Living in the South has made me a kudzu warrior. I’ve battled that vine at most of the properties I’ve owned in Georgia. At times, I’ve sat and watched it grow. Know your enemy. That’s right. I’ve put my time in.
For those of you who don’t know; it grows a foot a day. Yes. You can watch it grow right before your very eyes. I’ll never forget the time I was clearing the lot behind my sister’s house when something shiny caught my eye in the thick ground cover. It was an old car bumper! Two days later, they were towing a 1965 Buick out of the ditch. If I were a mystery writer, that would be the beginning of my best seller.
This insidious vine was introduced to the United States during the 1876 Centennial Expo in Philadelphia at the Japanese Pavilion. But it gained ground, literally. After WWII it was introduced as a method of controlling soil erosion along the Southeast coast. I'd love to know who the man was that thought that this was a good idea.
Kudzu on the highway in Louisville TN
Incidentally, in the North Georgia Mountains, there are people that use kudzu as salad greens because it is safe to eat. And it sure is plentiful! But here in Metro Atlanta, you just know that it’s been sprayed at one time or another with a variety of ineffective herbicides. Kudzu just laughs…and grows. Perhaps Napalm would do it?
Before I go all ‘Apocalypse Now’ on this menacing foe let me see what the pros are up to. A large southern city that is known for its beautiful trees and parks should know a thing or two about kudzu. And it appears that they do.
Chastain Park is the largest of the Metro Atlanta parks with over 200 acres of green space. They host major entertainment events at the Chastain Amphitheater, have miles of jogging paths, swimming pools, a golf course, a horse park and the list goes on. Kudzu control is a full time job here. You could say it really gets their goat. Because the park just hired about 100 goats to take a chomp at it.
A joint effort between Trees Atlanta and the Chastain Park Conservancy has hired Eweniversally Green to bring in 100 sheep and goats for the next two weeks to chew right through it. These grazers can chow down an acre of kudzu in two or three days.
The locals are just loving it. It’s a big win for the neighborhood. The kids love the novelty and the adults are enjoying the low tech solution that has no impact to the environment.
According to the Trees Atlanta website, we will be seeing quite a few of these new grazing initiatives in the near future.
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