Mission and History
Allegheny GoatScape’s mission is to reduce invasive and unwanted vegetation in public spaces and vacant lots, utilizing goats for browsing. Working in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Allegheny GoatScape accomplishes this mission by partnering with organizations, land owners, and businesses and allowing the goat herd to eat vegetation on the overgrown properties. Giving goats access to intentional properties removes vegetation in an eco-friendly and efficient manner, setting the stage for additional land management and restoration. Allegheny GoatScape will also promote goat husbandry, education and resources access for those interested in raising goats in the Pittsburgh Region.
Allegheny GoatScape transitioned from an organization called Steel City Grazers, officially forming as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in January of 2017. Steel City Grazers paved the way to encourage goat herd use as a viable means to mitigate unwanted vegetation.
By clearing unwanted vegetation with goats rather than using invasive management products like herbicides, communities gain a number of benefits. Goats can traverse terrain that is difficult or impossible for people and machinery. They work long hours, and the only fuel they require is the plants they'll eat. Goats cleaning up an overgrown neighborhood space can create good community conversation, and provide volunteer opportunities to increase community engagement.
Allegheny GoatScape Staff
Gavin Deming, Founder & Executive Director
Gavin started to dream of working with goats to eat knotweed and other invasives when a good friend presented the idea of roaming Pittsburgh's North Side with a small nomadic herd eating overgrown vacant lots, more than ten years ago. When he worked on a project to bring the goats to a public space that had immediate positive effects on the landscape, he knew he had to get more involved. Fast forward a few years and he is looking forward to the Allegheny GoatScape herd keeping up this good work, mitigating invasive plants throughout Allegheny County in an eco-friendly way. Gavin has his MSW from University of Pennsylvania and is the community specialist for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Community Gardens and Greenspace Program.
Allegheny GoatScape Board of Directors:
- Sarah Ashley Baxendell, Secretary: Project Manager, Greenspace Asset Development, Hilltop Alliance
- Kendall Pelling, Treasurer: Director of Land Recycling, East Liberty Development, Inc.
- Carrie Richards: Programs Team Leader, Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management
- Janée Romesberg, President: Program Director, Allegheny Cleanways
- Lydia Yoder: Neighborhood Nestwatch Technician, Smithsonian Institution
- Ephraim Zimmerman: Natural Heritage Science Director, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy