lack of study troubles me. Even in the 4 part series linked above, there are far more quotes saying that ramp harvest remain stable or are in a slight decline than the quotes saying that there is widespread over harvesting. Just as with wild fish stocks, there may be specific practices and specific populations under more pressure than others. But a call for a moratorium on ramp harvest seems not to be founded on the evidence presented.

All in all, where there is no systematic science, and most of the quotes say there is not, then a scientist stating an opinion is just an opinion. I have talked to ramp harvesters who say that their supplies are in good shape, another opinion. I would support some real study.

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