At the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, Historic Seattle stewards not only a significant historic building, but also a landscape that includes space for contemplation, recreation, and food production. The grounds, tended by lead gardener Tara Macdonald, include 18 varieties of apple trees, concentrated at the edges of the south parking lot. The tradition of growing apples on this site began with the nuns who operated the Home of the Good Shepherd from 1906 to 1973, and has continued under Historic Seattle’s ownership of the building since 1975.
Recently, these apple trees have benefited from the attention and care of several volunteers, particularly Barb Burrill of City Fruit and Don Ricks of the Seattle Tree Fruit Society. Both volunteers were on hand for a special apple tasting event on September 30, which coincided with the Wednesday Farmers Market in Meridian Park, adjacent to the Good Shepherd Center.
Those who stopped at Historic Seattle’s apple tasting table were treated to slices of nine different types of apples. Some of these were old-fashioned or heritage varieties, and others new. Tara and the volunteers provided information about the apple varieties, such as their origin, recommended use, and cold and disease resistance, as well as about organic pest control techniques.
Apple tasters – including neighbors, tenants, and students at the Good Shepherd Center-based Meridian School – had the opportunity to vote for their favorite variety. The hands-down winner was the Melrose apple with 36 votes, followed by the Liberty apple. With the success of this year’s tasting, we expect to repeat and grow this event with next year’s fall harvest. We would love to see you at our upcoming events; visit our website for more information.
Photos: Tara Macdonald offers slices of apples harvested from trees at the Good Shepherd Center / Credit: Dana Phelan