We Put The Goat in Goatham
The goats were baaaaaack for the summer of 2022! With neck-in-neck voting results, Cheech was crowned the G.O.A.T. of this year.
The New York City nickname Gotham – meaning “goat town” in Old English – was popularized by Washington Irving in 1807. Though originally meant as a put-down, New Yorkers embraced the name. “Goat town” was an apt description of the undeveloped Upper West Side where goats used to roam.
Today, it applies once again.
In 2019, Riverside Park Conservancy brought a herd of goats to Gotham, to create Goatham – a hard-to-access area in the northern part of the Park. The goats, who have all retired from former careers, are from a local farm. They have taken up residency for the summer on sloped terrain that is rife with invasive plants. Since goats are naturally effective weed whackers, putting than to work in Goatham is like treating them to an all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s hearty for the goats and good for the environment.
And on July 14, 2021, the goats came b-a-a-a-a-a-a-ck. The “Fabulous Five” remained for the summer, and the Conservancy offered New Yorkers a chance for a ranked choice vote in its vote-the-GOAT election.
In 2022, the goats came baaaaack again! The four goats — Big G, Cheech, Elenor, and Skittles — participated in “Riverside’s Go(a)t Talent”, a talent show that captivated all the goat fans of New York City.
As part of our Woodland Restoration Initiative, Riverside Park Conservancy has spent countless hours of volunteer and staff time over the last 15 years to control invasive species in our Bird Sanctuary. Substantial progress has been made from 116th to 119th Streets, and along the West Side Highway north of the 119th Street Tennis Courts.
Unfortunately, it has been difficult to make progress in areas with steep slopes. Some of the species of plants that have proven most difficult to control are Porcelain Berry, English Ivy, Mugwort, Multiflora Rose and Poison Ivy, among several other species. These plants and vines have dominated two acres of the degraded woodland that we are working to improve.
Riverside Park’s goats are like a herd of full-time professional weeding staff. They are able to traverse difficult, hard-to-reach places, and can also gulp down poison ivy without a second thought. This frees up human hands — and significant portions of time — to work on other components of restoration.
Goats and their giant appetites have been widely used by farmers, and recently, by nearby parks to assist in controlling and suppressing the growth of these detrimental invasive plants. Not only to goats eat almost constantly — they can consume 25% of their own body weight in vegetation in just one day — but their fecal matter adds nutrients to the soil as they go. It’s an all around win — a sustainable, chemical-free method of removing invasive species from a landscape.
We have hosted goats for three summer seasons – first in 2019, in 2021, and again in 2022. They roam a two-acre area — within a fenced enclosure — located between approximately 119th to 125th Streets, feasting all the while.
Throughout the season, the goats continuously consume the weeds all the way down to the roots, which stunts the plants’ normal growth trajectory by making them start all over — only to be eaten again. After a few seasons of eating, the plants’ ability to grow will have been weakened, and perhaps eliminated altogether.
Please contact us for ways to get involved.
The aggressive greens taking over Goatham can harm local plant species, deplete the soil’s nutrients, disturb nesting sites and affect water flow and retention. So, by munching away month after month, Goatham’s goats should prove to be an effective, economical and pesticide-free way to sustain the Park’s ecosystem.
Goats In The Press
- The New Yorker: “The Crisis Called for Goats”
- The New York Times: “A park calls in the goats”
- Travel + Leisure: “A Herd of Goats Will Call New York City’s Riverside Park Home This Summer — Here’s Why”
- NY Daily News: “Weed consumption in Riverside Park expected to spike this spring”
- Gothamist: “Goatham City: A Herd Of Goats Will Munch On Riverside Park All Summer”
- CBS: “New York City park welcomes goats for weed-eating”
- Time Out: “Dozens of goats will be roaming Riverside Park this summer”
- West Side Rag: “The 24 Riverside Park Goats Are Becoming Famous, and Have Now Been Profiled By The New Yorker”
- NY1: “Why 24 Goats are Now Roaming Riverside Park”
- CBS NY: Goats Arrive in Riverside Park
- Observer: “This Summer’s Best First-Date Idea? Chillin’ With Goats in Riverside Park.”
- Untapped Cities: Photos: A Herd of Hungry Goats Turns NYC’s Riverside Park into “Goatham”
- Asia One: “Two dozen goats eat their way through NYC’s Riverside Park to help clear out invasive plants”
- Inside Edition: “Hungry Goats Get Jobs as Summer Interns at New York City Park”
- NY1 Noticias: “Traen cabras a parque de manhattan para que acaben con la maleza que destruye el parque”
- New York Post: “UWS goats too good at their job hit with layoffs”
- NBCNY: “Game of Goats: Voters Decide Which Riverside Park Goats Get Laid Off”
- AMNY: “Riverside Park goat Massey named the G.O.A.T. in medal ceremony”
- I Love the Upper West Side: “And the Goat Vote is in…”
- ABC7NY: “Goats honored for being baaaa-est of herd that eats invasive plants in Riverside Park, Manhattan”
- The New York Times: Have You Herd? The Goats Are Back at Riverside Park.
- The NY Post: Dozens of weed-munching goats set free in Upper West Side Park – no kidding!
- NY Daily News: 2021 Running of the Goats in NYC
- The Washington Post: Invasive plants were too much for humans to handle in an NYC park. Enter the goats.
- NPR: Two dozen goats were brought into New York City’s Riverside Park on July 14 to help curtail the spread of invasive plants.
- ABC7NY: Goats Race Through Manhattan’s Riverside Park as weed whacking herd returns
- NBC New York: Riverside Park’s “Running of the Goats”
- NY1 Noticias: Regresan las cabras al Riverside Park – el público puede eligir su favorita
- Pix11: NY goats get to work eating brush in Riverside Park to help protect green space
- Reuters: ‘They’re baaaaack’: Two dozen goats eat their way through New York park
- AMNY: They’re baaaack: Goats return to Riverside Park
- Yahoo News: ‘They’re Baaaaaaaack!’ Goats Unleashed to Tackle Invasive Plants in New York’s Riverside Park
- West Side Rag: Goats Run to Glory In Front of Adoring Crowd
- Patch: SEE IT: ‘Running of the Goats’ Returns to Riverside Park
- West Side Spirit: Goats Run Wild in Riverside Park
- South China Morning Post: ‘Weed whacking’ goats roam to the rescue in New York City’s overgrown Riverside Park
- NBC New York: New York goats get to pig out on unwanted Riverside Park undergrowth
- Nature World News: Dozens of Goats Set Free in New York Park to Munch Invasive Weed Species
- Eco Watch: ‘They’re Baaaaack’: Goats Brought to NYC Park to Munch on Invasive Species
- WFMU: Bad Animals With Amanda and Jim the Poet
- New York Street: NYC “Running of the Goats”
- City & State NY: This week’s biggest Winners & Losers
- NY Post: Goats chow down: Post’s week in photos
- Landscape Architecture NZ: Riverside Park goats
- The New York Times: Beach Bums Unite!
- I Love the Upper West Side: Riverside Park Goat Launches Smear Campaign Against Competition
- West Side Rag: Rookie Goat Runs Negative Ad in Riverside Park’s Annual ‘Vote the G.O.A.T.’ Election; Conservancy Head ‘Deeply Troubled’
- I Love the Upper West Side: Only One Goat Truly Matters
- Patch: Chalupa Out Duels Field To Win Riverside Park Goat Of The Year
- West Side Rag: Chalupa Elected Riverside Park 2021 G.O.A.T.; Bo Peep Has Lost…