Portland proposal would replace city lawn mowers with sheep

Yes, you read that correctly.

Ever striving to become more environmentally friendly, one of the latest proposals kicking around City Hall is for Portland to pass its lawn grooming duties from gas guzzling mowers to grass guzzling sheep.

BDN file photo by Gabor Degre

Mayor Michael Brennan brought up the unique proposal this morning during a forum on South Portland on carbon emission standards being proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The mayor was discussing the ways in which Maine’s largest city is trying to go greener, including by increasing the amount of locally produced food distributed in city schools and seeking to double the amount of community garden space can be found in the city.

Another neat idea is the development of a substantial urban farm within city limits. But the one that gave us all a double-take was the sheep concept.

Said Brennan:

There’s a proposal for us to buy a herd of sheep to mow the grass at places like Deering Oaks Park.

Replacing mowers with barn animals would be one way to continue shearing back the city’s carbon emissions, certainly.

The mayor even said the city-owned sheep — groups of which can also be called flocks or mobs, if you’re looking for rhyming words for song lyrics (ahem, Troy R. Bennett) — could fit into his local food movement.

Try turning a steel ride-on mower into a delicacy after it breaks down and see where that gets you. But sheep? Mutton.

To be clear, this mower-to-sheep conversion in Portland is not imminent, and may never get beyond the brainstorming phase. (There would be a lot of logistical things to work out — Would the city have to hire a shepherd? How would they keep dogs walking in the park from spooking the sheep? Would they truck the sheep from site to site in a trailer? What about the poop?)

Brennan phrased it politely: “I don’t know if that’s going to be the first proposal we pursue.”

The mayor is not pulling the wool over our eyes here, people. (Yes, I had to.)

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.