This month, Kanuga welcomed a local goat herd to serve as weed-eaters. “Goatscaping” is re-emerging as a popular alternative to the use of the expensive and harmful chemicals that cause negative impacts on the environment. In keeping with the stereotype, goats will eat almost anything. And as it turns out, they find Kudzu to be a culinary delight.

The advantages for Kanuga’s forests are abundant: 

  • No pesticides!
  • No gas-powered tools!
  • No harmful emissions!
  • Goatscaping is less expensive than other more high-maintenance solutions.
  • Goats can graze in rough, steep, and other hard-to-maintain areas.
  • The herd provides natural fertilizer, which they stomp into the soil.
  • Between the grinding of goats’ teeth and their four-chambered stomachs, plant seeds rarely survive the digestive process.
  • Goats can safely eat even the most menacing of invasive species, including burning nettle, poison ivy, and poison sumac.
  • Their work is thorough, reducing the risk of forest fires.
  • Goats are very low-maintenance.

Kanuga’s herd of six, from Mountain Goatscapes farm in Barnardsville, NC, is busy working on a strip of wooded land along the camp side of Kanuga Lake Road that is densely populated with Kudzu, popularly but not so lovingly referred to as, “the vine that ate the South.” Kudzu upsets ecosystems by blocking sunlight from other plants and trees and is also a leading threat to wildlife. The unstoppable invasive plant also keeps the soil from being able to effectively sequester carbon. It can grow up to 60 feet a season, about a foot a day.

The Angora and American Lamancha goats working at Kanuga are from Mountain Goatscapes in Hendersonville. Mary Kait Brown, Kanuga’s environmental programs specialist, says, “Kudzu has no natural control here in the Southeast. It is able to grow very fast, outcompeting other native plants, and has a devastating cascade effect on the entire ecosystem. So, when I found out about ‘goatscaping’ as an effective and environmentally friendly way to combat invasive plant species, it was a no brainer! And besides, what is more adorable than a goat munching on leaves to its heart’s content?”

At Kanuga, we treasure God’s gift of creation and commit to using and teaching sustainable models that have the least impact on our 1,400 acres of land and its resources. We’re glad to have our hungry, playful, furry friends on property helping us make that core value of sustainability a reality.