Goats are a rare sight in town. Because of this, the group of 56 goats who tend the lawns in Heritage Heights have a dual role and act as animators for residents and other locals.
“It really made people out,” said John Enns, a Heritage Heights resident. “And not just from the neighborhood here. During COVID this was a great way to chat and we were just very amused by her. They have such personality and character, so they bring us a lot of laughter, a little bit of joy in the downtime. It was good.”
Daryl Martin, CEO of South Country Village, where Heritage Heights is located, believes in making environmentally conscious choices. He explained that the resident’s building included three different types of green thinking, including geothermal heating and cooling, rooftop solar panels, and a type of piping that re-uses gray water before it’s all sent to the city’s water treatment plant. The desire for an environmentally friendly lawn has therefore become a matter of course for Martin.
Roxanne Doerksen, owner and founder of TRAD, a local worming company specializing in regenerative agriculture, came up with the idea of planting the field in front of Heritage Heights with a mixture of native grasses instead of the usual grass on residential lawns. Doerksen’s mother lives in the South Country Village and Doerksen “wanted her to have a beautiful place to live that is honored to be good stewards of our planet.”
Doerksen says she chose the seed mix so that the lawn would look natural with different colors, textures, and types.
“The mix of grasses was chosen very carefully,” says Doerksen. “We have a mixture of warm-weather grasses and cold-weather grasses.”
Doerksen believes in “the beauty of a cultivated green space” and still uses the principles of regenerative agriculture that she is so interested in personally and professionally.
“We will try to use this (experiment) as a benchmark to show that civil and communal recultivation using regenerative agriculture methods is realistic,” said Doerksen.
The field in front of Heritage Heights was sown in spring 2020. In addition to a healthy variety of native grasses, harmful weeds also got into the mix. Then Doerksen came up with the idea of including goats in the lawn development without artificial or fertilizers. Doerksen contacted her longtime friend, Heather Hart, of the Hart Goat Ranch, which Heather runs with her husband Rob and their four children.
“Roxanne contacted us to ask if she could use our goats as lawn mowers to eat up all the grass and weeds,” Hart said. “Especially the weeds. And goats think weeds are candy, they love it. ”
In the cycle of foraging and re-fertilizing the soil they harvest, goats are particularly useful for weeding the lawn, Hart explained. Their unique digestive system breaks down the seeds of the weeds so they don’t re-sow in the ground.
There is always someone in the field to help manage the goats and move around the fenced area and the Hart family have noticed many people enjoy them.
“We have a lot of regulars who come every day,” said Hart. “We have people who just grab a Tim Hortons or a Starbucks and just sit there for hours. There are people from the South Country Village who all pull down their chairs and come to visit us. ”
A couple who live at the front of the building enjoy watching the goats from their balcony and coming down every evening as the goats get more active in the cooler evenings.
“The goats are not only cute, I also think it’s a great idea that they are here,” says the tenant. “All the grass that is planted outside is indigenous and when these people come and just eat it and mow it, I think it’s a wonderful idea instead of using chemicals. We get free entertainment and are kind to the earth. “