May 23, 2017
At Lindera Farms, our goal is to take extremely high quality ingredients and turn them into some really unique and varied vinegars. That’s a pretty basic pitch; but the underlying principal at all times is sustainability. Now for farms, those practices can range from as straightforward as following USDA Organic Certification Guidelines to Beyond-Organic practices ranging from Biodynamism, Polyfaceted farming, Non-Interventionism, Low-Chem Use, Innovative Labor Policies, etc. But, what about foraging?
We see it every year now. Your hipster friend manages to find his way out into the wilderness and posts non-stop about how he’s #foraging #ramps and enjoying the #greatoutdoors. To a degree, that’s great; anything to get someone away from Twitter and out into nature is, overall, a good thing.
Look closely at that picture. Is the bulb attached to the Ramp? Do the other plants nearby look trampled? How many plants are being cut or uprooted? How loud are they playing that obscure early Jack White song you’ve never heard before? All these contribute to whether your foraging practices are sustainable. So, just to give an idea, here’s how I approach foraging ramps for our Ramp Vinegar at Lindera Farms.
I get to cheat a bit here; Lindera Farms isn’t really a farm, per se. It’s a 225-acre nature reserve that we built in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy to restore a tributary into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The restoration project encompassed turning an old cattle farm that had destroyed the stream, and part of that meant reintroducing native, edible flora to the property, including persimmons, paw-paw, mulberries, elderflowers, ramps, and others.
The other -and more important for foraging- part was that the property, as a nature reserve, cannot be cut, sprayed, or cultivated for any purpose other than light agricultural pursuits and combating invasive species (In other words, Foraging).
This means that we cover the things YOU should be looking for when you’re out foraging:
If you’re spending a decent chunk of your day in a fluorescently lit kitchen, cubicle, or 200 square foot Flatbush apartment you’re inexplicably paying 2k per month for, it’s understandable why people go overkill at the first sighting of anything green and edible in the wild. It’s visceral, "paleo", and counter to a lot of what seems to govern our lives these days. Find your restraint and look for a few things (using, again, ramps as an example)
Perhaps the most important facet of foraging is the actual act of picking said Ramps (or whatever it is you’ve put on your best Plaid and skinny jeans for). So here goes;
There! You now are a positive contributor to local ecology when foraging Ramps, and in everything else you ever do. There are lots of pieces of advice on sustainable foraging I could give you, and far more than I even know; practices pertinent to specific plants, regions, soil types, personal grooming/hygiene habits, etc, all of which can impact local ecology and the well-being of the plants you want to grab. I promise you this though; if you follow the practices I outlined, you’ll be at least making a step in the right direction this season.
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