Mar 6, 2023 - News

Grazing goats work to prevent fires in San Francisco

Grazing goats at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's yard near Masonic and Euclid Avenues. Photo courtesy of City Grazing

Fire season isn't here yet, but a herd of goats is helping San Francisco prepare for it.

Why it matters: Goat grazing is one of the easiest ways to address the overgrowth that can lead to fires, as goats can eat weeds and a range of invasive brush that other animals cannot, Genevieve Church, executive director of nonprofit City Grazing, told Axios.

Driving the news: San Francisco's school district has recently turned to City Grazing to help with its fire prevention efforts.

  • The goats finished up at June Jordan School for Equity in the Excelsior last month and are currently at Thurgood Marshall Academic High School, which shares its land with Willie L. Brown Jr. Middle School in the Bayview, Church said.
  • The goats are heading to at least two elementary schools later this year.

What they're saying: "It's fun to put animals intentionally into school campuses in urban settings," said Church, who noted that bringing goats to schools enables kids to learn about sustainability.

  • Meanwhile, goat grazing is an economical and environmentally friendly option to manage the land, a spokesperson for San Francisco Unified School District told Axios via email.
  • Goats, for example, eat the brush and weeds and then excrete nutrients back into the soil.

State of play: In 2022, City Grazing's roughly 125 goats grazed 53 acres of land across 46 sites in the city.

  • In addition to SFUSD, City Grazing works with a number of agencies and companies throughout San Francisco, including the city's public utilities commission, parks department, trash servicer Recology and the University of San Francisco.

What to watch: City Grazing is developing an educational program to support teachers who may want to further educate their students about the benefits of goat grazing.

  • The goal is to "inspire kids to work sustainability into their thought processes, in everything," Church said. "It's key to us continuing as a species."

The bottom line: During the pandemic, City Grazing inadvertently helped to create public gathering spaces around goat grazing, Church said.

  • "Watching goats eat is incredibly soothing when you're watching the world fall apart and can't really go anywhere," she said.

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