Sustainably Harvesting Wild Leeks

Sustainably Harvesting Wild Leeks

Due to their popularity as wild food, ramps have been over-harvested to near extinction in many areas. In some regions, it is now illegal to harvest Ramps. Fortunately, we still have areas with large populations of wild leeks in Ontario.  

Sustainable Wild Leeks Harvesting Tips:

  1. Remember, ramps take 7-15 years to mature and multiply. Patches that are over-harvested can take many, many years to recover.

  2. Wild Leeks are very strong in flavour. A little goes a long way in recipes, and remember, you cannot substitute Wild Leeks for traditional Leeks. Take only what you need, and use what you take.

  3. The most sustainable way to harvest Wild Leeks is to pick one leaf from each plant. The leaves contain the same flavour as the bulb without killing the plant. This allows the bulb and root to remain intact and allows the plant to flower, set seed, and not disturb the soil.

  4. Another option is to carefully cut the bulb approximately a half centimetre above the roots. Leave the bottom centimetre with the roots in the ground and take the rest. This often does not kill the plant.

Picking Guidelines

  • Harvest on private land where you know there is limited or no other harvesting pressure from wild foragers.

  • Select patches larger than two meters in size and in forests with an abundance of Wild Leeks.

  • Never take more than 5% of the patch and harvest from a different patch the following year.

  • Use the whole plant. The leaves, bulb, and even the roots can be used in recipes. If you harvest it, use it!

      Back to blog