Went to am amazing open group conversation on Ramps Monday (5/1) !!! It was graciously hosted by Hotel VT and SlowfoodVT There was a passionate mix of Wild-crafters, Chefs, Cooks & Organizers discussing the importance of Ramps and the topic of sustainability with our forest foods. As a forager & ecologically educated cook I take this topic to heart and to the wallet. I personally have been selling picked ramps from last season at the Burlington Farmers Market all winter. I sold the Greens in a pesto I spread on focaccia buns I made all last summer and sold at the Winooski farmers market. I don't have money, so buying land is not something I ever see as an economic reality. I am a renter who seeks to harvest on other people's lands. Because of this, I am not often able to be in the forest through the seasons and years to learn the specifics of the ecosystem. So I personaly Idenity as a forager. I try to do so with the utmost respect for the fragile eco-system we already tread so hard on. I grew up in NY where our driveway abutted a massive state park. I spent so much time in those woods. I learned about native plants and watched them grown and spread. I watched birds come back to nesting areas and where the best berries were hidden. Being on that land year after year allowed me to learn its rhymes. If I didn't leave enough berries for the birds to enjoy, they wouldn't return to nest the following year. How fragile the systems and networks are, in losing one thing you can risk losing it all. A Wild-crafter knows the many networks of the forest. They see how the systems interact and help to mitigate a balance for a healthy thriving forest. Just as a farmer farms his soil. A Wildcrafter crafts the wild and shares the abundance. With so many systems, each forest is different and to truly be stewards of the land, we must know and listen to it, not take and tell it what to do. This practice is older than TIME ITSELF. Before civilization emerged, we knew how to do this. This is the language older than words. But we have lost this language as a culture. Other languages like English, Industry, and Capitalism have taken their place. The systems we watch are Market and Democratic, our networks are based off wealth ties, Followers & email lists. Now we are complex creatures, but this shit is a mess. Knowing that a Ramp is edible, and where to find it... doesn't mean you are a wildcrafter. You are a forager at best. A forager is historically someone who lives off the land, "frowned upon by society". Now I am a borderline millennial raised in Suburbia. So the first time I understood "the forest", it was in the Disney cartoon, Robin Hood. So when I come hiking across a FEILD of ramps I kinda bug out at the excess & think "take from the rich and give to the poor" na. More like exploitation of the forest that I just happen to be walking through. Just because you are convinced your spot is secret does not mean you are harvesting sustainably. Knowing that the Wild Turkey and the Ramp are tied into the same system and that the VT fish n game has seen a rise in the Turkey population with correlates the ideal conditions for Ramps is what gives you the street cred in my mind to harvest excess within a 20% per patch per year ((this is info I gleaned from the meeting & haven't researched independently yet)) Which is why I was really excited that Nova Kim & Les Hook were at the meeting today. They spoke passionately about the forest systems and the important distinction between a wild-crafter & forager. They have a site http://www.wildfoodgatherersguild.org/ but I suggest you reach out and take a class from them if you would like to learn the language of the forest. Their course is CREDITED through Green Mt College & Vermont Tech, which is an internationally big deal. While I still Identify as a forager it is my goal in life to seek the knowledge to one day identify as a Wildcrafter. I am excited that there are still good stewards around, I will continue to support the sustainable harvest of wild foods and seek out the knowledge of wildcrafters within my ecosystem.