Tim Bishop is looking for goats. He’ll take sheep too.

Bishop, Fairfield’s conservation director, hopes he can get a local farmer to lease a herd of goats and/or a flock of sheep to graze eight acres in Hoyden’s Hill Open Space Area.

Goats provide a safe and natural method of weed control.

The goats or sheep would be busy five months of the year eating mugwort, an invasive plant that grows in the open space area instead of the town having to kill it with harmful herbicides.

“The plan is to graze it between May and September and rotate the field to control the invasive mugwort,”said Bishop. “It will accomplish a few things: control the mugwort and prevent the need to spray the mugwort with herbicide.”

Bishop announced his project a few months ago after gaining the town’s approval. But he still hasn’t found a farmer interested in leasing the land. He was hoping to have a lease signed by May.

“I think it’s a win-win. After the grazing term, we’ll implement a planting of native meadow plants like goldenrod, or just a complete pollinator.” Pollinator pathways are pesticide-free corridors of native plants that provide nutrition and habitat for pollinating insects and birds.

The willing farmer would pay the town $1 to use the field. The goats or sheep would graze inside a portion of land secured by a solar-powered fence. Llhamas will protect them during the night from coyotes and foxes. Fairfield would also provide the animals with water. 

Bishop said goats are natural weed whackers. They eat anything in front of them while sheep are a bit more selective.

“I don’t have a preference because I think they’ll accomplish the same thing, but I leave that expertise up to the farmer,” he said.

Using goats to graze land is growing in popularity throughout New England. Last year, dozens of goats chomped through invasive plants on McKeon Farm in Ridgefield. Bedford in Westchester County has also used goats and sheep to graze land.

Hoyden’s Hill Open Space Area consists of 58 acres that include a golf driving range, agricultural fields, and trails for hiking. The goats or sheep would graze on eight acres of the property that are off the beaten path and not used by dogs and hikers, said Bishop.

If the project takes off it could be used for educational purposes and in other spaces in the city, he said.

To view a copy of the lease click here. For further questions contact Bishop at tbishop@fairfieldct.org or (203) 256-3071.

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