As spring is waking our forested landscapes, the earth comes to life with all manner of greenery of spring flowers. We understand this is a popular season to harvest food from the forest. We would like to issue a word of caution about foraging for edibles in and around Burlington. Our forests are beautiful and bountiful; Let’s keep them that way for future generations.
BPRW, the Intervale1 and the Winooski Valley Park District2 all manage lands where popular Ostrich Ferns (also known as fiddleheads), ramps (wild leeks) and edible mushrooms grow. These seasonal delicacies, can be sustainably harvested in certain areas, but our densely populated region can easily strip the forests of these important understory species. In fact, these species are identified to be locally ‘at risk’ or threatened!
What happens when fiddleheads are over harvested?
If too many plants are removed, the species cannot reproduce and will we wiped out in that area. That leaves opportunities for other non-native/invasive or nuisance plants to move in, upsetting the delicate balance of our wild areas.
We encourage foragers to consider other plant options that are either very abundant or considered “invasive”, but equally delicious and nutritious. Read more about this topic and other yummy alternatives to fiddlehead and ramps. Let us know if you have successful recipes that incorporate garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, lambsquarters or burdock!
1- the Intervale prohibits the harvest of ramps and fiddleheads
2- Winooski Valley Park District prohibits the picking and/or harvesting of plants from their lands; all plants should be left in the setting in which they are found.