ELIOT, Maine — Do you ever crave something green to eat? How about a delicious serving of poison ivy? Well, it might not be that appealing to the appetite of humans but it sure is to goats. They love it.
Last week, seven goats munched their way through thousands of leaves and tall vines in the woods behind Eliot Elementary School. Principal Maureen Goering is excited about those goats and what they can do for future education at the school.
“We’d like to initiate an outdoor classroom learning experience on the trails back there,” Goering said. “A curriculum is being created but one of the obstacles we were faced with was all the poison ivy and our PEEPs [Partnership of Eliot Elementary Parents] got on board and came up with a great idea to move forward.”
“When my kids started coming here, I wanted more of an outdoor experience for them and when we learned of all the land back there and the overgrown trails, we did some research and came up with goats to get rid of the ivy,” said Lauren Dow of Partnership of Eliot Elementary Parents. “We found Scape Goats in Kennebunk, which is an eco-friendly brush and land clearing company. They provided the goats, which are secured by an electric fence. All we had to do is water them and keep moving the fence as they devoured the poison ivy.”
The goats were on the property for a week with staff coming once a day to check on their progress.
The Scape Goats website states: “Goats and other grazing animals have been used for centuries for land management. Goats provide an eco-friendly way to eliminate invasive plants from your property. Goats will eat vegetation that other livestock won’t touch and are able to clear brushy areas that are inaccessible to heavy equipment. Some of the invasive plants, which can be eliminated are multiflora rose, bittersweet, poison ivy, sumac, Japanese knotweed, English ivy, garlic mustard, dandelion, kudzu, ailanthus, Japanese honeysuckle, mile-a-minute and more.”
“Instead of bringing the students off the property, we will bring the professionals here,” Goering said. “For instance, they will be bringing an arborist in so they can learn about trees and the beetles that harm them and things that are good for them. We also would like to expand our maple sugaring program where kids tap the trees and go through the process of producing the syrup. We’ve had that program in place for years but now we can expand.”
Related: Goats are the new landscapers