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Lenexa makes an unusual hire to deal with a landscape problem

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The problem was a park's storm water drain overrun by poison ivy, honeysuckle and other invasive species. The solution was 42 hungry goats.

The storm water drain in Lenexa's Sar-Ko-Par Park was teeming with invasive plants. Roughly 60% of the vegetation surrounding the drain was species considered to be threatening to the local ecosystem.

Lenexa struck a deal with Goats on the Go KCMO to bring in a herd to tackle the issue. The four-legged eating machines moved across 2.5 acres of rocky terrain and steep slopes mowing through the vegetation.

Now, in the wake of the visit, the area lays clear and free of invasive plants.

Margaret Chamas of Goats on the Go KCMO oversees the goats and other livestock at Storm Dancer Farm in Smithville, MO. She takes on grazing projects across the Kansas City metro area.

Chamas grew up raising dairy goats. "My little sister and I went to a teaching farm . . . and goats are some of the easily friendliest farm critters and so we fell in love with them, got back home and said, 'We want to be farmers.'"

Knowing how "they love eating brush and weeds" she says, the goats were used to clean up her parents property "which now looks like a park."

At the time she became involved with Goats on the Go Chamas explains she was, "looking for a job and looking for a way to turn my hobby farm into something a bit more profitable." The company is a nationwide network that connects people looking for grazing services with farms near their location.

The particular area in the park where Chamas and her goats worked was filled with unstable rocks on a steep hill that would prove hazardous to workers, but is a cake-walk for the goats.

Besides the 42 goats that cleared the Lenexa site, Chamas currently has approximately 75 of the grazers on other jobs. Altogether her total herd numbers around 200 animals.

While on a job site "they sleep under the stars," Chamas explains. "They learn the routine pretty quickly and they figure out, 'OK, just hunker down and then we'll get up tomorrow and start eating again.'"

  • Margaret Chamas, owner, Storm Dancer Farm, Goats on the Go affiliate
  • Ted Semadeni, stormwater superintendent, Lenexa, Kansas
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Connor Stewart is an intern for KCUR's Up To Date.