Three urban farming projects win New Orleans “Lots of Progress’ competition
9th Ward goat farmer’s gripe: butting heads with powers that be
By Michael Patrick Welch
December 12th, 2012
David Young took first place, and $5,000, with his Fruity About Trees idea, which will transform two vacant lots into a citrus, banana and fig orchard.
The $2,000 third prize went to Cat Kochanski’s program called Develop Abundance, which will use hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic technologies to grow fish and produce for folks in need.
Goats of Progress won $3,000 to raise goats and make them available as an eco-friendly lot-maintenance service.
Y’Herd Me Property Maintenance
Urban goat farming has proven successful in many cities. We got our first goat in late 2004, a big whether (meaning fixed) male named Chauncey Gardner, bought for $75 from a West Bank farm. The big 9th Ward house we’ve lived in for almost 10 years has a huge backyard, which Chauncey keeps immaculate. African pygmy goats such as Chauncey do very well in New Orleans. He loves the heat, and in October he grows a double coat against the cold.
Though goats are known for their devilish natures, stubbornness and tin-can munching, pygmies have far better manners than people expect. As we evacuated New Orleans ahead of Katrina, Chauncey sat quietly in the back seat for hours. His Marigny neighbor and goat buddy, Evangeline, sleeps in her owner’s bed.
Chauncey is much quieter and calmer than a dog, and easier to care for than a goldfish. Bigger goats may have questionable appetites, but our knee-high pygmy favors wild greens, plus his daily cup of sweet goat chow (and the occasional paper trash he finds on the ground).
For lawn-maintenance purposes, goats are perfect. Cows are “grazers” and rip plants out by their roots, while goats are “browsers,” discerningly pruning to ensure regrowth. Goats gobble up brush-fire risks in Texas and clear out hard-to-reach areas in California. Where houses once stood in the Lower 9th Ward, now lies a vast goat buffet.