CVU to raise livestock on campus for the first time

Champlain Valley Union High School’s Natural Resources class introduced goats on campus for the first time last week. Photo by Lynn Monty.

We had the pleasure of visiting with Dave Trevithick’s Natural Resources class where we learned all about caring for goats, that we have 8,000 coyotes in the state, and how bats like to sleep. His students have been busy! We asked a few more questions about goats finding permanent residence on the CVU campus in a June 6 interview, and Dave was happy to oblige. Please see a video of the goats on The Charlotte News Facebook page, where it already has about 4,000 views!

The Charlotte News: Why livestock at CVU?

Dave Trevithick: As we start creating our Sustainability Hub at CVU, we realized that part of not only farm-to-school but sustainability in general is animals and their role in the environment. With the goats we wanted animals that would be able to take care of our landscape as well as be relatively hardy animals to introduce to CVU. We could not have done this without the help of Diantha Francis, who raises goats and works at CVU. The chickens were also an easy choice as we can start getting eggs soon and they are also pretty easy to care for.

TCN: Are you prepared to house goats and chickens all year round?

DT: We are prepared to house goats year round, and as for the chickens, we are still figuring that out.

TCN: Are any other animals on their way? Cows perhaps?

DT: As for other animals, we don’t have any plans currently, but Angora goats have been discussed, as well as geese. We are trying to work around the mixed uses that the campus currently has, for example the disc golf course.

TCN: What is the added workload for housing these animals?

DT: Currently the work load includes putting the goats and chickens into the student-built goat cart in the evening, letting them out in the morning and always making sure they have fresh water. When the grazing opportunities diminish we will move the cart, goat and fencing to a new area. Already they are having an impact on the unwanted vegetation that we have here.

TCN: How did this rotational grazing goat cart come about?

DT: This started in the fall in Natural Resources when students created a permaculture plan for CVU that included livestock. Students in the spring picked up the project to make it happen.

TCN: Is it costly?

DT: I purchased the goats myself, as well as the chicken eggs that were incubated. The costs so far have been for the incubator and the goat cart material. Those costs were taken care of by a donation from the Norman Foundation and Phil Lassalle. We are hoping to one day have the chickens and garden producing enough to make their upkeep sustainable.

TCN: What would you like our readers to know about livestock being introduced on campus for the first time?

DT: I feel it is so important for people to be connected to their food, as well as to our agricultural roots, which sometimes feel lost even when it was only 20 years ago we were called “Cow Valley Union.” Currently our biggest concerns about bringing livestock to CVU are unleashed dogs on the disc golf course. CVU policy doesn’t allow dogs on campus to begin with, but I understand that it really isn’t enforced. So if people could really make an effort to keep their dogs at home or have them leashed at all times, that would be a huge help.