Goats graze on farm family's 'green' roof

June 8, 2012 4:02:08 PM PDT
Green roofs have many benefits, including cutting down on heating and cooling costs for the buildings they cover. But not every home or business can accommodate vegetation. One southwest suburban family has added another use for a green roof ? grazing.

The family's goats are living the high life. With in and out privileges of a penthouse suite, they both feed on and fertilize their very own green roof.

"My wife Sue thought we should grow grass up there," said Paul Siegel, Siegel's Cottonwood Farms. "Isn't there a way a farmer can grow grass up there? And so we researched what we had to do to make the structure strong enough."

Siegel says he has been looking for a way to incorporate a green roof on to their farm for quite some time. The Cottonwood Farm has been in the Siegel family since 1909 and there are still many remnants of years gone by and attempts to live green, including a windmill which was built in the 1980s by Siegel's grandfather. Today, the family still uses animal waste to fertilize many of their crops by hand. They are also a drop-site for plastic containers that are off-limits with curbside recyclers.

"When you recycle at home there are certain plastics they recycle and there are some that they don't. They don't take just anything," said Siegel.

The family is gearing up for an event on Sunday called "Woofapalooza" which will welcome the public - and their dogs - onto the farm. The goal is create a fun atmosphere, while educating people about the virtues of living green.

"We try to get a lot of the city folk to come out here cause a lot of the younger kids have never been to a farm before," said Kaity Siegel, Siegel's Cottonwood Farms. "All they have seen are animals on T.V. and what a farm looks like in a book. So we like to teach them what a real farm looks like and how its atmosphere out here and teach them where foods comes from."

Between train rides and opportunities to interact with the animals, Paul Seigel says he hopes visitors and even passersby will leave with the same impression.

"If we can convey that to people that there is a way for us to do our normal daily activities without you know working against mother nature I am all for that," he said.

Woofapalooza" is this Sunday, June 10th from 11am - 4pm. It will feature contests including best dressed dog and owner-dog look-alikes, plus plenty of activities for children. The cost is $10 per person or $30 for families. Proceeds benefit the save the pets humane society in Plainfield. For more details, visit www.cottonwoodfarms.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=64&Itemid=88


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