Lifestyle

Tulalip Tribes honor partnership with Master Gardeners

Ray Fryberg, executive director of cultural and natural resources for the Tulalip Tribes, listens with Mabel Norris, Burleigh Snyder, Joyce Alexander and Rob Taylor as Roni Leahy, of the Tulalip Tribes’ Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, asks for a blessing upon those inside the Hibulb Cultural Center greenhouse on Feb. 12. - Kirk Boxleitner
Ray Fryberg, executive director of cultural and natural resources for the Tulalip Tribes, listens with Mabel Norris, Burleigh Snyder, Joyce Alexander and Rob Taylor as Roni Leahy, of the Tulalip Tribes’ Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, asks for a blessing upon those inside the Hibulb Cultural Center greenhouse on Feb. 12.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

TULALIP — The Tulalip Tribes recognized their partnership with the Washington State University Master Gardeners Extension on Wednesday, Feb. 12, with a blessing ceremony at the Hibulb Cultural Center greenhouse.

Tulalip Tribes Public Affairs Officer Francesca Hillery explained that WSU and the Master Gardeners Foundation are taking over the greenhouse for a year, not only to grow food for food banks and to teach classes that will be open to the general public, but also to continue to grow plants and seedlings for the needs of the Tulalip Tribes and the surrounding community.

Roni Leahy, of the Tulalip Tribes’ Diabetes Care and Prevention Program, expressed her gratitude to Ray Fryberg, executive director of cultural and natural resources for the Tribes, for the blessing and prayer that he provided that morning.

“I personally believe in what’s going on here,” said Fryberg, one of many in attendance who offered accounts of how switching to more natural, homegrown diets had yielded health benefits to their own lives. “When I quit smoking 10 years ago, I gained 40 pounds and got diabetes. After I went on a paleo diet, I haven’t had to take medicine for two years.”

Fryberg warned against processed foods, and advocated on behalf of organically grown fruits and vegetables, as he reported that the Tribes are exploring a cold storage facility for their native foods, from berries to salmon, deer and elk.

Chelsea Craig, a teacher at the Tulalip and Quil Ceda elementary schools, adopted a similar diet to Fryberg because she wanted to be around for her daughter, rather than dying relatively early, as her grandparents had done.

“Within one year, I lost 60 pounds,” Craig said. “I’d like to see as many Tribal members as outside visitors here at this greenhouse.”

“So many blessings have already been laid upon this land, because everything here has been done with prayer,” Leahy said. “What I would ask is for a blessing upon the people inside this greenhouse.”

Sharon Coleman, of the WSU Snohomish County Extension for horticulture education, praised Leahy’s efforts to foster this partnership.

“We’ve been saddened by the Tribal members whom we’ve lost over the past year, and we hope that programs such as this will help lengthen their lives,” Coleman said.

The Hibulb Cultural Center greenhouse will host seedling classes on Sunday, Feb. 23, and Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 1-3 p.m., followed by transplant classes on Sunday, March 16, and Wednesday, March 19, also from 1-3 p.m. For more information, contact Leahy by phone at 360-716-5642 or via email at vleahy@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov.

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