Mission StatementNovak photo

The goal of the Holistic Garden is to provide a place where anyone can learn how to garden and how to use the garden to improve the quality of their life and the lives of others. It can also be used as a tool to bring about improvements in neighborhoods and urban areas.

Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden

The Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden was established in 2018 by the Houston Jewish Community Foundation on behalf of the estate of Betty Friedman and cultivated under the tutelage of Joe Novak, who is widely regarded as one of Texas's leading horticulture experts. The site is open to the public for those eager to learn how to garden in the Houston climate or for those lifelong gardeners enthusiastic to learn new gardening methods. Care and tending of the garden is maintained by volunteers made up of Rice students, faculty and staff and local community members, and much of the produce is served to Rice students in their residential serveries.


Joseph Novak, Ph.D., is the director of the Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden. Dr. Novak has a doctorate from Cornell University and served on the faculty of Texas A&M University where he created the area of sociohorticulture. Since 2014, he has been an adjunct professor and lecturer in the Biosciences Department at Rice, where he teaches BIOS 204, advises students in special project activities, and is faculty sponsor of the Rice Urban Agriculture club.