They are the most unusual contract employees working on city property, and their work agreement shows it.
The employees were guaranteed to have “no history of kicking, biting, or head butting,” for one thing. While they would come with their own hay to eat, their employers would make sure to water them.
And the workers were expected to be surrounded by electric fences while they did their work, with only the occasional bleat.
The city of Boston released documents related to the “goatscaping” project in the West Street urban wild in Hyde Park after a public records request from the MuckRock website, which specializes in Freedom of Information requests.
The goatscaping project — in which four goats have been deployed to munch their way through 2 acres of invasive plants and poison ivy that had overtaken the wooded area — was undertaken by the Southwest Boston Community Development Corp. on land owned by the city, officials said.
Last month, officials from the group said grants covered the $2,800 cost of renting the goats.
The documents released by the city included the contract between the development group and the Goatscaping Co. of Plymouth.
The contract calls for the goats to chomp to the point where the “targeted vegetation . . . will be no more than 4 inches high, with the exception of woody stems or vines with stems one half centimeter or thicker.”
Since the end of July, the goats have have made “significant progress” in clearing the area of invasive plants, said Ryan Woods, director of external affairs at the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. “The site was once seen as an eyesore,” Wood said. “Now [the goats] have turned it into a place that people actually want to go to.”
Woods, in his response to the MuckRock request, also noted that “this project comes with no cost to the city of Boston.”
Community responses for call for volunteers
On July 7, 2014, community outreach members went door to door to pass out fliers announcing the goat landscaping project and to recruit children volunteers to help feed the four-legged mowers. Below is a collection of some of the responses.
|Interest in Volunteering||Comments|
|his wife will call or email||9 y.o. son, no concerns|
|no, but will think about it if noone can. Joked about eating||"we are all looking out for eachother"|
|son int. in feed/water, mom will clear out yard, let us know if any noise||invited me in, offered food and water, 4 dogs, excited!|
|okay w/ goats|
|will call if noise||wasn't feeling well, but excited about goats!|
|new baby - not lots of time||excited about project|
|interested in providing water||"whole neighborhood looks out for eachother"|
|interested in volunteering w/ family, and in party||"sounds fun" 3 y.o. son|
|had goats as kid, will call cops if noise||no concerns, feels good place is getting cleaned up|
|daycare, CONCERN about smell, will call if issue|
|6 y.o. son, mentioned people like to eat goats, suggested we make signs to stop people, give goats ankle bracelet|