Meet Fort Negley’s Ewe-nique Landscapers

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Nashville Chew Crew

Photo credit: William Tracy Harris

Located immediately south of downtown Nashville, Fort Negley was the largest inland masonry fortification built in the United States during the Civil War. After capturing Nashville in 1862, Union forces constructed the fort to secure the city as a supply hub.

Now a municipal park, Fort Negley welcomes a team of unlikely landscapers to do the “mowing” twice a year.

The Nashville Chew Crew, a flock of sheep managed by owner and shepherd Zach Richardson, visits Fort Negley Park regularly to clear problematic invasive plants. The sheep provide a natural land-management option that is gentler on the historic site than mechanical clearing. They arrive just after new plant growth emerges in the spring to strip the leaves and consume the stalk, then visit again in the fall before seeds develop and drop. According to Tracy Harris, education and programs specialist at Fort Negley Park, this method has been very successful at chipping away at large swaths of invasive plants, allowing native grasses to return.

To learn more about the Nashville Chew Crew and their work at Fort Negley, visit nashvillechewcrew.com or fortnegley.nashville.gov.

See more: Meet Sheep Farmer Ben Powell

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