The herd of weed-eating cashmere goats returned to Bear Creek Regional Park on Oct. 26, and they worked in the park for 10 days.
Approximately 500 goats ate brush and weeds to perform organic weed control on 20 acres of the park surrounding the Charmaine Nymann Community Garden. The gardeners have raised funds to bring the goats each year for the past 20 years to ensure that there is no need for weed-killing chemicals to be used near the organic vegetable garden.
Lani Malmberg and her son, Donny Benz, co-owners of Goat Green, manage the herd. “The goats prefer the dry vegetation first — leaves, weeds, and brush,” Lani said. “They’re browsers, not grazers like cows, and will only eat the green grass as a last resort. They like the dry prickly things and the herd will eat two to three tons a day. What they eat, they recycle — pure organic fertilizer — back into the soil. Plus, their 2,000 hooves work the soil, aerating and mulching as they go.”
The nonprofit Bear Creek Garden Association, which manages the community garden, raises about $10,000 per year to pay for the services provided by the goats. Hundreds of people visit the herd each year, and several school classes are brought to the park by their teachers to talk to the herders to learn more about the animals and organic weed control.
Goat lovers are encouraged to make tax-deductible donations to the Bear Creek Garden Association Goat Fund by sending them to P.O. Box 38326, Colorado Springs, CO 80937-8326.