The city’s department of aviation awarded a $100,000 contract to Central Commissary Holdings, which owns the small grazing herd and operates several restaurants including Chicago’s Butcher & The Burger, Boca Raton, Fla.’s Dandelion, and 8oz. Burger Bar, with locations in Seattle, Bossier City, La. and Los Angeles International Airport.
The CDA expects to begin the pilot grazing program this spring, once sufficient foliage for the goats is available at the airport.
The program will help CDA achieve economic and environmental benefits, CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino says. These include reducing landscape maintenance costs from fuel, labor, herbicides and equipment, as well as eliminating mowing and transporting landscape debris to landfills. The goats provide an alternative to toxic herbicides, help prevent runoff, reduce use of CO2-emitting lawnmowers and weed-eaters, and reduce the use of heavy equipment, thus minimizing soil erosion.
The goats will graze on 120 acres of land on four sites, the CDA says. All of the sites are located in areas away from or separated from the airfield by security fencing. These include hilly areas along creeks or streams and roadway right-of ways that are overcrowded with dense scrub vegetation that’s difficult to maintain with traditional landscaping equipment.
The goats and herder will remain supervised on airport property during the week and housed overnight in a transport trailer nearby during evening hours.
The goats will join a host of other sustainability initiatives the CDA has implemented at O’Hare and Midway International airports, including solar panels, electric-vehicle charging stations and a composting program. O’Hare Airport also has an aeroponic vegetable garden that feeds 10,000+ people a year. The airport grows 1,100 crops at one time in the garden’s vertical tower.