Down to Earth

Amanita Thorp Berto is owner of Horned Locust Remediation, and she uses a flock of goats and sheep to do landscaping projects. In gardens, parks, photovoltaic installations, and many other places, goats take the place of toxic herbicides and pesticides and of course machines like lawnmowers. They love to eat plants that cause allergies in people––even poison ivy––and they easily go to places machines can’t reach. And in the process, they leave the land more fertile and resilient, as they mimic the natural processes of animal/land interaction.

This interview is part the Good Earth series, a project supported by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Healthy Soils Initiative and led by photographer Esha Chiocchio. It features a set of eight videos on soil stewards in New Mexico. Please check out the short videos here.

All photos by Esha Chiocchio

3’16 what is goatscaping
3’58 what the goats do all day
4’33 using goats to control allergens
5’09 community alternative to spraying
6’45 goats and fire prevention
8’16 how to get goats to eat what you want them to eat
10’27 replacing herbicides and pesticides for rodent control, elm control
12’41 goats provide soil-building instead of vegetation removal
13’21 how goats are not like lawn mowers
14’32 working together with plants instead of fighting them
14’51 using both sheep and goats, as they eat different things in different ways
15’22 how goats and sheep interrelate
16’06 they even like poison ivy
16’54 how using goats builds soil
18’16 how goats affect insect populations
19’33 goats cull diseased plants
19’55 camping with goats for weeks at a time, using horses
20’38 using portable electric fencing
21’01 guardian dogs and herding dogs for goats
22’47 toddler daughter Miracle, the small goatherder
25’12 goats great for maintenance of photovoltaic installations
26’31 providing water for the goats
28’35 background in herbalism
29’30 yes, goats eat goatheads—and they’re really good for fertility
29’54 what happens to the goats when they’re not working
30’20 public community days with goats
31’44 the soap opera of goat relationships
32’28 the work feels important