They’re baaaaaack — Governors Island’s favorite fluffy farm animals are returning to bring the island some much-needed lawn maintenance.
For the third year in a row, a small flock of sheep is returning to Governors Island to eat mugwort, phragmites and other invasive species that are growing on the island. By allowing sheep to take on this duty, the Island’s horticultural team is freed up to take on other important tasks.
“This will be the third year the sheep will be coming down to help us mow mugwort and phragmites,” said Leo Frampton, Gardener and at the Trust for Governors Island. “As always, these animals will give me and my team more time to do what we love (gardening) by spending each day doing what they love (eating). They will help us maximize the ecological benefits of Hammock Grove, as it continues to grow into a fully formed urban forest that all New Yorkers can escape to.”
Like in years past, the sheep will be on loan from the Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm. Three of the sheep — Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries — are here for their third season, and joining the herd for the first time this summer are Bowie, recognizable by his dark brown wool coat, and Jupiter, recognizable by the white spot on his nose.
“Ewe better believe we are excited to welcome baaaaack our flock of wooly friends to Governors Island,” said Clare Newman, President & CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. “This innovative landscaping program is not only a great benefit to our Island’s plants but to our visitors as well, who always enjoy seeing the sheep in action. We are thrilled that two new faces are joining us this year but will note that Bowie and Jupiter are under pressure to live up to the work performance of their family, who have become landscaping heroes and enjoy considerable fame.”
“Baa! Baa! Baaaaa! Baaaaaaaaaaaaa!,” said Bowie and Jupiter in a joint statement when asked about their excitement to spend their summer on Governors Island.
Though the sheep are munching on their favorite snacks, they are actually doing a very important job. Mugwort, phragmites and other invasive plant species have a competitive nature and crowd other plants, so by eating these plants, the sheep are preventing them from growing.
“We are excited to be back on Governors Island this year, introducing new animals to this amazing place and expanding their grazing services,” said Kim Tateo, Executive Director and Farm Manager of Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm. “It’s been so great to see how the sheep have helped to improve the plant diversity in Hammock Grove, and to connect that work with the rest of our flock upstate. We can’t wait for Island visitors to learn more about these animals this summer, and hope everyone will join our herding demonstrations—where visitors will be able to experience live sheep herding and learn all about the importance of their wool and its different uses.”
“The days are getting warmer, the flowers are blooming, and the sheep are coming back to Hammock Grove! I applaud the team at Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve for taking good care of Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries this past winter, and the Governors Island team for preparing Hammock Grove for their return, and welcoming Bowie and Jupiter into the fold. I’m glad New York has had the wool pulled from its eyes regarding just how helpful the flock can be to decrease invasive species, and I look forward to visiting our sheep this summer with my family,” said New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes.
“I was thrilled when I herd [pun] that Manhattan’s favorite summer residents and natural gardeners were returning,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “The Governors Island sheep are an innovative and beloved approach to sustainable, zero-waste landscaping. New Yorkers: Ewe better stop by Hammock Grove to see these four-legged horticulturalists in action.”
Throughout the summer, Governors Island will host sheep herding demonstrations in partnership with Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm, as well as live sheep herding and hands-on wool activities. For more information, visit www.govisland.org/things-to-do.