Published On: Mon, Mar 21st, 2011

Careful Ramp Harvesting is Traditional and Sustainable

Kevin Welch, of the Center for Cherokee Plants, demonstrates sustainable ramp harvesting the traditional Cherokee way by cutting above roots, leaving roots & the base of the ramp bulb in the ground. (Photo by Sarah McClellan-Welch/EBCI Cooperative Extension)

By SARAH MCCLELLAN-WELCH

EBCI COOPERATIVE EXTENSION

     Ramp harvesting is another one of those misunderstood issues with the outside world. While folks up and down Appalachia have been out “digging ramps” for the past 200 years, the wild population has been decimated.

     Unfortunately, they did not pay close enough attention to the traditional Cherokee harvesting method. As the original gathers of ramps for more than 12,000 years, harvest occurs in a time-evolved manner.

     Ramp harvesting the Cherokee way is a painstaking, selective harvest where individual bulbs are carefully cut from the ground. Sustainable ramp harvesting today means using a pocketknife to cut into individual ramp bulbs, above their roots. This leaves the roots and the basal plate to continue growing.

     Ramp patches grow very slowly, so less than 10 percent of a patch is harvested in one year. These methods will result in sustainable ramp patches for the future.