Cassopolis farm’s goat grazing program clearing weeds, brush one bite at a time

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

CASS COUNTY — A local farm is not kidding around when it comes to weed and brush control in Michiana.

Willowbrook Farms, owned and operated by the Frias family in rural Cass County, recently brought “Goats On The Go South Bend” to Dr. T. K. Lawless Park to address an overgrown area on its disc golf course. Goats On The Go South Bend services Cass County and parts of Van Buren and Berrien Counties in Michigan, and parts of St Joseph and Elkhart Counties in Indiana; including Niles, Marcellus, Cassopolis, South Bend, Goshen, and Elkhart.

The targeted grazing program consists of a herd of goats and sheep, which will eat problematic vegetation with little damage to desirable plants; eliminate the need for machines; be able to work in rough terrain with little risk of erosion; eliminate the need for chemicals; and be very efficient at what they do. 

“It’s definitely reducing our carbon footprint. That is something everyone should strive for,” said Cass County Parks director Scott Wyman. “We like to say we’re stewards of the land, water and sky. Why not try to lead by example whenever possible? I think this project was leading by example. Many times there are alternate ways to accomplish goals. That’s why we brought the goats in. I think a lot of people were surprised at how efficient they were at removing the undesirable plant life.”

Vanessa Frias of Willowbrook Farms said the endeavor began shortly after the family moved to Cassopolis last year.

“We had collected a few small goats and they would get out and they would eat our stuff,” she said. “Our neighbor said she had some overgrown brush and asked to borrow some of our goats. I started doing some research and found Goats on The Go. This is our first year doing it and it’s going pretty well so far.”

After attending a Goats on the Go training session in Iowa, Frias reached out to Cass County Parks Director Scott Wyman about clearing overgrown areas with goats. Arriving at the park on May 24, the goats were on the job for five days in an area located east of the games field off trail 6. 

“They’ve done a great job of clearing the overgrown brush areas that he needs,” Frias said. “Now he’s able to get in and cut down some of the trees that have fallen. It’s done a good job for him.”

Wyman was impressed with the efficiency of the goats and hopes to utilize the program in the future.

“It was in an area we couldn’t get equipment into,” he said. “Handwork isn’t efficient at times. It would have taken so long for us to do. We’re pleased and we’re excited about the future. We’re a community-driven parks department. It was definitely a win-win for us as well as Willowbrook Farms.”

Frias said interest in Goats On The Go has increased in recent weeks. For more information regarding the Goats On Thhe Go program, contact Willowbrook Farms at:

“People are seeing the benefit of goats and just how much better it is for the environment,” she said.