Stuyvesant Cove Park, New York NY – New York City’s parks are proving to be yet another unwitting victim of the pandemic crisis. Short staffing, budget cuts, and reduced volunteer opportunities have left many of our green spaces to their own devices, and the weeds have been having a (literal) hay day. Compounding the issue is the fact that as New York residents have needfully turned to parks as safe outlets for socialization and recreation, they have also, sadly, left excessive trash and trampled plantings in their wake.
“It’s just a lot for our two person team to handle”, says Candace Thompson, the manager of Stuyvesant Cove Park in lower Manhattan. “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.”
Which is why that particular park has decided to hire some help of the non-human variety. Starting September 8th, 20 goats from Green Goats of Rhinebeck will be taking a Manhattan mini-vacation within a fenced off area of “Stuy Cove” Park, a 2 acre native food forest on the East River. During their tenure, the goats will be charged with a simple task: eat everything in sight. Solar One, the environmental education non-profit that manages the space, hopes this will assist park staff in minimizing excessive plant biomass while also fertilizing the soil for next season, all in just a few short days. 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 Larry and I first started our goatscaping company, my family back home in Guayana all teased me.” says 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. Now they’ll be taking a stab (or nibble, as it were) at Stuy Cove’s bindweed problem.
Interested in being a part of the action? You can sign up to volunteer, support Stuy Cove’s GOAT FUND ME, or follow along with these walking weedeaters from home via the park’s Instagram. With remote and in-person learning starting the same week here in NYC, students and teachers alike can visit the park’s ‘Goat Cam’ to check their progress, or take a Zoom break and come watch sustainable land stewardship in action.
Solar One (CEC Stuyvesant Cove, Inc.): Solar One is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to design and deliver innovative education, training, and technical assistance that fosters sustainability and resiliency in diverse urban environments. We empower learning that changes the way people think about energy, sustainability, and resilience by engaging and educating a diverse set of stakeholders and beneficiaries. Our programs help individuals and communities explore new ways of living and working that are more adaptive to a changing world.
For more info contact Candace Thompson, Stuy Cove Park Manager at email@example.com or Michael Barry, Solar One Communications Manager at (646) 741-5225 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.