Digging and eating ramps in the spring is a traditional activity throughout Appalachia, especially in Monongahela National Forest’s gateway communities. While collecting ramps for personal use is permitted on the forest within established limits, commercial harvesting of ramps in the forest, including re-selling ramps collected for personal use, is prohibited. Personal use is defined as two gallons per person in possession at any one time, about the amount that fits in a typical plastic grocery bag. This equals about 180 whole plants, including roots and leaves. Individuals may not collect ramps on behalf of someone else.
People who are taking advantage of these early spring-like conditions and already collecting ramps in the forest are encouraged to follow these guidelines to ensure abundant ramps in the future:
- Collect ramps only in patches with more than 100 plants.
- If a person finds a patch that has already been harvested, move on to another area.
- When collecting ramps from a large clump, take only one-fifth of the plants. Leaving behind most of the plants will allow them to mature and go to seed, and the patch will recover faster.
- If digging bulbs, use a soil fork or a small hand trowel and a knife rather than a large shovel. Shovels disturb the root system of neighboring ramps and other plants much more than these smaller tools. To dig ramps, loosen the soil with the soil fork or hand trowel and use the knife to cut the ramp roots beneath the bulb.
- After digging a ramp, cover the bare soil with leaves. This will reduce the likelihood of invasive species taking root.
By following these guidelines for harvesting ramps, it will ensure that one’s children and grandchildren can enjoy ramps for generations to come. A person can learn how to grow ramps on one’s property at https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/compass/2017/04/12/grow-your-own-ramps-2/.
For more information about the ecology of ramps in Monongahela National Forest contact Amy Lovell, education specialist, at email@example.com or (304) 413-6675.
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