Neighbors Share Common Bonds

What do Vida, Oregon, neighbors John Farkus, Biff Owen, Ted West, Gene Jones, Jim Goodpasture, Kameron Maxwell and David Cousineau have in common? For one thing, on any given Saturday they can be found using Walker Mowers to manicure their landscapes.

It’s unusual for so many neighbors to use the same brand. But they say it’s pragmatic to the bone since their mowers are both versatile and deliver a great cut. Retired radiologist John Farkus and well-and-pump service provider Ted West became the neighborhood’s first Walker Mower user more than 12 years ago. Since then, a strip of land along the scenic MacKenzie River has seemingly sprouted the yellow machines.


“I purchased mine after my lawn guy gave me a tip,” relates Farkus. “It takes me 45 minutes to mow my yard, the cuttings of which I dump along a fence line.”

West, who co-owns his machine with Jones, mows four acres of turf every week and employs a second deck to mulch between Christmas trees on his property. “Gene (Jones) and I share capital costs and maintenance,” he remarks. “Gene changes the oil and I shuttle the mower back and forth between us.”

Neighbors share other common bonds beyond mower preference and taking pride in their properties. “We have a tremendous camaraderie,” explains Elizabeth Cousineau who, with husband, David, Elizabeth and David Cousineau started their landscape maintenance business in 2004 after moving to Vida from Seattle.  “We love the outdoors. Most of us like to hunt and fish, and we all enjoy each other’s company. It’s just a great place to live.”


The Cousineaus are the only ones in the neighborhood who use their mowers commercially. They moved to Vida from Seattle in 2004 where David managed a nonprofit group, something he had been doing for years. “It seems that I was spending 90 percent of my time raising funds and 10 percent working with the people,” he recalls. “So we moved here and purchased a small lawn maintenance business. Lawns don’t talk back and then ask you to raise money. All they want is a little fertilizer.”

The Cousineaus immediately took a cue from Farkus and West and started to build their business around Walker Mowers. “We purchased one almost immediately and soon realized it wasn’t a mistake,” David relates. “I had just finished a property and was pulling into a parking lot when a passerby made a u-turn behind me. He pulled up next to me and asked if I was the contractor who mowed the yard down the street. The mowing job sold him and soon sold most every customer we now have.”

In fact, the Cousineaus say the Walker Mower’s cut has become their signature. The company provides a turnkey program to primarily residential customers, one that includes landscape installation, tree care, fertilization and dethatching, among other services. It’s the well-manicured lawns, however, that frame the picture and are what customers most remember.

Caring Catalyst

Little things add up and not everything has to relate to plant life. David explains, “My dad once told me that ‘people don’t care what you know, unless they know that you care.’ In other words, the equipment you use and the knowledge you have will only get you so far.”

The right combination of caring and executing is unbeatable. Gardens by Elizabeth maintains 40 properties with two Walker Mowers, a 26-hp gas model and a diesel which the company purchased four years ago. “The diesel gives us a little more torque to help cut through tall, wet grass in the spring, and to maneuver over the many hills we have around here,” says David. The husband-and-wife team overcome other challenges, as well, including a high water table and natural springs that will suddenly pop to the surface.


“Sometimes wild animals can be a nuisance, too,” adds Elizabeth. “This year, three deer actually jumped right over me while I was mowing.” David has experienced wild turkeys and nutria (river rats) blocking his mowing path. Neighbors share stories of elk herds roaming the countryside. There’s even a cougar or two to keep operators attentive.

While the owners mow around flora and fauna obstacles, their two employees, Sam and Master Gardener Sabena, take care of details. The company name reflects Elizabeth’s love of gardening, something she has done almost her entire life. She and David emphasize that having the business has been a perfect fit for the two of them, adding that their immediate goal is to consolidate their routes and maintain more properties right along the MacKenzie River.

In that regard, they’ve become their own biggest competitor by picking up what neighbors Farkus and Best started 12 years ago. Having another couple in the neighborhood with Walker Mowers adds to the yellow mystique. Yet it also encourages would-be customers to forego a lawn service in favor of keeping up with the Joneses and friends. 

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