Ramin Rahimian for The Bay Citizen 60 City Grazing goats graze the rail yard of the Port of San Francisco in the Bayview Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco on Thursday, January 5, 2012 Source: The Bay Citizen (http://s.tt/1glSb)
By Andy Wright, Bay Citizen
At San Francisco International Airport you’ll see the usual airport bars and fast-food outposts, but you’ll also see a yoga room – and maybe goats. Or, as SFO terms it, an “organic weed abatement program.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
There’s nothing goats love more than a clean house…Well maybe some dry oak leaves. Yesterday Carla and I took advantage of the wet weather to do a much needed hose-out of the trailer and lay down fresh wood shavings. A couple of these pillows would make it nice and cozy too.
Next time I’ll try to remember to take a before picture. Yowsa.
Date: Thur, February 17, 2011 Time: 1:30 PM Location: City Hall, San Francisco
Thanks to the hard work of many people, last month the City officially announced a proposal that, if passed, will update San Francisco’s zoning regulations to explicitly permit gardening in all areas of the city and also officially allow for the sale of produce grown in these gardens. Whoo-hoo!
The more people who are present at City Hall for the review of this proposal, the more apparent it is to the Planning Commission that residents of San Francisco value agriculture as a vital part of our city.
We feel strongly that in order for agriculture to be a lasting fixture in our city, made up of a diverse mix of people, skills and backgrounds, there has to be a way for urban farmers to make a living.
These warm days are great for taking the goats out. Today they played King of the Mountain on some rubble. We saw a shiny emerald hummingbird in the fennel stalks and two red-tailed hawks circling the concrete piles and lights. Poppies are popping and the sourgrass flowers add some color to the goats forage as well.
HORRAY FOR BARN RAISING …. AND WELDING! The guys who work at the Railroad have made a lot of progress in the last few weeks getting the new site of the goat pen ready. Designed by ReBar, the structure is combines a shipping container and a high hoop-house top to centralize the herd’s shelter, hay storage, and other official goat herding business. We dream of electricity in our ‘barn,’ cozy stalls for the goats, and maybe even a surface to put down our coffees that’s not covered in hay. Just west of the site is the long stretch of land for browsing, so once we make the move, the goats won’t have to scurry around the maze of rail cars, tracks, and lumber piles when we take them out. Also, a friend is keeping bees out that-a-way.