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Born to be wild: Diggin’ for ramps

By Staff | Apr 29, 2015

CHARLESTON – Wild, Wonderful West Virginia recently hosted “Go Outside and Dig Ramps.” The day’s activities began with a ramp dig in Rock Cave and concluded with a cooking demonstration at the Capitol Market in Charleston.

“We are excited to share in this West Virginia tradition and showcase the tremendous versatility of wild ramps,” Commissioner of Tourism Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “From home-cooked meals to international cuisine, ramps are a staple in many kitchens.”

Chef Dale Hawkins of Fish Hawk Acres guided the ramp dig in Rock Cave, Upshur County. Allan Hathaway, owner of The Purple Onion, assisted with cleaning and preparing the ramps at the Capitol Market in Charleston and Chef Hawkins made and shared a ramp chowder recipe.

Also known as ramson or wild leek, the garlicky-scented ramp grows in the forested, mountainous regions of West Virginia and is harvested in early spring. Ramps are an Appalachian delicacy, celebrated at fairs and festivals and served at restaurants in a variety of ways. They are available for purchase seasonally at many farmers markets throughout West Virginia. For a listing of markets, visit West Virginia Farmers Market Association at WVFarmers.org.

Several ramp-themed events take place in West Virginia each year in April, including the annual Feast of the Ramson in Richwood and the “Ramps and Rail” festival in Elkins. Visit wvtourism.com for more information.

Ramp Chowder

Recipe courtesy of Chef Dale Hawkins, Fish Hawk Acres


3 slices bacon

1 cup chopped ramps

3 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and diced

2 quarts chicken broth

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 cups whole milk

4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese

cup heavy whipping cream


Cook bacon in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving bacon drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside. Add onion to drippings in pan; saut 3 minutes or until tender.

Place potato slices and ramps in a 6-quart pot. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Stir in milk, cheese and heavy whipping cream. Top with bacon crumbles.