They’re Baaaaack! Trust for Governors Island Announces Return of Summer Sheep Employees
Jun 1, 2022 9:36 am
The Trust for Governors Island is officially welcoming baaaaack to New York City its five most famous employees from last summer: a family of landscaping sheep. This fluffy flock — Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries — hail from Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm in Albany and for the second straight year will spend the summer Governors Island, helping to control invasive plant species in Hammock Grove’s young urban forest and ensuring the area’s biodiversity can thrive for years to come.
The sheep’s love for herbaceous plants, such as grasses, phragmites, and flowering plants like mugwort and sunflowers make them a natural fit to join Governors Island’s horticulture team. Replete with such delicacies (phragmites being the sheep’s favorite), the flock will live on the Island, enjoying a lush grove and eating its invasive plants for the second straight summer.
“We are thrilled to welcome our four-legged landscapers back to Governors Island. They may be cute and fuzzy, but these hardworking sheep also provide an incredible service to the Island by supporting our horticulture team in clearing invasive species that otherwise would harm our growing urban forest in Hammock Grove,” said Clare Newman, President and CEO of The Trust for Governors Island. “Flour, Sam, Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries will help provide a groomed and beautifully maintained green space this summer for all of our visitors to enjoy.”
“We are excited to be back on Governors Island this year, sharing the animals 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 the how the sheep have helped to improve the plant diversity on Governors Island, and to have that work connect directly with the rest of our flock doing similar work upstate. We can’t wait for Island visitors to learn more about these animals this summer.”
Mugwort, phragmites, and other invasive plant species have a competitive nature and crowd other plantings within the park, essentially creating a monoculture. The sheep eating these herbaceous plants helps to break down and weaken them, preventing them from flowering and the seeds spreading.
Recruiting a herd of sheep is extremely beneficial to the Trust for Governors Island’s efforts to care for the park, as it reduces the time spent on invasive species removal to less than 30 percent of the gardening staff time. Having the sheep deal with the invasive plants allows the horticulture team to focus more on the well-being of the trees and soil and ensure that the forest in Hammock Grove thrives on Governors Island.
Prior to the arrival of these sheep last year, the Trust’s horticulture team spent a tremendous amount of time weeding, and the sheep represent a cost effective and eco-friendly solution that allows the team to focus on more productive tasks. During their first year on the Island, they cleared more than eight acres of invasive plants, expeditiously keeping up with the active growing season and completely clearing many sections of the Island’s park several times over.
Sheep are also uniquely suited to the work on Governors Island, more so than goats or other animals, since their culinary tastes do not include tree bark. The sheep will eat around the young trees in Hammock Grove and focus on phragmites and other delicacies, while goats would devour virtually any plant life they could get their hooves on, invasive or not.
Throughout the summer, the Trust will partner with Friends of Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm to host several public sheep herding demonstrations on the Island; dates will be announced in the coming weeks.
Governors Island is open to the public Sunday through Thursday from 7am to 6pm. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, the Island is open to the public until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Trust for Governors Island-operated ferries run daily between the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street in Lower Manhattan and Soissons Landing on the Island. Trust-operated ferries also serve two Brooklyn locations on weekends through September 25, 2022: Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. For schedules and ticketing information, click here.
NYC Ferry also serves Governors Island daily, with weekday service on the South Brooklyn route and via the summer weekend shuttle from Wall Street/Pier 11. For ticketing information and full schedules for NYC Ferry, visit www.ferry.nyc.