Spiritual Gardener was one of only twenty books that have advanced to the BookLife Prize for Nonfiction Semifinals! Click to the right to learn more about BookLife.

Spiritual Gardener

We are proud to announce our illustrator Abigail Drapkin!

Abigail Drapkin is a fine artist originally from Midcoast Maine. Her work focuses on human interactions with the natural world and the built environment through dream-like paintings, prints, and videos. Abigail holds an MFA in Painting + Drawing from the University of Washington and a BA in Studio Art and French from Brandeis University. She taught fine art classes at Artworks Fine Art Studio in San Francisco, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the University of Washington. Abigail has exhibited in group shows and solo showcases throughout San Francisco, Seattle, and Singapore. Follow her work on Instagram @AbigailDrapkinArt and at www.abigaildrapkin.com.

Testimonials for Spiritual Gardener!

Dr. Loss Pequeño Glazier

In The Spiritual Gardener, Becker’s prose reads without resistance, plying between the natural present and centuries of wisdom with insightful ease. His words slip into the reader’s soul as deftly as pumpkin or squash seeds, or are nested in sentient soil like carrot grains on fertile seed tape. Here flower these meditations nurtured from Jewish roots and insightful horticultural dexterity. The book is divided into sections as natural and rhythmic as planting; its fruit bursts forth, cultivated, verdant, and ripe. As words are seeds themselves, this book offers from its leaves a bounty of horticultural wisdom, practical tips, spiritual inspiration, and a bounteous harvest.

Dr. Loss Pequeño GlazierProfessor Emeritus, SUNY Buffalo, Digital Poetics (Alabama UP) and Anatman, Pumpkin Seed, Algorithm (Salt)
Kirk R. Brown

The Spiritual Gardener is the perfect read for anyone who continues to wonder why he or she sticks fingers in the dirt and prays that a seed will grow. This inspirational miracle of horticultural prose is accompanied by evocative water color illustrations and meaningful religious quotations. I will gift this book to others who continue to ask me why I do what I do. It puts words to every gardener’s life and experience since Adam graced Eden.

Kirk R. BrownConversationist on Gardening Art, History and Business Leader of Programming as John Bartram and Frederick Law Olmsted Award-Winning Designer, Speaker, and Dramatist
Rabbi J. L. Mirel

When you open this book you will be amazed at the wisdom of its author Andrew Becker who combines profound knowledge of gardening with a deep love of Jewish wisdom and spirituality. The quotations that he shares from the Torah, the Midrash and the Chasidic Masters blend in seamlessly into the pragmatic suggestions on how to improve your horticultural skills. The Torah begins with Adam and Eve in the perfect Garden, with the help of this book you will find yourself transported to that primordial setting or at least closer to it. Digging in the earth is holy work. Enjoy this wonderful book and give as a gift to like-minded friends and family members. Highly recommended.

Rabbi J. L. MirelAuthor of “Stepping Stones to Jewish Spiritual Living” (Jewish Lights)

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Chapter 1: Gan Edan


Now the Lord God took man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and preserve it.

Genesis 2:15

The Garden of Eden is missing in our experience, but can we turn a finite stretch of dirt into something wondrous?  If the Master of the Universe turned nothingness into perfection, can we feeble imitators transform an unused plot of ground into a beautiful garden?

We are overstimulated, pulled in all directions, unable to digest all the news and information that bombards us.  We fight traffic, repetitively read and update our smart devices, rush here and there, act conflicted, and sometimes forget to breathe.  Even if we possess all of the material necessities, we may still suffer a longing.  We lack something important.  We are missing tranquility. Peace is nowhere to be found.

We can find tranquility in the garden.  What happens when we come home from a hard day’s labor and we take a moment to water the vegetables?  We experience the completeness we felt when the vegetable bed was weeded and planted.  We nurture and honor creation.  We observe nature and experience joy.  The moment is not wasted.  We experience the beneficence of the garden.    

If humanity succumbed to where we find ourselves today after being born into a perfect world, why shouldn’t we travel in the opposite direction, heavenward, while here on earth? There is much to be gained in the process.  We cannot start to redeem humanity by repairing the world until we redeem ourselves by noticing what is right around us.  

With a connection to the garden we remind ourselves that we are part of the natural world.  With simple tools, a shovel and a rake, we orchestrate what happens to a little plot of earth. We link to the natural world.  We feel our muscles and smell the dirt.  

We decide what to grow; for instance, broccoli. Our thoughts of weeding, planting, and watering the broccoli turns into action. We visualize the broccoli and we get to work.  We are the thinkers and the doers.  The broccoli does not think about growing.  Like the broccoli, all the other vegetables that we plant follow their natural course without intention or thought.    We choose how to spend our time.  Why shouldn’t we spend time creating a beautiful garden?  Creation starts with an idea.  

Where is your spot of earth?  Every piece of land and every person is unique.  Every season and every harvest is different.  Your garden will be like no other.  Your garden will generate warmth, wonderment, and appreciation.  

The first step may be the simple determination to move forward.  With a shovel and a rake, a trowel and a hand tool to help with weeding, you are in business. After that, pick a sunny spot, the sunnier the better.  A flat spot is better than a sloping spot.  If you are stuck with a slope, plant across to catch the rain and keep the soil from washing away.  A lot of mulch will also help the soil.  It is going to get hot in the summer, so make sure you are near a faucet with a hose that reaches where it needs to go.  Plant what you like to eat.  Peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and beets are easy to grow.  Watch how the sun shines across the garden.  Try to run your rows north and south for fullest exposure.  Keep the taller plants to the back and graduate down to the shorter plants.

You are participating in a tradition as old as humankind.  You have taken a divine step.  The food you grow will invariably lead you to thanksgiving and engagement.  You are inviting the Master of the Universe to His garden.  

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