Pop! Ouch! @#^&*!!! As North Enders know all too well, stepping on a goathead or running over one with your bike is up there with root canals and taxes on the fun scale. This ground-hugging weed ambles across sidewalks and foothills trails, wreaking havoc on human and dog feet, stroller tires, and bike tires, threatening the viability of bike commuting in our city. So small, yet so seemingly powerful it is, we seem to have resigned ourselves to its existence here, like the downtown hole in the ground. It’s been here for so long we can’t remember life without it, and it will be here forevermore, so we might as well get used to it, right?
WRONG! A growing number of ordinary citizens are stepping up to take action against this invasive species and its negative impact on our quality of life. Waging war with shovels and hoes, Goathead Avengers is a group bringing together folks working to eradicate goatheads from our city. Using a grant from NENA, we were able to have a booth at the Boise Rec Fest, where we networked with hundreds of folks who abhor goatheads, many of whom already dig them up around town when they see them. We sold Goathead Avengers tshirts, and gave membership cards with tips for identifying goatheads and stickers to those willing to take the Goathead Avengers pledge.
What is this pledge? you ask. Here it is, in all its simple, empowering glory…
Goathead avengers Pledge:
As a Goathead Avenger, I vow:
*To learn to recognize Tribulus terrestris, Puncturevine, Mother of the dreaded Goathead
*To eradicate it from my own yard
*To pull it up elsewhere in my neighborhood
*To inspire others to take action toward a goathead-free city!
You may already be a Goathead Avenger! You are not alone. All over town, folks are gathering in their own neighborhoods to go on avenging parties in areas notoriously packed with goatheads. They gather and dig them up, and then enjoy potlucks or beers or other fun extras that build neighborhood cohesion while getting an important job done. Goathead Avengers links folks in different neighborhoods together through our email list and facebook site
Our remaining goals for this season include organizing a huge North End neighborhood goathead cleanup at the Fort Street Community Garden and approaching the city to create an annual citywide goathead avenging event in the late summer, with prizes for folks who bring in the most poundage of goatheads! Details for both events will go out to our FB and email list as soon as we have them.
I’d like to leave you with a few tips on identifying and eradicating goatheads. This time of year, they are easy to spot, growing low to the ground, adorned with yellow flowers and the horrendous spiky seedpods. Two things distinguish them from the other commonly mistaken culprit, Erodium, Red Stem Filaree, or Herb Robert. That plant comes up early in the spring and has pink/purple flowers. Goatheads come up later (late June-ish), and have yellow flowers. The best time to remove goatheads is before they’ve started flowering and going to seed. They are a Mediterranean plant, and their root system cannot survive our winters. So, all you have to do is chop them off at the ground with a hoe or shovel before they set seed, and they’ll be gone! The seeds, however, can live for 7-15 years in the soil, so it is crucial that we get them out before they go to seed. By now, they’re all going to seed around town, so it is important, when you do chop them off at the ground level, that you gingerly pick up the plant and get it and its seed pods into a trash bag or burn barrel.
Thank you so much, NENA, for the opportunity to expand our work in the community, and thank you to all those goathead avengers out there who are working toward a goathead free city for all!
For more information, to take the pledge, to get a Goathead Avengers tshirt (made from bamboo!) or sticker, or simply to be kept informed, please email or send us a facebook friend request, and we’ll link you up with other Goathead Avengers!
We are students from Foothills School of Arts and Sciences and are excited to do our projects to help out organizations in the North End. We received a $500 grant from the North End Neighborhood Association to put toward our Middle School Service Learning program, to use in the Spring of 2010. We have chosen three projects:
1. Help a Shelter We are working to help the Women’s and Children’s Alliance. We have researched their organization and needs, and are going to either “adopt a room” or donate needed goods to the WCA thrift shop.
2. Spruce up the Fort Boise Dog Park We have a lot of dog lovers in this group! We are collecting dog toys, leashes and are looking at donating some shade structures for pets and owners to enjoy.
3. Book Drive and Literacy Project for Kids We are donating time and books to a north end child development center (to be determined). We will buy books for their program. Each of our students will select and buy a book to donate, and we will visit the center and buddy read in April.
Our school’s mission is “Foothills School provides a vibrant learning community to students (pre-k thru 9th grade) develop personal, academic, and social responsibility – leading to a lifetime of discovery.” We feel like this will give us the chance to follow our school’s mission and help our community. Without the grant from the NENA we wouldn’t have the money to do these great projects. Thank you!
Foothills School 6th-8th graders
Special recognition to Blaise Prokop, Leah Eichhorn and Ellia Casey for contributing to the article.
For more information on these projects or Foothills School please contact the school
www.foothillsschool.org or 331-9260.