[This exerpt is from Seattle’s Orchards: A Historic Legacy Meets Modern Sustainability, by Audrey LIeberworth. It’s a thesis paper written for Scripps College that explores the historic and new orchards in Seattle.]
Meridian Park is located on the wide expanse of parkland in front of the Good Shepherd Center. Mark Wilson, the property manager for the Good Shepherd Center, states that the building, which was constructed in 1905, originally housed the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, a Roman Catholic order of nuns that were devoted to the care, rehabilitation and education of girls and young women in crisis. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd believed that by providing the benefits of a stable and loving home, the girls could become responsible, moral and caring women. The nuns planted and maintained an orchard at the site in order to teach the girls home economics, how to cook and grow food.
This site operated until 1973 when, as a result of receiving fewer donations, the Center closed. Ashley Fent’s survey of the fruit trees in Seattle Parks documents that after its closure, community members took action to preserve the site as a historic landmark and the parkland was acquired by SPD in 1976. Over sixty apple, pear and plum trees remain at both Meridian Park and the Good Shepherd Center, which is now used to house various local business practices. The SPD and Historic Seattle take care of these fruit trees.
Editor’s Note: In addition, Don Ricks, resident City Fruit blogger and involved in the Seattle Tree Fruit Society, looks after these trees as well. He often organizes volunteers for pruning, foot sock application, and harvesting. The Good Shepherd Center is also home to Seattle Tilth.