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20 new, furry students will wander Aquinas College’s campus this summer

Goats are coming to Aquinas College this weekend for a first-of-its-kind project.
Credit: Sean Giggy
A goat spots the camera at Lake Forest Park in Denton. The city has been using goats to clear and eat overgrowth in the park.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Approximately 20 goats will be coming to Aquinas College’s campus for a first-of-its-kind program from July 17-23. The goats will be grazing invasive species and removing unwanted plants on campus.

The college’s administration decided to use goats for the project in hopes of promoting sustainability.

“Sustainability is part of Aquinas College’s identity, and we wanted to find an eco-friendly way to handle undesired growth on campus while being good stewards of our campus and our creek,” said Jessica Eimer Bowen, director of sustainability at Aquinas.

“This project uses sustainable landscape management as an alternative to the use of herbicides and equipment that uses fossil fuels and pollutes the air.”

The program is unique to Grand Rapids, as city ordinance prohibits the use of goats or other livestock for landscaping purposes. Aquinas worked with the Grand Rapids Urban Agriculture Committee to create a pilot project that could inform future regulations.

The herd of goats will graze two areas on campus, Aquinas reports: The wooded area in front of the Academic Building and the wooded area between Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel and the Theatre Arts Annex, along Coldbrook Creek.

The goats will be contained to these areas through solar-powered electric fences. Organizers will be on site to monitor them and move the group from patch to patch.

Goats in particular are perfect for the task, as they prefer eating invasive plants and remove them directly from the root. Their digestive systems also destroy the seeds so that they’re not replanted through their manure. They are capable of clearing about half an acre in six days.

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