Poison ivy has finally met its match, and it comes in the form of four legs, two pointy ears, a stubby tail, and an iron stomach. The Parks Department has joined forces with the Southwest Boston Community Development Corporation and the Goatscaping Company of Duxbury and Plymouth to bring goats to the West Urban Street Wild in Hyde Park in order to combat invasive species and provide a greener approach to landscape management.
(Christopher is one of four goats who will be working to tackle the invasive species in Hyde Park over the next 8 weeks.)
The idea was presented by a group of teenagers from the Hyde Park Green Team—SWBCDC’s environmental education and job readiness program—at Mayor Walsh’s May 27 Mayor’s Neighborhood Coffee Hour at McGann Playground.
Unlike noisy machinery or toxic herbicides, goats work quietly and without disturbance. There is no need to haul or dump debris, as the goats will eat invasive species and digest any harmful seeds and oils. Goats also reduce the risk of wildfires and do not damage soil, thanks to their small hooves.
And just like people, goats will eat their favorite foods first. During their time in Hyde Park, the goats will taste everything on the property and eat the most delicious plants first, and eat what they like least at the end of their time there.
“Right now they are eating dessert, but by the end of it they’ll be eating their peas and carrots,” explained Jim Corimer, cofounder of the Goatscaping Company.
The four goats will live on site in Hyde Park for eight weeks. They’ll be protected from coyotes through the use of a low-voltage, solar powered fence that is harmless to humans—even children, the elderly, and those with pacemakers.
Teenagers from the Hyde Park Green team will care for the goats including providing them with fresh water and supplemental hay. Anyone interested in helping out with the goats on the weekend should call 617-364-7300 to receive a short training from SWBCDC.
(The brains behind this operations: Hyde Park Green Team #HPGreenTeam14)
This isn’t the first time Boston has employed the use of goats as landscapers. They are currently used on the Boston Harbor Islands, and Cormier recalled goatscaping Westborough State Hospital with the help of nine goats and six sheep.
You can also go view the goats! They are used to people of all ages, so they won’t bite or buck. But the animals will be eating and living among poison ivy, so you should not pet them. Additionally, visitors should not tease or feed the goats.
“I’m going to come here every morning just to see them. This is phenomenal,” said Marchelle Jacques-Yarde, Hyde Park resident and Parks Department employee. “I have a two year old, and she will be definitely be taking a field trip this afternoon,” she added.
But if you happen head over to the West Street Urban Wild and see the goats taking a nap, don’t worry.
“Sometimes I’ll get calls from people who rent out our goats to say that they aren’t doing anything,” said Corimer. “I just tell them, you don’t eat 24 hours a day, and neither do goats. Just give them a break!”