Goats at work: An unusual cleanup crew at a Hampton cemetery


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Here we “goat” again: A local cemetery needs help cleaning up, and this time, a local woman has enlisted the help from actual goats. We’re not kidding.

Overgrowth is plaguing the Phoebus Memorial Cemetery yet again.

Last year, 10 On Your Side showed you the problem at the historic cemetery off Woodland Road. Charmaine Vauters feared her family’s legacy would be lost in the weeds, so she and several others made it their mission to do something about it.

“I saw what condition it was in and I just started doing it. 20 years later I’m still out here doing it,” said Robert Ransom.

Twenty years later, Ransom is not the only one helping to clean up the Phoebus Memorial Cemetery.

Vauters, who couldn’t be there in-person on Wednesday, enlisted the help from Mary Bowen, who owns Prosperity Acres and the 45 goats that are now helping clean up.

“Actually, within this compound that we have set up for them, they’re actually eating down all of the invasive species,” said Bowen.

“Because we’ve had so much rain this summer, the rear section of the cemetery overgrew and we didn’t want to call and ask the volunteers to do the same thing over again so soon,” said Vauters.

Once again, losing parts of history is threatened by vegetation — fixing that is something Ransom is passionate about.

“I have family out here. My grandmother, grandfather, uncle, and some more residents out here,” said Ransom.

“I’ve asked if I could be buried in the cemetery but I was told that does not offer perpetual care,” Vauters said.

Bowen is more than willing to help care for the cemetery.

“And we really need to bring the respect back to the cemetery and to the history of all the individuals that are buried here, in my opinion,” said Bowen.

Plus, she says the goats are environmentally safe.

“The amount of herbicide it would take to knock all these weeds back would be such a tremendous amount of poison in the air,” said Bowen.

And if the goats love it, might as well let them do the job.

“It’s not harmful to them at all and they enjoy eating it, it’s very high in protein for them,” said Bowen.

And Vauters loves it.

“I know is that cool right?” she said.

They are on the right path to getting the long-term care at the cemetery they want.

Bowen said it will take about two weeks for these guys to finish up their work at the cemetery. If you’d like to know more about these goats and how they help the environment click here.

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