The Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden allows people of all ages and physical abilities to discover the benefits of planting and picking their own produce.

Photo by Jeff Fitlow

Someone once said, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes.” In Rice’s Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden, you get 24 different types of tomatoes as well as a plethora of other vegetables, herbs, flowers, and an orchard of fig and citrus trees in the half-acre site. Located next to the Rice Media Center, the garden is maintained by Joe Novak, a leading horticulture expert, and Sam Stamport, a Texas gardening aficionado. Novak, who coined the term “sociohorticulture,” which examines the psychosocial effects plants and gardening have on humans, works with a rotating crew of volunteers to assemble irrigation systems, fertilize, plant, prune and pick as well as perform routine maintenance. Much of the garden’s produce ends up in Rice’s serveries, and for those undergraduates who want to dig a little deeper, Novak teaches Environmental Sustainability: The Design and Practice of Community Agriculture, a one-hour course offered each spring and fall.
Photo: Jeff Fitlow

Catch a glimpse of the Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden, where teams of students led by Joe Novak gain firsthand knowledge about irrigation, crop rotation, pest control and growing produce, with a focus on sustainability and inclusivity: