If you’re out for an Instagram photo shoot or attending Friday Nights events at Camp North End, you might notice an oddity. Goats.
They are roaming a fenced-in area between Camp North End Drive and the railroad tracks on the property, a 76-acre historic industrial site undergoing redevelopment to create a community for creative office spaces, events, public art, film shoots and more.
The developer, ATCO Properties & Management, placed two goats inside the fence Tuesday night. They’re being rented from a North Carolina goat farmer and they have one mission: To demolish the invasive kudzu that has taken over parts of the property. The plant can kill or harm other plants by covering them with leaves.
Damon Hemmerdinger of ATCO came up with the idea to try the goat tactic, unleashing them on the property to eat the kudzu rather than dumping large amounts of roundup in multiple cycles to do the same work. The goat method is also less costly, he said.
“It’s quirky,” he said, “but it’s out there as something people are trying.”
Even as far back as 2007, Chattanooga’s Public Works Department set goats out to roam a section of the Missionary Ridge to eat the vines as an environmentally friendly approach to the widespread problem in the South.
In 2011, Davidson College brought in 30 goats to tackle their kudzu growth on the cross country paths around campus. The announcement cited that goats can easily eat 12 to 18 pounds of kudzu daily and not gain weight.
The goats at Camp North End will likely stick around for several months to work at the kudzu, with their handlers (from a team led by placemaker Alex Smith of ATCO) periodically shifting the fencing and checking on the animals. There’s a goat cam too, to monitor the action. The goat number is expected to rise to five in the coming weeks.
And if you do see the goats in the fenced-in area, beware of the electric fence. Look, don’t touch.
“They are adorable and we love them,” Hemmerdinger said, “but it’s not a petting a zoo. They are working.”
Cuteness to the rescue.
Photos: Alex Smith