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New River Valley Medical Center employs sheep to care for solar panel field

Giles County sheep will care for lawn in Radford

RADFORD – A local hospital has figured out a creative way to save money and be eco-friendly. 

A Giles County shepherd brought sheep to the New River Valley Medical Center in Radford to maintain the grass in the center’s new solar panel field.

Scott Blankenship, Carilion's director of facility and support services, said the solar panels were installed six months ago and have already saved the hospital $100,000 on energy costs.

He explained sometimes even the most high-tech inventions need a little old-fashioned touch to keep it going.

“It sets a yin and a yang perspective and we have to figure out a way to continue to have a balance with both technology and our environment,” Blankenship said.

Amanda Neice, a shepherd of another flock in Giles County and member of the New River Sheep and Goat club brought the sheep for a fellow farmer to the site Thursday. She said sheep are often the perfect solutions for lawn care projects like the solar panels. She explained unlike goats, they will not harm the equipment. Despite a multitude of newer lawn care services, she said utilizing sheep is sometime the perfect solution, even in the 21st century.

“You do have high technology which is the solar panels, and then you have old-world culture where sheep do their thing and that's just graze and take care of the grass,” Neice said.

The sheep will stay there for several weeks, then return home until they are needed again to work.
 


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