Tending to the Earth: Gardening Grounds Us in Today’s Times


By Joan Plisko, Community Sustainability Director

As a human-beings on planet Earth during the global pandemic of 2020, we are all experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions. One of the most grounding activities that brings me emotional solace during good times, and even more so during the uncertain times we are living in today, is gardening. And while we each walk a separate path in life and on Earth, one of the universal acts that brings us together is tilling the soil.

Gardening is literally bending down and tending soil. And it is inherently a Jewish act. There is a clear connection between the first human being or earthling, adam and the soil or earth, adamah. Growing out of the soil is what it means to be human and is the most central tenet to Judaism.

Gardening is a distinctly Jewish act for other reasons as well. Our mission as Jews is to serve and protect the garden or to be Shomrei Adamah – guardians of the earth.

Judaism Connects Us to the Earth

Judaism has a historical and biblical connection to agriculture. In fact, in the six orders of the Mishnah – a recording of Jewish oral history, the first order is Seeds – Zarayim. The first order of the Mishnah regards the laws relating to agriculture. When Jews went to document oral tradition, the first thing they wrote about was gardening!

Jewish holidays mark and honor the agricultural cycle. The shalosh regalim – or three central holidays – Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot mark the beginning, middle, and end of growing seasons. Judaism is a religion celebrating the agricultural work of the harvest. There is even Tu’Bshvat – a holiday that celebrates the birthday of trees.

In addition to connectedness and Living Judaism, gardening is also an expression of loving warmth for oneself, one’s family and friends, and Earth itself. Gardening teaches humility, gratitude, responsibility, and hard work. It instills in us a sense of interconnectedness with the world and the call to be responsible stewards of this planet.

Gardening reminds us to pay attention to the seasons, the weather and to relish the dirt underneath our fingernails. Time outside in the garden allows moments of deep introspection and quiet satisfaction that are hard to find elsewhere.

Bring a Garden Home Through Pearlstone

As Shomrei Adamah, Pearlstone’s mission is to ignite Jewish passion while connecting people with the land and Jewish values. The food we prepare honors the bounty of our seasons, the traditions of our ancestors and the integrity of sustainable agriculture.

The Certified Organic produce grown on our land is a feature of our newly launched Pearlstone Kitchen fresh farm-to-table meal delivery service.

Not only can you enjoy meals that are comforting, nourishing, and delicious in your own home, you can show your appreciation to a Healthcare Hero by donating a Mitzvah Meal as part of our partnership with LifeBridge Health. Join this expression of gratitude and nourish these caregivers while they care for those in need.

Our peaceful retreat center, sustainable farm, and dynamic programming enable and inspire vibrant Jewish life.  We accomplish this through Loving Warmth, Connectedness, and Living Judaism. Our new Grow Your Own gardening program is an extension of that.

I invite you all to grab some soil, a shovel, a container planter, some seeds, and start (or continue) your gardening journey today. Pearlstone educators are at the ready to support you. We are posting garden videos on the Pearlstone Online website, created a private Facebook group Grow Your Own (moderated by our Farmer Educator), and organized a dedicated e-mail list to share resources. Please connect and join us!

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