Once upon a time in Portland there were two acres of vacant open space in the midst of a neighborhood named Buckman that was industrial on one side and residential on the other, along a road named Belmont.
2010 - 2012
The Rented Herds
At the suggestion of local landscape architect Brett Milligan, the development company which owned the Belmont lot agreed to hire herds of goats for one month every summer to clear brush. What he didn’t tell them was that he had a secret agenda: the social experiment of seeing what such a neighborhood would think of having goats, for a time, living there.
For three summers, herds of rented goats wandered the lot and came to the fence line to meet both neighbors and visitors, but the history of the goat field had only just begun.
2012 - 2013
“Urban Goats PDX”
After those first three years, the owner of a business whose shop stood directly across the street, who’d helped care for the rented herds, arranged to have his own goats on the lot.
This new herd began in October 2012 and grew as its owner bought new goats in pairs from area farms. Unlike their predecessors, these goats would take up residence rather than be hired out to clear brush at other locations, something which remains true to this day.
This was the herd which Portland came to know and love over the next year, in the words of one early supporter becoming the “nexus of an unexpected and spontaneous community”.
After a year of uninterrupted residency, an approaching deadline to make way for a long-expected development project raised the possibility of the herd being split up into its original pairs. A handful of its volunteer caretakers stepped up to purchase the goats, for the good of both the herd and the community, setting a goal of finding its next publicly-accessible home.
2013 - 2018
New Owners & A Nonprofit
While the herd would no longer reside on on that street, its new owners officially named them The Belmont Goats in recognition of the pioneering history of urban goats there, forming a nonprofit of that name to manage the project going forward.
At the invitation of the neighborhood, The Belmont Goats conducted a successful crowdfunding campaign and relocated to Lents, onto land provided by the city. Over the course of its four-year stay in Lents, the herd lived on two area properties, as neighborhood redevelopment got underway.
During its stay in Lents, the herd not only established regularly-scheduled visiting hours but off-hours group visits by appointment as well, hosting everything from preschool field trips to photography and sketching clubs to memory care resident outings.
2018 - ?
Today & Tomorrow
With the end of its stay in Lents approaching, the herd was invited to take up residence for its next couple of years on city-owned land in University Park. A little more out of the way, a little less urban in its surroundings, but a respite still. It’s like The Grotto, but goats. In this quiet, calm, and shady location, the herd will continue its long-established visiting hours and off-hours group visits.