With its population in a pandemic flux, New York City is going to the goats.
A herd of 20 goats is set to arrive at Stuyvesant Cove Park on the East River next week and their job is to “eat everything in sight.”
“Mother Nature really got the jump on us with the weeds this spring and I feel like we’ll never catch up on top of everything else,” said Candace Thompson, manager of the lower Manhattan park. “It’s just a lot for our two-person team to handle.”
According to Thompson, the coronavirus pandemic has left the two-acre park overrun with weeds and grass that grew as a result of short staffing, budget cuts and reduced volunteer opportunities.
Compounding the issue is the fact that as New York residents have turned to parks as safe outlets for socialization and recreation, leaving excessive trash and trampled plantings in their wake.
So starting September 8, 20 goats from Green Goats of Rhinebeck will be let loose in the park managed by environmental education on-profit, Solar One.
While goats may seem an unorthodox fix to a weed problem, foraging animals have long been used in sustainable agricultural practices to manage overabundant species, and Green Goats in particular have been lending their services to public spaces and institutions across the greater New York area for over 15 years.
“When we first started our goatscaping company, my family back home in Guayana all teased me,” said Annilita Cihanek, co-owner of Green Goats of Rhinebeck. “Now we work full time on contracts for city, state and national parks, we travel constantly, and get lots of press. Let me tell you, my family isn’t laughing any more.”
Over the past three decades goatscaping has become increasingly popular as an herbicide-free way to manage invasive species. Goats have been used for weed control both on Chinese tea plantations and in California forests for brush control and wildfire prevention. In 2016, Riverside Park Conservancy recruited a herd to help clear overgrown vegetation.