As early as a month from now, a herd of about 25 goats – along with a shepherd – will arrive at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and be put to work munching unwanted vegetation (i.e. weeds) from up to 120 acres of airport-owned land that is difficult to get to with traditional landscaping equipment.
O’Hare already has beehives, an aeroponic vegetable and herb garden inside the terminal and a host of other green initiatives underway, but last September it put out a request for bids seeking “sustainable vegetation management grazing services.”
The two-year, $100,000 contract was awarded to Central Commissary Holdings, LLC, which operates a restaurant in the city and keeps a small herd of goats nearby.
O’Hare is not the first airport to employ goats. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport have also hired goats and/or sheep to munch on unwanted vegetation.
And there are plenty of benefits:
Having goats eat weeds, poison ivy, and invasive plant species not only decreases landscape maintenance costs, reduces the use of heavy equipment and saves all that fuel that would be used for operating the mowing machinery, it provides an alternative to toxic herbicides and will be a fun way to draw attention to the airport’s environmental awareness.