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Boston Mayor Turns to “Goatscaping” to Clean Up Parks

Not only do goats make fresh, creamy milk for cheese production, but they’re also efficient at cleaning up parks and forests, as Boston’s mayor Marty Walsh has discovered. For the first time in the city’s history, volunteers and park employees are letting animals do their dirty work by hiring a team of “goatscapers” to clear the area of invasive plants, like poison ivy. 

Boston Parks and Recreation will pay for 4 goats from the Goatscaping Company, based in Plymouth, to spend 8 weeks munching on the underbrush in a section of Hyde Park — just a few miles away from the culture office, for those who don’t know. Four or five goats, contained by an electric fence, can clear up to an acre of brush about 6 feet high in approximately a week. And since goats will climb just about anywhere, they’ll reach high or rocky crevices that lawnmowers can’t. 

The Goatscaping Company keeps their goats on a farm in Plympton and rents out the animals as an alternative to using pesticides and heavy machinery as a way to landscape. While the “goatscaping” occurs, a “Green Team” of students will feed and care for the goats. The company has also booked various larger jobs across the state of Massachusetts, including a golf course and a state hospital, along with numerous private homeowners.

Elaine Philbrick, co-founder of the Goatscaping Company, says that goats love anything in a New England forest.“About the only thing they don’t eat are some of the ferns. They eat poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, so it allows people to access the parks. Right now [that area] is just completely a jungle. So the goats will hopefully create a beautiful innocuous green space for people to enjoy.”

 Photo Credit: Barry Chin via Boston Globe 

Erica Mixon

Erica Mixon is an editorial intern at Culture. Mixon is also the arts editor of Emerson College's student-run newspaper, the Berkeley Beacon, and editor in chief of an upcoming human resources blog, HRTalentManagement. While Erica is not editing or writing, she enjoys spending time in her hometown of Ogunquit, Maine.