Blog: Squaxin Island woman heeds the call of native blackberry

"Sally Brownfield, a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, grew up picking berries on her family's land in Kamilche, Mason County. For Coast Salish tribes, berries are an important food source, but also a cultural touchstone.

The gathering is as importance as the eating, Brownfield said. "I have been picking blackberries ever since I was little with my Mom, and we got told all the family history when we went out picking. My mom had eight kids, and when my mom was a young lady, they didn't have freezers, they had to pick enough to have 100 quarts before they could have a pie, to make sure they had food for the winter. When you were out picking blackberries you did not eat them in the field, we got up really early in the morning just as it was daylight, and you learned a lot of discipline."

And she isn't talking about the big, non-native Himalayan blackberries, but the tiny, succulent, trailing blackberry, Washington's only native blackberry.

Busy as she is today as education director for her tribe, Brownfield said she still makes time to pick. "The trailing blackberries are ripening now, it is time to pick, they are calling me," she said."

Get the Story:
Nature 911: Enjoy them now -- wild berries are ripe (The Seattle Times 7/25)

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