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The Nashville Chew Crew is baaaack in action this summer

The flock of sheep are deployed throughout the Middle Tennessee area for targeted grazing aimed at clearing plants.

A flock of sheep and a white dog graze behind an electric fence. The dog is drinking out of a black tub of water.

Meet Nashville’s four-legged lawnmowers. | Photo by @friendsofshelby

If you’ve been walking along one of Nashville’s greenspaces, specifically during summer months when the grass grows quickly, you’ve probably baaacked it up for a second look when you caught sight of a flock of sheep. That’s just the Nashville Chew Crew.

It’s a name to know, considering they save the city thousands of dollars each year mowing, er we mean munching, hard-to-maintain landscapes like the Cumberland River Greenway.

How can I see the sheep?

A flock arrived to Shelby Park at the end of April, courtesy of a grant from Nashville Earth Day. They’ll graze the woods below the community center around Cave Spring, eating new growth from honeysuckle, privet, and other invasive plants, through the weekend. This is all a part of the Friends of Shelby Restore the Forest program, which you can also volunteer to help with.

Early next week, that flock will head to Fort Negley Park, and another crew of 300+ will get to work on the Cumberland River Greenway between the Clarksville Pike bridge and the I-65 bridge. Both flocks will remain here until late October or early November.

The crew is contained by temporary fencing called electric netting, which helps keep potential threats at bay. It is as it sounds, meaning you should view the fluffy neighbors at a distance.

A flock of sheep graze grass on either side of an asphalt path located next to the Cumberland River.

Still have questions? Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of how everything works. | Photo by @peregrinitea

Why sheep over goats?

There are several reasons for that. Firstly, both animals can achieve the same result. In owner Zach Richardson’s experience, sheep are safer for urban environments due to a flock-oriented nature, which makes them easier to transport + goat’s tend to be more “mischievous.”

Though their impact is big, the crew is quite small. Beyond the flock, the operation is maintained with the help of Richardson + guardian dogs — both of which help move and protect the sheep. Meet the team and learn more about their roles.

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