Come rain or shine, a flock of sheep descends from a picket cell barn onto a sprawling metropolis park each morning in Montreal’s east finish.
Jupiter, KitKat, Thérèse, Sparkles and their city colleagues have a job to do: they mow the plush grass throughout the heat summer time months at Parc Maisonneuve.
Laurence Sauvageau-Fresco oversees greater than 100 volunteers in her function at Biquette à Montreal, a non-profit group dedicated to bringing eco-grazing and concrete agriculture to the town.
The sheep head out at 9 a.m. and freely roam and graze the inexperienced house. They’re accompanied by rotating teams of at the very least three shepherds at a time till 7 p.m., once they head again inside for the night, she stated.
They not solely preserve the grass clean-cut, however additionally they preserve the peace.
“They’re not compacting the bottom like lawnmowers, they’re not scaring all of the birds, all of the wildlife round as a result of they’re not as noisy,” Sauvageau-Fresco stated.
However the 16 sheep that take over the park are way more than seasonal landscaping staff. They’re pleasant and curious and produce individuals pleasure.
The venture has modified lives, she stated. The group brings a little bit of the nation to Montreal and offers metropolis dwellers an opportunity to get nearer to nature.
“It’s not simply utilizing them, it’s dwelling alongside them,” Sauvageau-Fresco stated.
“And seeing what they’ll convey to us and what we will convey to them.”
Biquette, which is in its sixth 12 months, has spent 4 summers at Parc Maisonneuve. Sauvageau-Fresco, who now lives within the Laurentians, stated she has at all times had a robust love for animals and was immediately hooked when she volunteered for the primary time in 2018.
Except for co-ordinating volunteers, she describes herself because the “guardian of recollections.” She is aware of every of the sheep by title in addition to their personalities and backstories — like how Jupiter is the oldest member of the group on the ripe age of six and she or he has twins who’re six months outdated. Then there may be KitKat, who’s all black, and her daughter, Thérèse, a totally white sheep.
“I’m like their godmother as a result of I’m so near them,” she stated.
Sauvageau-Fresco additionally gives yoga courses in order that individuals can stretch out on their mats and hopefully get a glimpse of the sheep. The flock is drawn to the presence of calm park goers.
“If you happen to typically sit on the bottom and also you’re calm, having a picnic or doing yoga there, there are extra probabilities that they may come shut,” she stated. “Generally the shepherds assist to convey them round when there’s a category.”
The eco-grazing initiative has shortly grown because of devoted volunteer shepherds. Except for yoga courses, Biquette additionally gives workshops on making wool and different city agriculture courses to anybody who desires to study extra.
Sauvageau-Fresco stated there may be excessive demand for sheep in different parks in Montreal, however that it takes a military of volunteers to take care of them. The non-profit group did a four-week stint in Rivière-des-Prairies and there are talks about increasing to different components of the town in 2022.
“There’s numerous neighbourhoods which are asking us however it wants numerous group,” she stated.
The venture requires individuals to accompany the sheep for the whole time they’re out and about within the inexperienced house. Shepherds assist information them and guarantee curious park goers know they’ll look, however that it isn’t a petting zoo. Biquette is at present holding a web-based fundraiser to construct an even bigger cell barn, which shortly provides up in prices.
Montrealers who wish to see the sheep are invited to go to Parc Maisonneuve each day from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. till September.
Herding sheep by means of the streets of Montreal
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