Found Some!

Ramps, Wild Garlic, Allium Tricoccum, Wild Leek... by any other name would keep a vampire at bay.

Ramps, Wild Garlic, Allium Tricoccum, Wild Leek… by any other name would keep a vampire at bay.

We went out to explore the Caledon area Sunday afternoon, and there, by the side of the road, among the leaves in a stand of hardwood trees was second wild crop of the spring season.

Maple syrup is first.  Wild garlic or wild leek is second.

Wild garlic/leek is also called ramp, which, according to John Mariani, author of “The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink,” the word ramp comes from “rams,” or “ramson,” an Elizabethan dialect rendering of the wild garlic.

This wild plant is indigenous to North America (how did the Elizabethans find them?).  They grow in hardwood forests from the Carolinas north to Ontario and Quebec. In Tennessee and West Virginia they celebrate their arrival with many festivals and events.  This past weekend, in fact, Richwood West Virginia celebrated the Feast of the Ramson at the Richwood High School starting at 10:30 a.m.  That might be a little early in the morning for the very strong onion/garlic taste of ramson, but it is quite good as a flavour for scrambled eggs.

Richwood is home to the N.R.A. – the National Ramp Association – and one of the areas most celebrated proponent of wild leeks was a fellow named Bato Crites.  He has passed away now but was known as the Ramp King of Nicholas County West Virginia, and in the Appalachian Mountains.  He used to say there was nothing like ramp to flavour a dish… and people in the area celebrate his passion every year when those green leaves appear.  The flavour and aroma of ramps is a combination of onions and very strong garlic.  In fact, celebrations are often nicknamed “stinky weekends” as the scent may keep friends at a distance for a few days.

Cautions aside, ramps add wonderful flavour to soups, egg dishes, casseroles, rice dishes and potato dishes. They’re easy to clean. Just clean off the dirt, give them a rinse and cut off the roots. Use them raw or cooked in any recipe calling for scallions or leeks, or cook them in a more traditional way, scrambled with eggs or fried with potatoes. The leaves are much more tender than cultivated leeks, and their flavour is milder so you can cut them up and use them to add flavour.

It’s a very short season, and before you dig some up, find out about any local restrictions.  In Quebec, for instance, commercial gathering is illegal and there are limits to the amount individuals can possess.  And when you dig, please don’t take any more than a few from each bunch.


OK, I just heard back from John Mariani who explained the Elizabethan connection to the name.  The term ramp in England referred to the wild garlic plant Arum Maculatum.  It was also called cockopintell and wake robin.  The English came up with some great names for things.  Anyway, when they English arrived on this continent, they found Allium tricoccum, and called it ramp as well.  In the same way, they called the American fowl turkey because it resembled the guinea fowl that came by way of the country of Turkey and they called the thrush “robin” because it looked somewhat similar to the English robin.

Farmers’ Markets in the Hills – Mark Your Calendar

The Farmers’ Markets will open again soon… said he, champing at the bit… and there are several of them.

The Amaranth Farmers’ Market will open May 28.  It runs Wednesday afternoons from 3 to 7 p.m. and is located at the Amaranth Township Offices, on the 6th line of Amaranth just north of the 10th Side Road, west of Laurel.

The Bolton (Caledon) Farmers’ Market opens June 14.  It has a new location this year: in the valley in downtown Bolton, on Mill Street at Highway 50.  The market runs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Erin Farmers’ Market starts June 13.  It’s at 184 Main Street in Erin and it’s on every Friday afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m.

The Inglewood Farmers’ Market is up in the air right now.  I’ll let you know.

Orangeville Farmers’ Market I’ve already talked about.  It starts May 10 and runs every Saturday morning on Second Avenue right beside Town Hall.

Shelburne Farmers’ Market, like Inglewood is TBD.

Farmers’ Markets Starting Again – YAY!

The Orangeville Farmers’ Market starts up on Saturday May 10.  Although there have been monthly markets indoors in the atrium of Orangeville’s Town Hall, through the winter, they’re not the same.  The last one indoors is April 12.  Saucy Girl Foods will bring – and sample – their soups and other goodies… Wayne Speers will bring his “Smokin'” beef, Bert & Janet Niewenhuis will have lamb, Randy Leitch will have the output from his bees… lots to fill your kitchen with some treats for yourself or gifts… and best of all it’s local.

BUT… when they’re outdoors again, there’ll be fresh bread from Amanda and 100 Acre Bakery, fruit from Beamsville, fresh greens from Am Braigh and Fiddle Foot, Arthur Greenhouses will have annuals and perennials to kick start the garden.  Anthony and Cheryl from Black Willow Farms will bring maple syrup and preserves… I hope, anyway.  As the season goes on Evan Besley will bring his beautiful greenhouse tomatoes, the Best Baa Dairy will have sheep’s milk cheese – delicious… here’s the Website for more details.  No doubt there will be new people, maybe the guy with the fresh and smoked rainbow trout from Georgian Bay… mmmm.

I hope the weather is better than the day of the last outdoor market in October.

looking up 2nd Avenue at the snowy vendors

A Heavy Wet Snow and Cold Kept People Away at First

A scarecrow competition was part of the plan but I think this was the only entry.  It would probably have won anyway.

Hay Bay Scare Crow with Snow

Hay Bale Scare Crow

Despite the weather, there was fresh produce to take home… and when the snow stopped, the crowds fattened up.


a table of multicoloured tomatoes

A Stunning Choice of Heritage Tomato Varieties

I’ll let you know when the other markets are starting up.