Hungry herd prepares hillside for Pride weekend’s Pink Triangle
San Francisco, CA – In preparation for Pride Weekend, San Francisco Public Works commissioned help from a herd of weed-eating goats to clear the Twin Peaks hillside for the annual Pink Triangle installation.
The four-legged crew provides an alternative to machinery and herbicides. They arrived at the edible worksite Thu rsday evening and are expected to be on the job through the weekend. They will be supervised day and night by human goat herders.
“Thank God for goats. They can navigate the steep terrain nimbly and access areas that our employees would have a much harder time traversing safely to get the job done,” said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru. “Plus, goats are eco-friendly and really fun to see in the middle of San Francisco.”
City Grazing is providing the 50 or so goats, and temporary fencing was e rected around the roughly 1-acre site to keep them from wandering away from the Twin Peaks hillside that faces the Castro and downtown San Francisco. The herd is a mix of goat breeds, including Boer, Alpine, Nigerian Dwarf and Pygmy.
“These goats have won the goat lottery. All they do is eat for a living,” said City Grazing manager Genevieve Church.
The hoofed herd provides benefits other than just controlling vegetation: the goats’ poop adds nutrients to the soil, and their urine slows down weed growth.
Volunteers are set to install the huge canvas pink triangle on the Twin Peaks hillside on Saturday, June 28, starting at 7 a.m. The pink triangle, staked to the hillside during Pride weekend, was the identifying symbol that gay men had to wear on their clothing in Nazi concentration camps in the 1930s and into the 1940s. The LGBT community has since taken on the pink triangle as their own symbol of pride.
The large pink triangle has been placed near the top of Twin Peaks every year since 1995…”
Right in the southeast sector of San Francisco near the waterfront, 28 adorable goats have become proud mamas, with most of them birthing twins. That’s right, in one of America’s largest cities, at the Port of San Francisco, there’s an industrious herd of almost 100 goats. They’ve been seen working hard to eradicate poison oak near the Presidio Gates, busily eating away invasive blackberry bushes in Bernal Heights, and happily removing ivy and weeds in residential back yards throughout the Bay Area.
City Grazing proudly announces the birth of 50 baby goats from 28 mothers over the past month. Twenty does (mothers) had twins, one had triplets, and seven had singles.
While the cuteness factor will be sky high over the next few months as these new arrivals play amongst themselves, they will soon be called into service to help prevent the impending fire hazard created by California’s worst drought on record. Goats are a useful ecological approach to fire prevention. In San Francisco, they also help to manage overgrown backyards, 3-5 goats at a time. As public awareness grows, so does City Grazing’s business. Our family of goats has evolved from urban backyard landscapers to hillside browsers as the need for natural weed and brush abatement has expanded. If the vegetation is green and growing rapidly from a sudden rain, or if it is dry and brown from lack of rainfall, the demand for goat grazing will be high.
To come photograph or film these urban goats, email City Grazing’s Goat
Whisperer, Genevieve Church: email@example.com.
We’re kidding, and you should see it!
A recent Tuesday, 11:44 a.m.: When she got a call from a co-worker that the babies were coming three weeks earlier than expected, Genevieve Church knew this was exactly the reason she had signed up to be a goat herder in San Francisco.
“I was like, ‘OK, here we go,’ and jumped out of the car and started caring for babies,” Church said. “That was Jan. 5, and I haven’t really looked back since.”
A week later, the herd at City Grazing – San Francisco’s only goat operation – was still growing and had hit 80. Thanks to Breeder, the buck Church brought onto the farm in Hunters Point in September, it will number well over 100 before too long.
Most of the kids and their mothers bonded immediately, but not all. One, Mary Rose, was abandoned. Spock, named for his pointy ears, and his twin brother, Marvin, were orphaned when their aging mother died. Augie and Buster had to be separated from their mother when she became too sick to care for them.
Church, 42, came to the rescue. Normally, her days are spent managing goats’ careers. When they are not being rented out five at time to residents with overgrown backyards, they are being booked for toddler birthday parties, commercials, movies and promotional events.
Now, however, she is devoting most of her time caring for the five kids in need. She bottle-feeds them, hoping they will gain strength and create a strong bond to humans, both of which are crucial to their survival. She’s having some success: Mary Rose’s mother, in particular, seems to have taken a renewed interest in her kid.
Church is always looking for the goats that have a photogenic edge. Spock may have a future in TV commercials, she said – he’s got classic alpine coloring and those distinctive ears.
“Working with animals is always controlled chaos, but I do well with that,” Church said. “I get bored if I’m not in a chaotic environment. I might whine and complain at times, but I know it’s what I do best.”
It was just a little more than a year ago that Church answered a Craigslist ad from David Gavrich, head of City Grazing’s three-human operation, looking for a goat herder. His only requirement was that applicants write a paragraph describing why they would be perfect for the job. “I just started laughing and thought, ‘I can do that,’ ” Church said. “The novelty of it is priceless.”
Church grew up on a 115-acre ranch in the Central Valley. She learned animal husbandry from her dad, who took care of 40 to 80 cattle as well as pigs and sheep. Raising animals is in her blood.
