Today, Prospect Park introduced eight goats in the Vale of Cashmere, a herd Sue Donaghue, President of of the Prospect Park Alliance called today the “newest and most adorable addition to the landscape management crew.” These goats will be restoring woodlands damaged from recent storms, including Superstorm Sandy. Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest, and the loss of 500 trees was significant enough to warrant a $1.2 million in restoration grants for the Vale of Cashmere and Lookout Hill from the National Park Service, through the New York State Office of the Parks.
The goats will eat invasive plants, such as English ivy and goutweed, that have entered the Vale of Cashmere in the eastern portion of Prospect Park, which has lost 50 trees. The goats are so efficient, they actually eat 25% of their bodyweight in vegetation a day, processing their consumption with four stomachs. According to Prospect Park, “the goats will eat the weeds down to their roots, forcing the plants to use all their energy to grow new shoots, only to be eaten by the goats once again. The plants grow back smaller and smaller, and the goats keep eating until eventually the plants do not have enough energy to grow back at all.”
As Leslie Wright, NYC Regional Director of the New York State Office of the Parks joked today at the opening, the goats are a “small carbon footprint workforce,” for Prospect Park. The goats hail from the farm Green Goats in Rhinebeck county and include Nubian, Angora and Pygmy breeds. They’ve performed similar service at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island and the Gateway National Recreation Area, but this will be their first trip to Brooklyn. When the goats are done with their job, they’ll return to the farm.
Prospect Park will have programming surrounding the arrival of these goats– a sold out evening at the Lefferts Historic House on Thursday with Larry and Ann Cihanek, the owners and shepherds of Green Goats, and Prospect Park Alliance Chief Landscape Architect Christian Zimmerman. On Sunday May 22nd, there will be a Fun on the Farm event, where families can enjoy tours to see the goats, goat milk ice cream making and more.
Next, read about the Secrets of Prospect Park.
Michelle is the founder of Untapped New York. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture.