The Rice Community Garden was created by students in 1999 with the help of the Rice community and Houston gardeners. It was sponsored by the Rice Student Volunteer Program (RSVP) and the Center for the Study of Environment and Society (CSES), with additional support from Facilities Engineering and Planning.
Each fall and spring, Dr. Joseph Novak leads a course, "EBIO/ENST 204 Environmental Sustainability: The Design and Practice of Community Agriculture." This course, co-instructed by Nancy Rowe, introduces students to the fundamentals of community garden design and practice. Students' responsibilities center on developing and improving the Rice Community Gardens. There is a strong emphasis on learning and applying ecological principles to the practice of community agriculture. Topics change each semester, but include issues such as pest control and food web ecology, sustainable soil, and methods for maximizing yield in an urban environment. Students form gardening teams, each of which manages one of the three current campus gardens. Within these groups, garden management includes: garden design and crop planning/rotation, effective soil building and composting, organic and sustainable weed and pest control, and creating habitat to attract beneficial insects.
The Rice University Campus is home to four community gardens: (1) Martel Garden, on Sunset Boulevard behind Martel College; (2) Hanszen Garden, on Alumni Drive near Hanszen College and alongside the South Servery; (3) Wiess Garden, on the curve of Alumni Drive, at the perimeter of Wiess College. (4) In 2018, the Betty and Jacob Friedman Holistic Garden was launched near the Rice Media Center. The gardens are maintained by Rice University faculty, staff, students, and supporters from the community.