Sheep: Montreal’s Natural Lawnmowers
No Mow May is over, and people are bringing out their lawnmowers and preparing to cut their grass. How about a natural lawnmower instead? Montreal is taking a different, more natural approach to cutting grass. They are using sheep as natural lawnmowers.
Since 2017, Biquette has let sheep graze through Park Maisonneuve in Montreal. From the end of May to September, the sheep will walk around the park, eating grass, dandelions and clovers. At night the sheep sleep in the stable, and in the winter, the sheep stay with one of the members of the Biquette.
Biquette is a non-profit organization in Montreal that uses sheep to maintain green spaces in the city. The organization was founded in 2014 by a group of friends who were looking for a more sustainable way to maintain parks and other public spaces.
Biquette’s sheep are trained to graze on grass and weeds, which helps to keep the areas they graze in a healthy condition. Biquette’s services are free to the city of Montreal, and the organization has been praised for its innovative approach to urban sustainability.
Sheep are one of the best forms of natural lawnmowers as they are lighter on the earth than a traditional mower. They also don’t compact the ground when they graze, and they enrich the soil while roaming the park and control pests, reducing the need for pesticides.
This approach is called eco-grazing. Eco-grazing is the management of green spaces using animals such as sheep, cows, and goats, who will take care of grass and weeds naturally. Eco-grazing has many benefits, including:
- Reducing air pollution
- Reducing the compaction of soil
- Reducing sound pollution
- Increasing the biodiversity of the soil
- Reducing soil pollution
- Controlling invasive species
Eco-grazing natural lawnmowers are seen worldwide in France, Brussels, the United States and Canada. In the United States, for example, eco-grazing, conservation grazing, and targeted grazing are used to eliminate invasive species and clear brush, preventing forest fires. In Pompei, Italy, eco-grazing has been taking off as a natural way to trim the grass surrounding the ruins and revive ancient vineyards. It’s also a great way to reduce energy use and costs.
Biquette hopes to convey to their sheep to demonstrate that animals and vegetation can cohabitate together and re-establish contact with the agricultural world among city dwellers. They also wish to provide a space where people can get together.
More than just Natural Lawnmowers
Biquette creates an educative space to teach people of all ages about the relationships between eco-grazing and urban and rural agriculture. Within the Park Maisonneuve, they have an education area called Le Repaire, where they have space for the sheep, chickens, and bees, all surrounded by medicinal plants, spaces for relaxation and information panels throughout the space.
The Biquette also offers workshops about beekeeping, wool, city chickens, medicinal plants, etc. Some wool workshops use the wool from the sheep roaming the park that year. The sheep are sheared at the beginning of the spring as this gives them enough time to grow back another protective layer of wool which will protect them from the heat. Some sheared wool teaches people about knitting and spinning, while the rest is used to do mulch tests in their vegetable gardens. Other activities include taking the sheep for a walk through the park, led by volunteer shepherds, yoga events with the sheep and picnics.
This is such an innovative way not only to keep the grass short, naturally, but also to expose city dwellers to nature. It also gives people a rural experience without leaving the city and going to a farm. Every year Biquette’s initiatives in Montreal are so successful among people of all ages, attracting people from all over the city and beyond to see the sheep and learn about natural lawnmowers.