SQUEAL! Grand Rapids Food: A Culinary Revolution is now available for preorder via Amazon.com. It will also be available for purchase locally around Grand Rapids.
Spotted: Wild leeks, Allium tricoccum
Regionally, Wild Leeks are distributed as far east as New York State and through Canada, west into the forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota and south into Appalachia.
Here in Michigan, the Wild Leeks (or Ramps are they are also called) are plentiful in the Beech/Maple woods along the rivers and on the back dunes along the Lake Michigan shoreline, frequently found alongside the unfolding MayApples and Trout Lilly. They are abundant in Leelanau County, throughout the Sleeping Bear region and in the southwest portion of the state near St. Joseph and toward the Indiana border. In the Greater Grand Rapids area, they exist but do not carpet the forest floor as plentifully in other areas of the state.
A relative to onion, the Wild Leek is a bulb and is markedly onion-y in both flavor and scent. Take care to note these characteristics in trying to identify the plant, as it could be easily mistaken with the immature False Hellebore, or Lily of the Valley, which neither smells or tastes like onion, and is quite poisonous.
I spotted these beauties at one of my favorite parks, Johnson Park. These are a part of only a few stands here along the river, outside the City of Grand Rapids — please let them alone. Equally, if you see stands within the Greater Grand Rapids area — they aren’t as abundant here as in other areas at the Lakeshore and up the coastline.
A 2011 article in The New York Times featured the Wild Leek and claimed the increase in harvesting for the restaurant market and by hobby foragers is putting pressure on the Wild Leek population. While the Wild Leek certainly is not ~that~ close to being extinct in the Great Lakes area, it is something to consider as the plant ends up on the farm to table menus and baskets of market foragers - particularly when we know the plant is not widely distributed.
Because it takes about three years for a seed to develop into a mature leek for harvesting, I personally no longer harvest the bulbs, and have taken to transplanting them to try to re-establish stands in local parks in the area. I won’t lie — I really ~love~ the Wild Leeks, but unless we take some pressure off of the plant population in our area (due large in part to the love of this plant by the farm to table & locavore community), we will over harvest them and secure their own demise.
From my perspective, I don’t believe we have enough plants in our Great Lakes bio-region to be regularly supplying the local farmers’ markets & farm to table restaurants with an abundance of wild-harvested Leeks for the entire spring season. It really is an issue we eaters must be concerned with, not just the foragers. I once saw a social media post by a local chef hauling out a full garbage bag full of leeks for his restaurant. This was several years ago, and if I saw this happen again by someone I knew in my community, I would not be afraid to do some public shaming of the chef and the restau for simply bad foraging practices. Not only is unethical foraging not ok, it goes against fundamental environmental values of “do no harm” within the local food movement.
So in the essence of helping share the knowledge — if you come across them in the farmers market or in the restaurants — I ask you to inquire about the source of the Wild Leeks. Ask about the forager’s standards. Ask about their sustainability practices. And if YOU are the forager and are planning on harvesting, take time to first learn for yourself the distribution of leeks in your area. THEN find a sizable stand and clip the tops only. This is the most sustainable way to use the plant.
Yes, I know these beauties are delicious pickled as cocktail onions in martinis (!!) and roasted, drizzled in olive oil over a nice spring egg & nettle quiche, so a few handfuls is probably is ok. And if you do indulge, just make sure you offer to help replenish the stand and give deep thanks for the plant world that sustains us.
So here’s why I tie on my shoes every day & hopefully it inspires you to get outside to push past your own limits of what you ~think~ you can do. Because you ARE stronger than you think you are. Thank you for sharing my story stellafly!
And I hope to see a few more of you ladies line up with us for the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon! Still room in the 5k!
I feel so blessed that people in my community have chosen to offer my herbal wares as gifts. It means a lot … I love my work and I love that it’s being shared. ♥
Ryan P Photo. Creative talent that will be on my team helping produce the artwork for my book, “Built From Scratch.”
Caught on Camera: Photographer Ryan Pavlovich at Rowster New American Coffee.
Ryan Pavlovich of Ryan P Photo is one of the several creatives who will be teaming up with me to produce the photography and artwork for “Built from Scratch.” Ryan’s aesthetic is gritty and real. “I don’t take a lot of time styling a shoot. People will ask me what to wear, that they will ‘Clean up for me.’ I don’t want them to clean up- I want to come in an shoot them in their element. I want them to be real in their space, not a lot of makeup. With grit.”
Looking forward to working with Ryan and other local creatives on this collaborative effort — great talent that will truly capture the essence of what’s going on in our local food community here in Grand Rapids!
Planning a Food Truck O-Rama
If food trucks like The Silver Spork can make real food that’s not only healthy & local & fast - but delicious — then I approve.
We need more of these eating options in downtown Grand Rapids. Here’s to hoping the Commission does its part to encourage entrepreneurs like Molly & The Silver Spork — Favorable ordinances in support of these businesses are a necessary part of developing a vibrant food scene in Grand Rapids.
~Author’s Note: Tell your GR Commissioner to say YES! To Food Trucks in DT GR!~
Seduced by these flowering Linden. #TreePorn
Chickens are illegal in the City of Grand Rapids. But shhhhhh…. I am harboring one at The Urban Ranch…
Beautiful. Alexander Calder, La Grande Vitesse & Grand Rapids’ City Hall.
Never forget. This is what Grand Rapids’ City Hall once looked liked.
Dedicated in June 1969, Alexander Calder’s stabile sculpture La Grande Vitesse (by GrandRapidsPublicLibrary)
You can see calder in this picture.
A piece of Canvolution history!
Grand Rapids city government hired women to can fruit and vegetables (by GrandRapidsPublicLibrary)
Grand Rapids city government hired women to can fruit and vegetables
100 Years of Photographs from 20th Century Grand Rapids: 1930 - 1939
With people out of work and in need of food Grand Rapids city government hired women to can fruit and vegetables for consumption by needy families. [Grand Rapids City Welfare Department. Scrip Labor Collection. 67-1-2b]
There’s no better way to celebrate Summer Solstice than by cracking open a jar of freshly made strawberry jam. Perfect.
(Alpha by Common Name)
Blue Lobelia (Cultivated)
Lily of the Valley
Ox Eye Daisy
Queen Anne’s Lace
St. John’s Wort
SweatLeaf, Wild Bergamot
*A work in progress. Located in Grand Rapids, MI. Follow us on FaceBook.
Did you sip and savor? Or gulp and run?
A few of my herbal CSA members harvesting Violet flowers and Cleavers from my urban backyard gardens tonite… Love.
I am seriously loving’ the finished potager hardscaping of my front gardens. The side and back woodland areas are also shaping up to be amazing permacultured spaces with so many cool plants. Such a blessing to have this as my sanctuary in the City.
Excited to have this more formal, open space to teach more plant classes -food, herbs, gardening, cooking- out of my gardens as the season unfolds… So happy.