In Search of Ramps Somewhere in Franklin County

It was a blustery day but sunny. It was a good day to go for a walk.  As we strolled through one of the projects on the Jail-side of Greenfield, we headed downhill to a bike trail that lead to the Green River Recreation area by the Green River.

Wild ramps in an undisclosed location in Franklin county.
Wild ramps in an undisclosed location in Franklin county.

For many years I lived in this town, raising my kids and taking them here to go swimming on countless evenings and on many lazy Sunday afternoons.

It’s a popular picnic area that in recent years has become nearly all Spanish speaking. The Hispanic populations of the town plus Turners Falls and Holyoke have discovered the place and made it their own. Any July Sunday here and it’s loud salsa, chicken on the grill and rice and beans cooking on stoves. Many non-Hispanics no longer come here, since it’s crowded and loud, but it is still a gem of a place–hey, how many clean, free-flowing rivers offer these amenities right next to a snack bar and all of these picnic tables?

But we weren’t here to have a picnic or go for a swim. On this still-chilly April afternoon, were foraging for a little-known delicacy called ramps.  These little wild scallions pop up this time of year, and look just like ordinary leaves. They like shade and they like dampness, and they look a bit like many other plants you’d find this time of year.  We had a ways to go to find our treasure but the hunt was on.

But if you go into Whole Foods this time of year, you might be able to buy these green leaves with the tube at the bottom for about $15 a pound!  There are people in New England who do a brisk business heading out to secret spots like this and clipping them to sell at fancy stores.

Ours would not be sold to anyone. We steamed them up and enjoyed them with a little garlic. And for that powerful taste, all of that clipping and cleaning and the long walk were worth every bite.