Greenwise Lawn Care provided a season of snow-removal to an Evanston household selected by its customers. Photo from Greenwise

An elderly Evanston couple will be safer and more mobile this snowbound winter thanks to the generosity of a local company and the kindness of a vigilant neighbor. Greenwise Organic Lawn Care of Evanston is providing free snow removal for two senior citizens whose neighbor nominated them in a Greenwise search for deserving candidates in need of such help.

The offer calls on the company’s Zero Tolerance service, which contracts with clients to clear ice and snow from Nov. 1 through March 31. Snow removal affords year-round work for employees who otherwise could be hired only on a seasonal basis. In the last year, Greenwise has watched COVID devastate too many small businesses. Grateful not only to have survived but to have been able to retain all their employees during the pandemic, Greenwise looked for a way to express their gratitude.

            The company “want[s] to ensure we give back to the community as we can,” says Austin Hall, owner and president of Greenwise. They decided to offer a winter’s worth of free snow removal and invited their clients to nominate as a beneficiary someone they considered exemplary and in need of such a service – like a senior citizen on a fixed income.

            A company committee reviewed the submissions and chose the one that resonated the most. It came from Anthony, an Evanstonian and long-time Greenwise client, who wrote: “…we immediately thought of our neighbors. They are an elderly couple, and last year the wife fell, and now she needs a walker to get to her car.”

            The email expresses the writer’s fear that the wife might fall on icy pavement when she has to leave home for medical appointments. He worries that the husband, too, risks falling in winter as he “gingerly walks” to the detached garage he has converted to a tool shed where he pursues his hobby of “building things with his hands.”

            Calling them “the sweetest couple,” the Greenwise client further notes that they are on a fixed income, making them in his mind “the perfect recipient of Greenwises’s outstanding service.” The Greenwise team agreed.

Greenwise, started in 2007 by Marc Wise out of the back of his Volkswagon, was the first organic lawn care company in Evanston. It is still the only one that is 100 percent organic, though others offer organic in addition to chemical services, says Robyn McMurray Hurtig, director of community engagement.

It’s not easy being green. Seventeen years after its founding, Greenwise as a true organic entity is still in the minority at industry trade shows, she says. Their goal is to create sustainable landscapes that do not rely on toxic chemicals harmful to people, pets and the environment. They offer a weed management program using only natural elements as well as a five-step fertilization plan to build up turf so that it can outcompete unwanted plants.

Their eco-friendly approach to snow and ice also relies on products that are safe for people and pets and have a gentle impact on soil and vegetation. Greenwise ice melt is a blend of chlorides that start melting snow and ice faster than rock salt, resist refreeze without leaving a residue and are effective to -16 degrees. When used as a pre-treatment, the ice melt can minimize ice and snow accumulation, thus lessening the number of applications necessary to clear icy surfaces.

Mr. Wise’s small venture has blossomed to employ around 50 people and to offer expertise on an organic approach to everything from landscape design to insect control. He and his family moved to Cleveland in November, but he will continue to consult with the company that bears his name.