Following the Renaissance practice of using animals to clear land for planting, the Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies recently employed the Amherst-based firm Goat Girls to clear the way for a new grotto near the center’s garden and orchard complex.

goatsThe tribe of goats chomped their way through bittersweet, poison ivy and all manner of unwanted invasive plants to make way for the grotto. When the 15-foot diameter structure made with Goshen stone is finished, it will have plantings and a water feature, according to center staffers. The goats were provided by Hope Crolius, principal of Artemis Garden Consultants in Amherst.

The center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors can pick up a packet in the lobby, which will guide you through the gardens and grounds. The center is located at 650 East Pleasant St.