War on Garlic Mustard–Goats, Volunteers and Dumpsters

Watch Nature Change’s in depth video about the baby goats and how conservation grazing is making a difference 

9&10 News goat story


The Leelanau Conservancy is launching an all-out war on invasive garlic mustard from early May through mid-June and needs your help. Garlic Mustard is a European native with no natural enemies in Michigan. The plant’s rapid growth coupled with massive seed production has led to its quick spread, especially at places like Clay Cliffs Natural Area. Garlic mustard crowds out native plants like spring beauty, trillium and pink lady slippers, which in turn reduces the food supply for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

There is a window of opportunity from early May to early-June to remove this easy-to-pull plant before it goes to seed. The effort to control its spread includes bringing in a herd of goats to knosh a dense stand at Clay Cliffs. Luckily, goats love to eat garlic mustard and will munch plants to the ground before they produce billions of seeds—a practice known as conservation grazing. The goats will be corralled with a temporary solar-powered electric fence.

A company called City Girls will be managing the goats. Thirty of the animals are being generously provided at no charge from Idyll Farms, a goat farm and creamery located near Northport and longtime supporters of the Conservancy.

Staff and volunteers will be freed up to turn their attention to removing this easy-to-pull plant in areas where it is scattered which will help to control its spread. There are five workbees scheduled between May 8 and June 1 (see schedule below). One of them even involves a post-work lunch featuring, what else, garlic mustard.

Finally, there are actions homeowners can take to stop the spread by pulling the plant, which is easy to identify. “It’s really important to bag up what you pull,” says Natural Areas and Preserves Manager Becky Hill. “You definitely don’t want to toss it on the compost pile or into the woods.” Because it is a noxious weed, you are allowed to put sealed bags of garlic mustard into your garbage. Or, take it to a dumpster provided by the Invasive Species Network. One will be located temporarily in the Clay Cliffs parking lot from May 18th until June 8th.

“We hope to have hundreds of volunteers join our war on garlic mustard,” adds Hill. “People can really make a difference in just a couple of hours. Besides that, it’s my favorite time to be at Clay Cliffs. The birds are singing, the wildflowers are just incredible and you might even find a morel or two along the way.”

 Garlic Mustard Workbees:


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