120814 grazing sheep

What do you do when you have a lot of lawn area and don’t want to waste the money or environmental resources it would take to mow it? If you’re part of the community development organization St. Clair Superior in Cleveland, sheep provide a green solution.

Yes, if you drive by the open industrial land along the shore of Lake Erie, you might see a group of more than 30 sheep (along with a protective llama) chomping away at the grass. These sheep provide a more environmentally responsible way to maintain the city’s green space. And it also costs much less than a landscaping crew — about $1,500 compared to $4,000.

Michael Fleming, executive director of St. Clair Superior told CNN:

“There’s a lot of empty land, and not a lot of money to take care of it.”

The sheep initiative is actually part of a larger effort by the city of Cleveland to improve its environmental practices in a specific sector each year.

In past years, the city has worked with other community organizations to improve things like access to healthy, sustainable food options. These initiatives haven’t always been profitable. The goal is more about sustainability and improving quality of life for residents. But that doesn’t mean the organizations aren’t looking for ways to become more profitable.

Fleming is currently working on finding ways to make more money from the sheep mowing initiative. Currently, he gets money from the landowners, who would otherwise have to pay landscaping companies. But there may be other opportunities on the horizon.

Fleming has considered selling the sheep’s wool and lanonlin, having them wear advertising jackets, or even offering the sheep to local restaurants interested in putting lamb chops on the menu. He told CNN:

“There are all sorts of uses. Some of them involve the untimely departure of the sheep, others do not.”