They’re Baaaaack! Trust for Gov­er­nors Island Announces Return of Sum­mer Sheep Employees


Photo by Timothy Schenck

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