Tony Becker's fascination with plants started at a very young age. In fact, his first word was "flower." This moment marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for gardening. However, after a life-altering accident that left him a quadriplegic, Tony knew there were many life challenges ahead, including the possibility of never gardening again. His determination and love for gardening led him to reverse engineer traditional tools and find innovative ways to pursue his passion.
As a child, Tony planted beans in his mother’s houseplants, which later led to maintaining a rather large garden on his parents’ property throughout childhood. Some kids brought books, playing cards, or a favorite stuffed animal with them to summer camp; not Tony. Since he would be missing out on growing season, he took seeds to grow tomatoes and radishes. His passion for plants eventually led him to pursue a degree in crop sciences at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, followed by graduate studies at the University of Illinois.
On the way to his first final as a graduate student, he flipped his truck on black ice, leaving him quadriplegic. Facing the loss of mobility and independence, he fell into depression, believing that his gardening days were over.
After months of therapy, Tony returned to his studies and earned his PhD in bioinformatics. His passion for gardening never waned, but the challenge of using conventional tools led him to find innovative solutions. He began modifying garden tools to suit his needs and created custom tools to allow him to tend to his plants with more ease.
Tony's journey with gardening as a quadriplegic was marked by trial and error. Some tools didn't work as expected, while others proved more effective. He continues to find joy and fulfillment in nurturing his garden beds and plans to keep gardening for as long as he is able.