If you belong to a community garden, you know the benefits you reap from membership extend far beyond a bountiful harvest. Taking part in a community garden is an amazing way to engage with your neighborhood and support green spaces-even (and especially!) if you live in a “concrete jungle.”

What exactly is a community garden? It’s generally a green space collectively owned and cultivated by members of a neighborhood. Joining is simple: the requirement is typically a reasonable monthly or annual fee. To find a community garden in your area, check out the American Community Gardening Association’s map.

Each gardener may grow a small vegetable plot (victory garden style) or the project may encompass a larger share of land, where community members work to preserve green space. You don’t need to be an expert gardener to participate. A willingness to learn and to make your neighborhood a better place are the only essentials!

Need more convincing to join a community garden? Here are just a few ways that taking part in this sort of project can be beneficial to you AND your community:

1. An urban dweller’s retreat.

Living in a cramped city apartment apartment doesn’t often lend itself to gardening. What’s an urban green thumb to do? Join a community garden, of course! While fire escape and rooftop gardens are great, your options for planting are limited. Break away from container gardening and get your own plot of land in the community garden. If you miss the feeling of digging your hands deep down in the soil and planting rows, a patch of ground in the neighborhood garden is pure magic.

2. Community-building.

Break out of your shell and get to know your neighbors as you plant and harvest side-by-side in your shared green space. Belonging to a community garden fosters long-lasting relationships with members of the community united by a common passion. One of the greatest benefits of taking part in this type of project involves the friendships that grow out of it. The garden brings together people of all different backgrounds and gives the neighborhood a stronger identity and sense of purpose. Working the land alongside your neighbors is also a wonderful learning experience. As you experience successes and failures in your own garden patch, there’s always someone to turn to for encouragement or advice.

3. Abundant food resource.

Community gardens serve as a nutritious source for fresh produce in the neighborhood. Harvest from the garden can feed local families, cutting down on grocery bills and/or providing an alternative source for income. Some community gardens even donate their harvests to a local food cupboard. Eating lots of locally grown produce promotes a healthier diet and has even been shown to lower asthma rates, as it provides exposure to reasonable rates of local pollen and creates a resistance to it.

4. Beautiful, safe green space.

A community garden can create a vibrant, natural haven even in the center of a smog-filled metropolis. They provide an escape from pollution that’s typical of urban spaces (noise, air, water), restoring oxygen to the air and filtering rainwater. They’ve even been shown to lower crime rates and increase the value of homes bordering the garden. A community garden simply makes the neighborhood more beautiful. Just the sight of these thriving plots of land spreads an appreciation for nature and inspires would-be gardeners in the community.