Cutting the grass was one of those household chores that had a special significance for my brothers and me in high school: My father owned about eight acres in New Jersey, a full five of which were covered with grass.
For some reason, I always pulled push-mower cutting duties (the stuff where the riding mower couldn’t reach). So, it was with special interest that I interviewed Jon Jackson, the president of Global Neighbor, a company in Wilberforce, Ohio, working on alternative approaches to lawn-care products.
(Jon Jackson with the NatureCut lawn mower.) Global Neighbor’s flagship product is NatureCut, a battery-operated mower that Jackson says uses less energy because of the way the blades are deployed. If you look underneath, you’ll see what look like scissors or shears, instead of the long sickle-like blade under traditional mowers. “If you use a shear, you use one-third to one-tenth the energy to cut the grass,” Jackson says.
Initially, Global Neighbor started with the idea of refining the design for a reel mower, which obviously is the most energy-efficient way to keep a lawn trimmed. But Jackson said if the grass grows beyond a certain height, it becomes almost impossible to cut well. Changing to the shears introduces all sorts of new possibilities.
A NatureCut model that holds a 30 minute charge costs $479, while the 60-minute-charge version is $529. Right now, you have to buy them off the company’s Web site and they’re shipped to you. While he wouldn’t tell me how many mowers the company has sold, Jackson reports that the highest concentration of customers are from his local community in Dayton as well as pockets in the Northeast (Massachusetts, Vermont) and Northwest (Washington, Oregon).
The company’s second product is NatureZap, a thermogenic way for getting rid of pesky weeds. It works by heating certain parts of the root, root crown and leaves up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows natural threats to the weed (such as fungus) to do their stuff and destroy the plant.
(Weed-be-gone, the non-chemical way.)
NatureZap retails for $199.95.
Global Neighbor is also researching other non-chemical approaches to lawncare, including natural fertilizers and such. “The lawn industry is just rife with pollution and it’s generally unregulated,” Jackson said. “We’re looking at all the things you need to do to the lawn.”
The company is part of the National Environmental Technology Incubator, which is part of Central State University in Wilberforce.