The historic Glendale Steps (on Glendale Avenue, between Locust and Rand streets) will welcome a dozen grazing goats this weekend, July 12 and 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The goats will work behind a security fence while tending goat herders give impromptu workshops about animal husbandry and ecological stewardship of urban landscapes.
In order to encourage the goats to chomp like champs, local musicians and lively entertainers will be on hand to spur them on. Also on hand will be alpacas, who will help in the grazing duties.
The goats will be shepherded by “J.Z.’s Wild Bunch” 4H Club of Summit County. Firefighters from Akron’s Station #3 will be responsible for transporting the goats in and out of the gardens and running their hoses to keep them cool. Night guards from the West Hill Neighborhood Association will be stationed in the garden overnight to ensure the goats’ safety.
Historic Glendale Steps’ garden co-managers Tom Crain and Karen Edwards, working from a seed grant provided by the Akron Neighborhood Partnership program and Summit County Master Gardeners, found it impossible to access the main garden areas to restore and replant the steps to complete their dream goal of bringing a food forest to Downtown West Akron without employing expensive and environmentally-destructive chemicals and imposing machinery onsite. Then, they saw goats “mowing” and weed clearing the landscape of Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters and thought that might be the perfect solution to try locally.
“This project on the historic Glendale Steps is an outstanding example of how a neighborhood, the city, and local organizations and businesses can come together to work on innovative solutions to improve their community,” said Ward One Councilperson and sustainability champion Rich Swirsky.
Visitors during the Goat Graze are welcome to observe the goats up close and visit the various educational tent stations featuring ongoing sustainability demonstrations, nature crafts and sampling of goat products including cheeses, fudge and soaps, and snacks from fresh local food vendors. A farm animal petting zoo will feature kid goats and baby chicks.
Once the goats have cleared the gardens, the historic Glendale Steps will transform a key sector of West Downtown Akron into a food forest planted with berry patches, orchards and vineyards. Joining the already planted butterfly garden and three community gardens up top the steps, additional planted spaces will include a rain garden, perennial medicinal herb garden and Asian- style terraced garden.
Volunteers are still needed to stand watch over the gardens during the night. To volunteer, and find more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/684268661621928.