Trust for Gov­er­nors Island Wel­comes Back Leg­endary Sheep Land­scap­ing Crew


For the third straight year the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island is proud to wel­come a fam­i­ly of five sheep for their sum­mer land­scap­ing jobs. Hail­ing from Friends of Tivoli Lake Pre­serve and Farm in Albany these sheep will spend the next five months munch­ing away on mug­wort, phrag­mites and oth­er inva­sive species, free­ing up the Island’s hor­ti­cul­tur­al team to do more impor­tant work.

Three of the sheep — Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries – are return­ing to Gov­er­nors Island for their third sea­son and will spend anoth­er sum­mer eat­ing inva­sive plants in Ham­mock Grove. Two new sheep — Bowie, rec­og­niz­able by his dark brown wool coat, and Jupiter, rec­og­niz­able by the white spot on his nose — vis­it­ing the Island for the first time this year. 

Ewe bet­ter believe we are excit­ed to wel­come baaaaack our flock of wooly friends to Gov­er­nors Island,” said Clare New­man, Pres­i­dent & CEO of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. This inno­v­a­tive land­scap­ing pro­gram is not only a great ben­e­fit to our Island’s plants but to our vis­i­tors as well, who always enjoy see­ing the sheep in action. We are thrilled that two new faces are join­ing us this year but will note that Bowie and Jupiter are under pres­sure to live up to the work per­for­mance of their fam­i­ly, who have become land­scap­ing heroes and enjoy con­sid­er­able fame.”

This will be the third year the sheep will be com­ing down to help us mow mug­wort and phrag­mites,” said Leo Framp­ton, Gar­den­er and at the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. As always, these ani­mals will give me and my team more time to do what we love (gar­den­ing) by spend­ing each day doing what they love (eat­ing). They will help us max­i­mize the eco­log­i­cal ben­e­fits of Ham­mock Grove, as it con­tin­ues to grow into a ful­ly formed urban for­est that all New York­ers can escape to.”

Baa! Baa! Baaaaa! Baaaaaaaaaaaaa!,” said Bowie and Jupiter in a joint state­ment when asked how excit­ed they was to spend this sum­mer on Gov­er­nors Island, one of the pre­mier New York City des­ti­na­tions for tourists and locals alike.

Mug­wort, phrag­mites (the sheep’s favorite) and oth­er inva­sive plant species have a com­pet­i­tive nature and crowd oth­er plant­i­ngs on Gov­er­nors Island, 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 hor­ti­cul­ture staff time. The sheep pro­vide eco-friend­ly land­scape care that ensures the area’s bio­di­ver­si­ty can thrive for years to come and allows the Trust’s hor­ti­cul­ture team to use their time and tal­ents to focus on cul­ti­vat­ing an immer­sive, cli­mate resilient, eco­log­i­cal­ly ben­e­fi­cial open space where all New York­ers are able to learn from and recon­nect with nature.

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.

Sev­er­al sheep herd­ing demon­stra­tions will be held on Gov­er­nors Island in part­ner­ship with Friends of Tivoli Lake Pre­serve and Farm, fea­tur­ing live sheep herd­ing and hands-on wool activ­i­ties, with dates to be announced on www​.gov​is​land​.org/​t​h​i​n​g​s​-​to-do.

We are excit­ed to be back on Gov­er­nors Island this year, intro­duc­ing new ani­mals to this amaz­ing place 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 in Ham­mock Grove, and to con­nect that work with the rest of our flock upstate. We can’t wait for Island vis­i­tors to learn more about these ani­mals this sum­mer, and hope every­one will join our herd­ing demon­stra­tions — where vis­i­tors will be able to expe­ri­ence live sheep herd­ing and learn all about the impor­tance of their wool and its dif­fer­ent uses.” 

The days are get­ting warmer, the flow­ers are bloom­ing, and the sheep are com­ing back to Ham­mock Grove! I applaud the team at Friends of Tivoli Lake Pre­serve for tak­ing good care of Evening, Chad, and Philip Aries this past win­ter, and the Gov­er­nors Island team for prepar­ing Ham­mock Grove for their return, and wel­com­ing Bowie and Jupiter into the fold. I’m glad New York has had the wool pulled from its eyes regard­ing just how help­ful the flock can be to decrease inva­sive species, and I look for­ward to vis­it­ing our sheep this sum­mer with my fam­i­ly,” said New York State Sen­a­tor Andrew Gounardes

I was thrilled when I herd that Manhattan’s favorite sum­mer res­i­dents and nat­ur­al gar­den­ers were return­ing,” said Man­hat­tan Bor­ough Pres­i­dent Mark Levine. The Gov­er­nors Island sheep are an inno­v­a­tive and beloved approach to sus­tain­able, zero-waste land­scap­ing. New York­ers: Ewe bet­ter stop by Ham­mock Grove to see these four-legged hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ists in action.”