Photos and story by Katie Hayes, Executive Director of Community Farmers Markets
Ramps are one of the true wild delicacies of spring. Also known as wild leeks – ramps have a unique flavor profile reminiscent of garlic and green onions. One of my favorite events of the year is to hike to our secret spot in North Georgia, and spend a day collecting these tasty morsels from a field of fragrant greens. In Georgia, this typically happens in early to mid April. We spent last weekend with the crew from Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet foraging for ramps for the Spring Tonic dinner.
Our secret spot is deep up in the mountains, in a place we would be unlikely to ever visit if it wasn’t for these gems. The roads are unpaved and almost undrivable, steep with a mountain falling off to the side. The hike to get the ramps is equally challenging and steep. Only people truly crazy for ramps – or just crazy – would come here. We make it an annual tradition.
I get nervous each time as we drive through the mountains and see no green – nothing but fallen leaves. As we hike deeper into nature, green starts popping up around us and millions of ramps appear around trickling springs. Ramps are one of the first tonics of spring in the wild – spring tonics are the first wild plants to grow each spring and are nutritious edibles traditionally gathered to rejuvenate the body after a winter diet of heavy and stored foods.
If you choose to forage for ramps, make sure to go with someone who can properly identify them – as there is another similar looking plant which is poisonous. And be sure to only harvest a small portion of them so they can regenerate from year to year.
With all farming and foraging, it’s important to take breaks – we relax by cooling off the in cold spring water or enjoying the moss.
After harvesting, we hiked back to enjoy a hearty campfire meal of local bacon, eggs, and ramps of course! Even though we were all exhausted and filthy, one bite reminded us all why we do this.
Ramps are enjoyed best simply sauteed with butter and salt, but there are other delicious recipes online and one in our CFM cookbook – being released next week (stay tuned)! You can find ramps this week at Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlets booth at the East Atlanta and Grant Park Farmers Markets this week or cooked in various ways the at the Spring Tonic dinner this Sunday.