Goats Lend a Helping Hoof

By Sarah Mayotte

Lending a helping hoof, landscapers will be coming to Boston soon to help clear up some of Hyde Park and the George Wright Golf Course. What makes this interesting is that the landscapers will actually be goats.

The goats come in and eat all of the vegetation in the area, eliminating the need for traditional landscaping methods. They are being provided by Go Green Goats, a company founded by Elaine Philbrick and Jim Cormier, located out of Plympton, Massachusetts.

“The goats love it. Goats are very curious and intelligent creatures, and they just get a fresh variety of greenery all day.” said Philbrick. By having ‘goatscaping’ as opposed to traditional landscaping, is beneficial in many different ways.

“There’s no loud machinery; there’s a lot of areas you can’t get machinery on, like slopes or the way the trees are positioned and we don’t have any human laborers facing poison ivy,” explained Ryan Woods, director of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s external affairs division.

The goats also digest all of the species of vegetation, which then get broken down and the goats deposit an odorless fertilizer back into the site.

The $11,000 program is being funded by the Parks and Recreation Department Nonprofit fund.

The goats were first brought to Hyde Park in 2014. The Southwest Boston Community Development Cooperative proposed the idea to Mayor Martin Walsh of bringing goats into an area of the park.
“It was overrun with poison ivy, Japanese buckwheat, and wild thornberry, which are all invasive species that were continuously growing,” said Woods. “It was an area we couldn’t get machines into, so this was a great alternative.”

The goats will also contribute in the George Wright Golf Course becoming certified by Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, a subprogram of Audubon International. The program works to educate golf courses and help them become environmentally friendly.

“It’s a five-step process, we [The Boston Parks and Recreation Department] have two Golf Courses: The Franklin Park Golf Course, and The George Wright Golf Course. The Franklin Park Golf Course has three steps complete out of the five-step process, we’re just going into the process at the George Wright course to make it an Audubon Certification.” said Woods.
In addition to goats, George Wright Golf Course will also be adding beehives in the park in part of the Wildlife and Habitat Management Step.

“The Company Best Bees is coming in and installing hives in an isolated section of the golf course, so even if you are the worst golfer in the world, you would not hit a golf ball in the direction. These are Italian honey bees who tend to not sting people and cause much harm unless they are agitated or provoked but they also produce honey, we could have Boston Honey,” said Woods.

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