Grazing sheep keep Cleveland vacant lots "shorn"

8:18 AM, Sep 23, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Several vacant lot owners in downtown Cleveland are trading in their lawn mowers for sheep.

It's a cheaper and quirky alternative to loud and expensive lawn equipment.

And in case there are any problems, like coyotes or stray dogs, there's a llama to run interference.  

Cleveland is on the cutting edge -- literally.

At the Quay 55 Building on North Marginal Road, you can see the quiet scene of urban shepherds and their flock instead of gas-guzzling riding mowers.

"So we had this idea, what if we had sheep to do it, who work for a fraction of the cost and weed, seed, and fertilize?" says Michael Fleming, with St. Clair Superior Development Corporation.

"They come in, do their job, don't cause problems and then they go," says Brendan Trewella, with Urban Shepherds.

In other words, they're the ideal employee, even if they are a bit furry.

Saint Clair Superior Development Corporation is helping land owners take care of their vacant lots cheaply and sustainably. 

"People will pull off the highway and come and eat their lunch here," says Fleming.

These entertaining sheep were dropped off in May and will stay here, day and night, through October.

Then, when they're all fenced in, all they need are some volunteer sheperds, like Evan Zuzik.

"I make sure the fencing is all fine. Count all the sheep. It's part of being a shepherd," says Zuzik.

To rent one sheep for the season costs about $150. This 4.5 acre lot requires about 34 sheep. That means it will cost the lot owner about $2,000, but it all depends on the size and state of your lot.

"That Cleveland would allow this to happen, it's a community that's so accepting and interested. It really says something about who we are," says Trewella.

In fact, Cleveland is really getting in on this on the ground level. This program is now being duplicated in cities like Chicago, Indianapolis and even Paris.

And yes, all the sheep eat is the grass on the lot and water, provided by the volunteer shepherds.


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