City calls in sheep for clean up at Decatur Cemetery

City calls in sheep for clean up at Decatur Cemetery

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DECATUR, Ga. -

The Decatur Cemetery is the oldest municipal cemetery in all of Atlanta, created back in the 1820s.  The lawns are groomed and manicured with lots of care, but one 10-acre patch of green space that had gone to the wild—until the city called in some special forces to reclaim it.  

At the far end of the cemetery, there's been a bit of a battle with nature.  Five years ago, the city hired Trees Atlanta to restore and preserve the woodland space.  They cleared the grassy meadow of weeds, but the steep hillside is a different story.  

So, the city put some unlikely employees on the payroll: one goat and about 100 sheep.  They're owned by shepherd Brian Cash of Eweniversally Green, a company dedicated to removing weeds and invasive plants without using pesticides.  And the sheep they've hired definitely like weeds.

With his sharp whistles and quick commands, Brian directs his dogs to herd the sheep and move them to the edge of the hill, where the smorgasbord of weeds awaits.  On the menu: Japanese hops with a side of kudzu.  

Judging from the before and after pictures from other parks they've visited, the weeds don't stand a chance.  In the past, they've worked all over Atlanta, including the fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Plus, the sheep are a big hit with residents.  City officials, meanwhile, say it's nothing to be sheepish about.  

"We're not above trying something new, and we're excited about this and hopefully it will work well," said former Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd.  

The sheep will be on the job at the Decatur Cemetery through early next week.

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