Come rain or shine, a flock of sheep descends from a picket cellular barn onto a sprawling city park each morning in Montreal’s east finish.
Jupiter, KitKat, Thérèse, Sparkles and their urban colleagues have a job to do: they mow the plush grass in the course of the heat summer season months at Parc Maisonneuve.
Laurence Sauvageau-Fresco oversees greater than 100 volunteers in her position at Biquette à Montreal, a non-profit group devoted to bringing eco-grazing and urban agriculture to the city.
Urban sheep take to the streets of Montreal with a message
The sheep head out at 9 a.m. and freely roam and graze the inexperienced house. They are accompanied by rotating teams of at the least three shepherds at a time till 7 p.m., after they head again inside for the night, she mentioned.
They not solely maintain the grass clean-cut, however in addition they maintain the peace.
“They’re not compacting the ground like lawnmowers, they’re not scaring all the birds, all the wildlife around because they’re not as noisy,” Sauvageau-Fresco mentioned.
But the 16 sheep that take over the park are far more than seasonal landscaping employees. They are pleasant and curious and bring folks joy.
The mission has modified lives, she mentioned. The group brings a little bit of the nation to Montreal and provides city dwellers an opportunity to get nearer to nature.
“It’s not just using them, it’s living alongside them,” Sauvageau-Fresco mentioned.
“And seeing what they can bring to us and what we can bring to them.”
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Biquette, which is in its sixth yr, has spent 4 summers at Parc Maisonneuve. Sauvageau-Fresco, who now lives in the Laurentians, mentioned she has at all times had a powerful love for animals and was immediately hooked when she volunteered for the primary time in 2018.
Aside from co-ordinating volunteers, she describes herself because the “guardian of memories.” 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— like how Jupiter is the oldest member of the group on the ripe age of six and she has twins who’re six months outdated. Then there’s KitKat, who’s all black, and her daughter, Thérèse, a totally white sheep.
“I’m like their godmother because I’m so close to them,” she mentioned.
Sauvageau-Fresco additionally provides yoga classes in order that members 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 sometimes sit on the ground and you’re calm, having a picnic or doing yoga there, there are more chances that they will come close,” she mentioned. “Sometimes the shepherds help to bring them around when there’s a class.”
The eco-grazing initiative has shortly grown thanks to devoted volunteer shepherds. Aside from yoga classes, Biquette additionally provides workshops on making wool and different urban agriculture classes to anybody who needs to be taught extra.
Sauvageau-Fresco mentioned there’s 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 city in 2022.
“There’s a lot of neighbourhoods that are asking us but it needs a lot of organization,” she mentioned.
The mission requires folks to accompany the sheep for your complete time they’re out and about in the inexperienced house. Shepherds assist information them and guarantee curious park goers know they will look, however that it isn’t a petting zoo. Biquette is at the moment holding a web based fundraiser to construct a much bigger cellular barn, which shortly provides up in prices.
Montrealers who need to see the sheep are invited to go to Parc Maisonneuve on daily basis from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. till September.
Herding sheep by means of the streets of Montreal
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