Contributed by Heather Jeffreys, Appalachian Sustainable Development VISTA.

Preserve Your Land and Make Money?

Who wants to grow some ramps?

You just need moist land.

Shaded, if you’ve got it.

North-facing slope.

We’ll give you the bulbs, the seeds,

instruction, too

These are all the things ASD can do for you.


ASD being Appalachian Sustainable Development, of course. It’s Saturday, February 25th and we’re on our way to present a ramps workshop in Greeneville, TN. We VISTA volunteers - Katie Commender and I — are in the backseat putting 1,000 ramp bulbs into plastic bags—roughly 33 to a bag. In the front passenger seat, ASD Contract Forester Emily Lachniet is measuring out ramp seeds and telling us about Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). ASD’s Learning Landscapes Manager Deni Peterson is driving through this blustery but gorgeously sunny morning, telling us the particulars about ramp planting.

“The way you determine the best place for ramps is the last place the snow melts,” she begins. “Then you know it is the moistest and the most shaded spot on your land.” When we reach Greeneville and the ramps workshop officially begins, Deni repeats that basic fact.

This workshop (free to participants) is co-sponsored by ASD and Rural Resources. Both nonprofits are dedicated to empowering people to take care of the land, and in so doing, take care of themselves and future generations—economically, environmentally, and emotionally. The three E’s if you will.

Now the workshop is in full swing, and Deni goes on to say “The market for ramps is expanding due to the demand created by Ramp Festivals that are over harvesting wild ramp populations as well as the interest from restaurants serving locally grown “in season” produce”. ASD and Rural Resources are co-sponsoring these workshops in hopes that in the future, landowners can use their forested land for growing ramps and other NTFPs—such as pawpaws, ginseng, goldenseal, shiitake mushrooms and elderberry, to make money. This way the forest can stay but people can make a profit, too—the environment’s needs and humans’ needs can match up.

We are warned to keep in mind, however, that ramps and many other NTFPs take a while to become potentially profitable. If we are planting ramps from seeds we can expect to wait up to seven years until we have enough to sell to a restaurant. From bulbs we can expect to wait up to three years.

As the workshop is in full swing it mixes instruction, information, hands-on planting, and free seeds and bulbs in hopes that landowners in the Appalachian region can utilize their resources in a sustainable way, and keep the local economy healthy.

All in all, thirty families joined us this cold windy day, and the ramps workshop was a big success. We gave away 30+ bags of ramp bulbs. On behalf of ASD, Katie and I will be checking on these families to assess how the ramp-growing is going. Hopefully every family successfully grows ramps and their patches keep expanding and who knows? The future is bright and most likely full of these wild and crazy leek-cousins. Yum, Yum!



Ramps (Wild Leeks) Workshop to be held at Rural Resources

Are you looking for something to grow on your forestland in addition to timber?  Production of non-timber forest products, known commonly as NTFPs, has a long history of helping forest landowners generate income from their land. Ramps, also know as spring onions or wild leeks, are one of the region's most popular native species of NTFPs.  Rural Resources, in partnership with Appalachian Sustainable Development, will host the Ramps Workshop at Rural Resources on Saturday, February 25 from 10:00am-noon.

The popularity of this early spring delicacy, celebrated at festivals and featured in restaurants, has resulted in overharvesting where ramps are historically found.  Workshop participants will learn how both bulbs and seed are propagated during an on-site demonstration.  We will explore ramp cultivation and marketing, and other NTFP opportunities including goldenseal, ginseng, pawpaws, shiitake mushrooms and elderberries.

The workshop is free, but registration is required.  To register, please contact Rural Resources or call us 423.636.8171.  You can also contact ASD at 276-623-1121 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Please include your name, email address, phone number, county of residence, and acreage in your RSVP.

Learn More About What We Do!

If you missed the Mobile Farmers' Market webinar, it's not too late!  You can still get in on the fun by clicking here.  Join Rhonda Hensley, the Mobile Farmers' Market manager, as she explains the nuts and bolts of our operation, how it got started, and how it's working now!  If you've ever had questions about the Mobile Market, this is a great place to get those questions answered.  Pass on the word!

Do you want to learn how to successfully manage chickens on pasture? Build the proper shelter for egg-laying chickens on pasture? Turn poor soil into healthy garden beds for vegetable production?

On Saturday, March 31st, Rural Resources is excited to host a farming workshop at JEM Farm, located just outside historic Rogersville, TN.  The workshop will consist of two parts: pastured poultry and raised garden beds.  Workshop participants will get hands-on experience...

-building a mobile chicken shelter
-creating raised beds with healthy, nutrient rich soil made from simple inexpensive materials
-seeing all stages of raising pastured poultry for egg-laying hens from raising chicks to washing the eggs

The workshop runs from 10am to 3pm.  There is a cost associated with this workshop: $12 if registered by March 21st, $16 thereafter.  The price includes lunch.  Please let us know if you have any special dietary needs.  To register, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at 423-636-8171.  We hope you can join us!

JEM Farm is the only certified organic farm in Hawkins County. Elizabeth and John Malayter raise certified organic eggs from pastured poultry and grow a variety of certified organic vegetables throughout the year.

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