Despite her upbringing, Church went on to study art at California State University Fresno. She moved to San Francisco to be a tattoo artist in the early 1990s and later headed to Seattle to set up a glass-blowing business.
After she divorced and the economic crash shattered her glass business, Church headed back to San Francisco. She needed a fresh start; she found goats.
“I’m not sure why I find goats so compelling, but I do,” Church said. “If it had been an ad for a different kind of animal, I might not have replied with such enthusiasm. It’s such an unusual job to find in San Francisco, and it’s a great chance to get back to my roots and my childhood.”
To see a multimedia production of this piece, go to http://blog.sfgate.com/cityexposed. If you have ideas for the City Exposed, e-mail Mike Kepka at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KCBS Radio did a great job telling an urban-spaces story when we helped
SWA Group with their park-let during PARKing Day:
Here is the audio interview!
ANCHOR: It’s not every day you see goats grazing in San Francisco’s
financial district. Margie Shafer explains the international event
designed to draw attention to quality urban spaces.
Dan Affleck, SWA: So everything here is edible. We have hay, grass,
fennel, manzanita, all types of things goats like to eat.
KCBS: That’s Dan Affleck, with SWA landscape architects, a company well
known for creating the living roof on the Academy of Sciences in Golden
Dan: We specialize in urban design, so the whole idea here was to bring
the agricultural environment into the city, and make people more aware
of their surroundings.
KCBS: The goats are courtesy of City Grazing in the Bayview district
that provides grazing services. Genevieve Church is City Grazing
Genevieve Church: We do a lot of hillside backyards, a lot of hillier
neighborhoods in San Francisco. You don’t want to take it out by hand
but goats love nothing more than eating your fennel, your ivy, your
KCBS: The goats at this parklet are quite docile, too, not minding the
traffic….. or being petted.
In an announcement this morning, airport officials said that they would be using goats to create a firebreak on a stretch of an “environmentally sensitive area” on its West of Bayshore property. The land is home to two endangered species – the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog. Lately, goats have become a popular alternative to more invasive methods of keeping vegetation in check.The goats are veterans of the SFO gig – they trim the grass annually.
The goats will work north to south, and they’ll be tended by a goat herder and monitored by an environmental biologist to make sure they don’t disturb the endangered species.
SFO isn’t the only place in the Bay to employ goats: Google has done it, and local business City Grazing has dispatched its goats across the city, from the Exploratorium and San Francisco railroad tracks.
Goats and yoga rooms aren’t the only thing that might tip travelers off to the city’s distinct character. SFO is a travel hub, but in recent years has made moves to become a cultural hub – it has an accredited museum, hosts book readings and concerts, and its renovated Terminal 2 offers Acme baguettes and Cowgirl Creamery cheese.
Andy Wright runs The Bay Citizen’s Pulse of the Bay blog. Previously, Andy worked as the web editor at the SF Weekly and as the assistant culture and community editor for The Bay Citizen. A California native, she graduated from Antioch College in Ohio.
Yesterday, National Public Radio’s nationally syndicated audio show called “The Story” aired an interview they did last month with our Goat Whisperer, at the local KQED studios. The website for that is: www.thestory.org. If you go to that site, look for the March 23 program. You’ll want to click on “Listen To The Story”, and get to the Podtrac Player that allows you to fast-forward through to our story — “Mow, Mow, Mow Your Goat” starts at 24 minutes and runs for the rest of the 50-minute program. Last night we received a phone call from a dear friend in Los Angeles who said both he and his brother were blown away to hear the story on NPR radio on each of their drives home from work yesterday. What a fun surprise!
Listen to our interview on NPR’s “The Story” here: “Mow, Mow, Mow Your Goat”
In an industrial corner of San Francisco, the city is experimenting with an eco-friendly alternative to herbicides and lawn mowers. David Gavrich, president of the San Francisco Bay Railroad, decided to bring in a herd of 60 goats to keep the vegetation down around the tracks near Pier 96.
But that’s not all they’re good for: In addition to their work for the city, the goats sometimes venture out to residential neighborhoods to eat away blackberry bushes and poison oak. Gavrich calls the service “Rent-a-Goat.”
If you feel like giving your mower a break, Gavrich and the goats can be reached at 415-642-7170 or citygrazing.com.
Additional footage courtesy of the Exploratorium
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|People Destroying America- Goats Steal Landscaping Jobs|
The goats of City Grazing are featured on the Exploratorium’s “Science in the City”
“In an unlikely corner of industrial southeastern San Francisco, a herd of 60 goats gambol on a 10-acre site ringed by a rail yard and a cement recycling plant. Meet the movers and munchers behind City Grazing, a local “rent-a-goat” service that provides an ecological alternative to lawn mowers and herbicides. To learn more visit: http://citygrazing.com/”
For an average lawn, a mower works just fine, but for fire-prone slopes or polluted landfills, many cities turn to a rugged biological machine: the goat. We head to an odd San Francisco postindustrial farm to meet The GoatWhisperer and his herd.