On a humid July morning, the owner of Green Wheel Lawn Care bikes up to Bill and Betty Ingram’s house on the corner of Brooklyn and Westminster in Burns Park.
On a trailer behind him Jeff Monchamp tows an electric lawn mower, two rakes, a broom, a shovel, an edger, and other hand tools. He just came from his last job on Morton, where he cut down some forty-year-old lilac bushes.
“It’s important that my clients are all close,” says Monchamp, since the loaded trailer weighs several hundred pounds. He says he’s always been bothered by “the amount of pollution that we [cause] in landscaping”–not just from pickup trucks, but from gas-powered mowers and blowers. “They’re worse than cars,” he says. “Even a typical 3.5-horsepower gasoline engine is really, really bad as far as pollution.”
He calls his electric- and hand-powered alternative “zero carbon lawn care” and says that “a lot of people are starting to wake up to it.” But he adds, “I think I’m the only one crazy enough to go around on a bicycle.”
This spring and summer, his first season, he lined up about twenty clients, mostly by word of mouth. Eventually he hopes to double that, adding an employee and a second bike. “I like physical labor. I like to make people happy and make the place look nice,” he says. “I’m also reducing people’s carbon footprint, and that’s important.”
Come fall, Monchamp will switch from mowing lawns to raking leaves–by hand, no blowers. “But you’d be surprised how efficiently I can remove all the leaves off your property,” he says. “And there will be zero pollution, zero noise, zero dust.”
He still doesn’t know what he’ll do for a living come winter. “We’re still working on that,” he says.