What began as a charismatic brush-clearing project on a vacant lot abutting SE Belmont Street in 2010 has somehow morphed into a city institution. When people suffering from PTSD began showing up for impromptu weekly goat therapy, the owners knew their herd had become something more.
“It was mostly sort of this organic, happy accident,” says Belmont Goats board member and project manager Bix Frankonis.
Yes, the Belmont Goats now “answer” to a board of three who look after their well-being. Today, the herd of 14 cud-chewers (and their pet hen) abide in the heart of Lents. (Their old home on Belmont is now a massive apartment complex dubbed the Goat Blocks.)
But an October deadline looms: the goats’ Lents home will soon be redeveloped. The board is searching for a home that fits the herd’s needs: no less than half an acre, accessible to all forms of transportation, within city limits—central location preferred—and at least two years of grass-chomping time guaranteed. This is not a search for a permanent home, Frankonis says. Despite the name, the herd (or, more to the point, its humans) hope to relocate every two to three years, as once-vacant urban fields inevitably begin redevelopment.
Says Frankonis: “Having a model of moving every few years allows another part of town to experience the goats as the host neighborhood.”