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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Ramps On The Farm, Not In The Woods

Kevin Pope grows ramps on his Lucas Lane Farm by harvesting the wild plants from the woods behind his property and then transplanting them near his hoop houses.

  • ramps in the ground

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    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    Kevin Pope transplanted these ramps three years ago.

  • lucas lane farm

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    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    Kevin Pope, on his Lucas Lane Farm

  • lucas lane farm hoop house

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    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    The hoop houses at Lucas Lane Farm are bursting with spinach.

  • planting ramps

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    Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

    Pope has three small patches of ramps on his farm. He plans to wait a couple more years before harvesting.

It’s the foraging time of year. Last week, we talked about what you can pluck from the woods. Of course ramps are a hot commodity in the spring. These wild leeks give you the best of both onions and garlic in one leafy package.

If you want just enough for dinner tonight, it’s enjoyable to take a walk in the woods and harvest a dozen leaves or so. But if you want to supply a restaurant with ramps, wouldn’t it be great if you could grow them on farms just like any other crop?

I visited a farmer who’s trying to do just that — Kevin Pope’s Lucas Lane Farm is a 23-acre property located just off Ramp Creek Road.

Kevin says the forest behind his property is teeming with ramps this time of year. “They love moisture, they love loamy soil,” he says. “So, we brought them back up and replanted all around here so I don’t have to go down off the sides of ravines and everything to dig them out.”

He points out three small patches of ramps around the farm. The first bed was transplanted three years ago, and while he could probably start harvesting the leaves this season, he wants to wait until the bed is completely carpeted with plants.

The wild ramps season is a short one. He digs up plants from the woods for about a month. Then he transplants them closer to his house. “And then I would probably say June or July, this little odd chandelier of a seed pod will come up. It might have 10 or 12 seeds on there, maybe more. Little white flowers, and then they will drop and replenish,” he says.

Kevin is an artist by profession, so he says he’s learning about growing food as he goes. He’s made connections with local chefs who buy his produce, and he puts up a table at the Smithville Farmers Market.

“There’s something to be said about the start of the season and the end of a season, and what you do during that time period. The self-satisfaction is incredible,” he says.

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Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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