Saturday, December 2, 2023

Still have your Christmas tree? Spare the landfill, feed a goat

Rick Stewart with one of his goats. (Courtesy photo/Commonwealth Goatworx)
Rick Stewart with one of his goats. (Courtesy photo/Commonwealth Goatworx)

Thinking about sending your Christmas tree to a landfill? Think again.

Just across the James City County border in New Kent County, a goat farm is offering up a new sort of Christmas tree disposal service.

Rick Stewart, the owner of the Hurricane Hill Farm in Lanexa offers a different kind of curbside recycling service.

“Christmas trees are great for goats and they are terrible for the landfill,” Stewart said in an interview. “Why should we have to ship them to a landfill, pay to have them disposed of when they can be recycled?”

Stewart’s Commonwealth Goatworx’s newest service picks up your Christmas tree so the tree can be eaten by goats. The service is offered to residents from Charles City County all the way to Greater Williamsburg.

The goats eat nearly the whole tree, Stewart said.

Goatworx feeds the trees to the goats a few at a time, according to Stewart.

The trees are good for the goats’ health too.

Goatworx will pick up your Christmas tree for its goats. (Courtesy photo/Commonwealth Goatworx)
Goatworx will pick up your Christmas tree for its goats. (Courtesy photo/Commonwealth Goatworx)

“Tannins in the trees are great for parasite control within the goat,” Stewart said.

When it’s not the holiday season, Stewart’s goats manage “nuisance vegetation” for homes and sensitive environmental areas.

Plants like poison ivy and poison oak are only two of a number of harmful or unwanted types of vegetation in Virginia, according to Stewart.

“We had a bunch of brush, poison ivy, and kudzu around our farm,” the Goatworx website states. “It didn’t take our growing herd long to munch it to oblivion. That’s when it hit me that people could really benefit from this chemical and machinery free approach.”

The goats graze in residential areas and in places where mowers or pesticides are less feasible like on the waterfront of area rivers, Stewart said.

“I’ve never seen a goat cause cancer,” Stewart said to contrast the animals against some pesticides.

(Courtesy photo/Commonwealth Goatworx)
(Courtesy photo/Commonwealth Goatworx)

In Bruton, the goats helped one woman with her overgrown property. The woman’s husband was confined to a wheelchair, and she wanted to create a space for him to go outside safely, according to Stewart.

Before setting the goats free to graze, Stewart installs portable fencing to keep the area contained, he said.

For a  $10 donation, Stewart picks up Christmas trees from around the area to feed to his goats.

The “donation” goes to offset the cost of fuel for the tree pickup, Stewart said, but he will pick up trees at no cost.

It’s good for the environment, and Stewart’s 23 goat herd likes it too.

For more information on Hurricane Hill Farm click here.

Tom Davis contributed reporting.

To contact the reporter email

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