Goats Are Eating Up the Invasive Ivy at Pony Pasture 

click to enlarge Goats are helping to rid the James River Park system of invasive plants such as ivy.

Scott Elmquist

Goats are helping to rid the James River Park system of invasive plants such as ivy.

Not the worst gig a goat can get.

Three goats at Pony Pasture are taking a break in the shade Saturday while they wait for their first course of winter creeper to settle.

Eating such invasive plants helps demonstrate their prowess at getting rid of pesky growth. At the river park, they chomp away at the aggressive ivy that has crept up the trees and would suffocate everything in sight if given the chance.

“I think of the goats as a SEAL team,” says Kristi Orcutt, owner of RVA Goats. “I send them in to get the poison ivy, the briars -- they’re not fazed by it.”

Human volunteers can sweep in afterward to get the rest, Orcutt says.

The goats are three of 27 available to rent from Orcutt to tackle invasive species or to help with old-fashioned mowing.

“Just the sheer effort to remove all of these invasive plants is almost overwhelming,” says Kitty Hardt, a master naturalist and Richmond tree steward. Her group has been working for several months now and cleared only two areas.

Hardt hopes the goats will help ease the burden and bring attention to the struggles between native plants and invasive ones.

“This area here is like an ivy desert,” she says. “Over time it kills everything. Even the smaller trees won’t survive, and it doesn’t allow any new trees to grow.”

Hardt surmises someone planted winter creeper in a yard up the hill. It climbed a tree and grew berries, which birds ate and spread downhill. Ivy also hastens the death of host trees, she says.

“Do not plant ivy,” she warns. “If you do plant ivy, never let it grow up a tree.”

Not that the goats mind the winter creeper buffet.

Orcutt says this is the goats’ first time eating this particular ivy. “I took it home to get their palates used to it a few days in advance.”

After that, goat peer pressure takes over and it’s a race to eat all the ivy they can, Orcutt says. Digestion breaks excluded.


Latest in News and Features


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

  • On the Street Where We Live

    On the Street Where We Live

    Tight-knit Springhill in South Richmond reacts to new realities and hunkers down for uncertain days.
    • Mar 31, 2020
  • Shelter from the Storm

    Shelter from the Storm

    Will responses from shelters, landlords and service providers be enough to protect the vulnerable homeless population during a global pandemic?
    • Mar 24, 2020
  • How Bad Will It Get?

    How Bad Will It Get?

    VIDEO: An interview with Virginia’s state epidemiologist, Dr. Lillian R. Peake.
    • Mar 24, 2020
  • New Normal

    New Normal

    A look back at a historic week that Richmonders won’t forget as the coronavirus changes life as we know it.
    • Mar 24, 2020
  • More »

Copyright © 2020 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation