Goatham 2019. Photo © 6sqft
Next week, 24 weed-eating goats will return to Riverside Park. On Wednesday, July 14, the animals will arrive for the Riverside Park Conservancy’s second-ever “Running of the Goats,” where the public can see them run from their truck to a weed-filled hill at 120th Street. Five of the goats will then remain for the duration of the summer and campaign to be the G.O.A.T., for which the public can vote-the-GOAT using a “new and heretofore untested ranked-choice voting system.”
The entire event is called Goatham, a play on the city’s nickname Gotham, which actually means “goat town” in Old English. It began in 2019, as a hard-to-access area of the park was overrun with invasive species like poison ivy, bittersweet, and wineberry, all of which can harm local plant species, deplete the soil’s nutrients, disturb nesting sites, and affect water flow and retention.
The “retired” goats come from a local farm. As the Conservancy explains, “Since goats are naturally effective weed whackers, putting than to work in Goatham is like treating them to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s hearty for the goats and good for the environment.” In addition, goats are big eaters–they can consume 25-percent of their own body weight in vegetation in just one day–and their fecal matter adds nutrients to the soil. The “Fabulous Five” goats will spend the summer on a two-acre piece of land from approximately 119th to 125th Streets.
The inaugural Goatham in 2019 also saw 24 goats at the park. They came from Green Goats farm in Rhinebeck, which has actually been loaning its goats to parks across the country for 14 years. (Goats were previously used for weed maintenance in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Prospect Park.)
On Wednesday, July 14, the Running of the Goats will take place at 11am at 120th Street. To mark the occasion, there will be a live band that includes saxophone duo Peter and Will Anderson, speeches from elected officials, and the singing of “Lonely Goatherd,” performed by New York’s own women’s choir, SoHarmoniums. The event is free and open to the public; you can register here >>
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