When Dennis was growing up on South Side, he played Little League baseball at a field a short way up the slopes from his house — Bandi Schaum Field. This ballpark area has turned into a neighborhood garden space, since 2012 — Bandi Schaum Community Garden. The ball-field now garden is in an urban park called South Side Park in a ravine formerly used by St. Clair Incline and the site of Sankey Brick Works. The St. Clair Incline was built by 1888 and connected 22nd St/Josephine St to Salisbury St, ending at the current Arlington Playground. I’m not sure when the incline closed, but it was dismantled in 1934. One interesting thing, the track was not straight with a constant slope but got steeper toward the top, tracing a parabolic arc.
The ravine part of the park is apparently quite overgrown with both native and invasive plants (Japanese knotweed is one of the most invasive plants in the world. It was introduced to North America in the 19th century and has been spreading like crazy ever since. It is here, in Pittsburgh, in South Side, in my backyard, and I’m sure in the ravine). To clear out inaccessible areas, South Side Park has called in Allegheny GoatScape.
www.alleghenygoatscape.org is a non-profit organization consisting of a herd of goats with a helper donkey and some human managers. When the herd is hired, the humans go out, establish a fence line and put up a shelter. Then the goats move in and start eating. The donkey helps keep the herd safe, and the humans check up daily as well. Goats can clear difficult terrain that people or machinery can’t get to. They work without using damaging herbicides. They need no fuel other than the plants they eat. They work long hours, leave no waste except some natural fertilizer, and if they eat the plants before they seed it helps reduce the ‘soil seed bank’, reducing future growth. It also gets people talking about goats!
After their work is done, South Side Park is throwing the goats a party. July 8, from noon to 4 pm, is “Goat Fest in South Side Park”. You can meet the goats at Bandi Schaum Garden, hear some music, hike around, and see the improvements and upgrades. Event is free and family friendly. Info available in the South Pittsburgh Reporter, vol. 77 no. 52, Tuesday June 27, 2017.