Citizen Science

The Holistic Garden aims to be a model urban sustainable farm and educational hub for the Rice community as well as local gardeners and urban farmers in Houston. Our citizen science projects help us achieve this goal by inviting our community members to share data about their gardens that can be analyzed and distilled by our Garden staff into publicly available educational resources.

What Is Citizen Science?

Citizen science harnesses the power of ordinary people to collect or analyze data that is used to advance scientific knowledge and increase the public's understanding of science. It is also commonly referred to as "community science," "crowdsourced science," and "public participation in scientific research."

Anyone can be a citizen scientist. Although citizen scientists are typically not professional scientists, citizen science enables members of the public to collaborate with scientific experts and contribute to meaningful scientific research.

Citizen Science at the Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden

Citizen science1

Join our Plant Variety Project!

Each Spring and Fall, our Garden holds a Plant Sale of many different varieties of seasonal crops. Although our sales feature hundreds of varieties that were chosen because they are suitable to Houston’s climate, we know from our experience in the Holistic Garden that some varieties do better than others. But until now, we have not yet had a way of determining how well specific varieties do in our community members’ home gardens.

Our Plant Variety Project uses citizen science to provide our community with information about which varieties have performed the best and produced the highest quality produce.

Participants in our Plant Variety Project will be asked to report on the growing conditions, pest susceptibility, yield, flavor, and uses of one or more plant varieties they purchased at our Spring or Fall Plant Sale.

In collecting community feedback on plant varieties purchased at our Sales, we seek to create a community-based resource that enables our community members to make more informed purchases and enjoy a more bountiful harvest of their home-grown produce. We will also use this data to help improve our plant selections for future Plant Sales and better support our future customers.

Sign up now to participate in our Fall Vegetable Plant Variety Project

How It Works

1. Buy one or more plants at the Holistic Garden's Fall or Spring Vegetable Plant Sale.

Tip: Don't forget to keep a record of each plant variety you bought! Take a picture of the label or make a note of the variety name on your phone. Some examples of plant varieties include Cabbage 'Savoy Ace', Kale 'Casper', and Broccoli 'Destiny'. A complete list of plant varieties in our most recent sale is available on our Plant Sales page.

2. Begin caring for your plants as you normally would.

3. First check-in. Two weeks after the plant sale, you will receive a survey that asks you to report on the growing conditions of your plants.

Reach out to Garden Staff at if you have any questions or concerns along the way.

4. Second check-in. Six weeks after the plant sale, you will receive a survey that asks you to report on the disease susceptibility, yield, flavor profile, and uses of each of your plant varieties.

5. Check your email or this webpage in late December/early January to see the results of our research.

Fall 2022 Plant Sale Results