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Farm Friends Help Beaumont Kudzu Clean-Up

Thank you to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and reporter Samantha Swann for this November 9, 2019 article on our goat project.

The top of the hill behind the baseball field at Adams Park in Beaumont Village Neighborhood is mostly empty, save for a few patches of dead vines and two paddocks filled with goats.

Yes, goats — nine to be exact and a two-month-old pig. According to Trees Coalition project manager Anthony Radziewicz, the animals are responsible for the speedy transformation of the formerly overgrown park.

“In some places, (the kudzu) reached up about to my head, so about 5 feet tall of just kudzu and they leveled it out fairly quickly,” Radziewicz said. “The plan is to let them do their eating and then we’ll be planting some grasses and trees restoring this ground and really giving back to Beaumont. It’s a really under-served community, and we thought this was a great site. This is the one little park that they have, so we thought that if we could add some space to it, it would really benefit the community.”

The goats are being used as an eco-friendly alternative to herbicides and are less invasive — and less expensive — than hiring heavy machinery to dig up the invasive vines. The goats can also eat away kudzu growing in difficult to treat spots, like the ravine from the crest of the hill to the creek below where the slope makes it difficult to maneuver machines and herbicides can’t be used because of the potential for water contamination.

“It’s been around for centuries, using goats for brush clearing — kudzu has been one there’s been some studies on — and there’s really great results,” Radziewicz said. “There was one article that said one of the presidents used goats for taking care of the brush at the White House many, many years ago. So, it’s been around, it’s almost like a forgotten method, and its cost is comparable and a little bit less expensive than using traditional methods of herbicide and heavy machinery.”

Jeff Dobbins, owner of Boer Trax Acres, a farm in Woodruff, said he was initially surprised when Radziewicz approached him about borrowing some of his goats. “We’ve raised goats a little over 15 years now and never have done anything like this,” Dobbins said. “So when Anthony called, I thought he was trying to buy some goats, and then when he explained what he was doing, I thought he was really crazy.” But once he and Radziewicz discussed the project and came out to the park, Dobbins could see that the goats were a good solution.

“You could see the need. It was significant the coverage of the kudzu over the natural habitat,” Dobbins said. “Our goal is to keep 10-14 goats in each spot, depending on how large each area is.” The goats are South African Boer goats, and they’ve adjusted well to their temporary new home said Dobbins.

“Kudzu, for livestock in general, has a very high nutrient value,” Dobbins said. “This, for us, provides basically their food source for the time that they’re out here. They really like it, it’s kind of like candy for a goat.”

The young pig was recently brought in to help with the clean up effort by the goats by digging around the roots of the vines. Dobbins and Radziewicz plan to bring in more pigs as the goats continue their work clearing the hillside and ravine. The goat-fueled kudzu clean-up was sponsored in part by a grant from Duke Energy. The grant gave the Trees Coalition $5,000 to put toward a project to help under-served neighborhoods.“We reached out to them, and they found it to be a good idea,” Radziewicz said.

The goat project will also benefit Partners for Active Living, who will be putting in a new connector trail through the area as part of the citywide trail system, The Daniel Morgan Trail System, or “The Dan.” Radziewicz said PAL had been a great supporter of the project since it began. “It makes a big difference,” said Liz Perry, operations and projects coordinator with PAL of the work that has been done. She noted that with the plans to add the Lower Drayton trail into The Dan, the kudzu would cause maintenance issues, needing to be cleared off the trail very often, especially during the summer.

By eliminating the kudzu now, it will allow for a better landscape along the trail — better sightlines into the woods and the introduction of native foliage. Perry said the chance to clear land in a gentle way — and land in a not-so-central area that PAL was already planning to develop — made the project a good fit for Adam’s Park. “I can see this being expanded in a lot of different areas,” Perry said.

And expansion is already being discussed. Radziewicz said they also plan to take the goats to clear brush and kudzu in the Park Hills and South Converse neighborhoods and are discussing taking them to Hampton Heights as well. “Everybody seems to really like the idea. It’s eco-friendly and people would much rather look at goats than heavy machinery,” Radziewicz said. “The (Beaumont) neighborhood has definitely been enjoying the addition. A lot of parents bring their kids out to look at the goats; it’s definitely been a sight.”

Funds for the

Trees Coalition’s goat kudzu clean-ups are still being raised. Anyone interested in donating to the project can do so by mailing a donation to the Trees Coalition, P.O. Box 6835, Spartanburg, SC, 29304 or in person at the Partners for Active Living office, 226 S Spring St., specifying that it is for the goat project.

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