They’re Baaaaaaa….ck! Riverside Park Conservancy’s Weed-Eating Goats Arrived July 7th & Departing September 21st




Running with the Goats.. Image via Green Goats Farm

Riverside Park Conservancy’s weed-eating goats returned on July 7 – with some added job responsibilities. Starting with a special Goatham festival and ribbon cutting at the Conservancy’s new Compost Compound, they’ll spend the summer helping to educate the public about sustainability in Riverside Park.

Turning a page into Fall, a Goatham Farewell Ceremony will take place on Thursday, September 21st from 3:00 to 4:00pm at 120th Street and Riverside Drive.

Join Riverside Park Conservancy, volunteers and staff as they crown the GOAT of 2023. (Did you Vote?) RSVP for the Farewell Ceremony.

Running with the Goats  Image courtesy Riverside Park Conservancy

The goats’ much-anticipated return will mark the fourth year of the Conservancy’s Goatham Initiative, which aims to clear invasive plants from the steep western slopes of Riverside Park’s Forever Wild woodland between 119th and 122nd Streets. Undaunted by the treacherous terrain and loving the sweet taste of poison ivy and other invasives, the goats munch through aggressive growth nearly inaccessible to gardeners, making space for more ecologically suitable plantings in this crucial forested area.

The new Goatham Festival on July 7, from 11 AM – 2 PM, will provide the public with a chance to meet the four new goats – Charlie, Cowgirl, Mallomar and Chico – and learn more about their important jobs as members of the Conservancy’s Sustainability Team. Rather than simply running through the Park, the new 3-hour Festival will feature local vendor booths, live music, goat-themed merchandise, photo-ops, arts & crafts, and educational activities for all ages. Serving as ambassadors for the Conservancy’s larger eco-friendly practices, the goats will be the guests of honor at the “ribbon chewing” for the Conservancy’s new Compost Compound at 95th Street adjacent to the West Side Highway.

“We are so excited for the return of the goats this summer,” said Merritt Birnbaum, President and CEO of Riverside Park Conservancy. “They’re not only adorable weed-eaters, they’re also representatives of the sustainable practices the Conservancy embraces in all aspects of our work, from composting plant material, to creating new habitats for pollinators, to facilitating environmental education opportunities through our public programming.”

Riverside Park Conservancy is launching a new park-wide composting initiative to coordinate and increase on-site conversion of landscape waste into nutrient-rich compost. When operating at full capacity, the program is expected to return tons of organic material to the Park landscapes by allowing the leaves, clippings, and other plant material collected by Conservancy and NYC Parks staff during their normal maintenance operations to be processed at the newly equipped facility. This will minimize the amount of organic material from the Park ending up in landfills and reduce the need to purchase and truck in compost from external sites. Critical to the initiative’s success will be the program’s trained, on-site staff, who will oversee a healthy, closed-loop cycle.

The Compost Initiative is just one tenet of the Conservancy’s new Conservation and Sustainability Department, which was formed in 2022. The initiative focuses on several facets of urban park stewardship including tracking and expanding natural area conservation, reducing fossil fuel consumption and trash output, producing free public education programs, fostering citizen science opportunities, and participating in city-wide advocacy for park equity and environmental justice.

In addition to the opening ceremony at the new Compost Compound, the goats will be competing “hoof-to-hoof” all summer long. The season will culminate with a public “Vote-the-G.O.A.T.” contest and Awards ceremony in late September.

Fans are encouraged to follow the Conservancy’s social media platforms closely for details regarding the popular opening event, and can RSVP here.

Riverside Park Conservancy is hosting a farewell ceremony for the seven goats that served as sustainability am-baaaa-ssadors this summer as part of their Goatham program on September 21st from 3-4pm at Riverside Drive and 120th Street.

The weed-eating goats, estimated to have devoured approximately 7,000 pounds of invasive vegetation, are bidding farewell with a ceremony as they return to their home in Rhinebeck, NY. Join the Conservancy in celebrating the goats, plus the dedicated staff and volunteers who make the program possible, all while learning more about the Conservancy’s sustainability efforts.

With thousands of votes cast, the “Greatest of All Time” (GOAT) of 2023 will be crowned, alongside other awards. Goatham merch will be available for purchase.

2023 is the fourth year that a herd of goats have spent their summer in Riverside Park. Four goats, Charlie, Chico, Cowgirl, and Mallomar, arrived in the Park in early July, kicking off their sustainability duties by breaking ground at the Conservancy’s new Compost Compound. In response to the escalating threat of invasive species driven by extreme weather and climate change, three new additions joined the weed-eating crew: India, Lemon, and Templeton.

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