Take a drive through the countryside, and you’ll see that many rural residents plant their own gardens. This is certainly not a new trend. Those who own their own land have long enjoyed the benefits of growing fruits and vegetables for their families and friends, and sometimes to sell.

Those who live in the city are often unable to plant gardens. Apartment dwellers don’t usually have access to land to use, and even those who live in houses often have little or no acreage to work with. But with the growing popularity of community gardens, city residents can enjoy the benefits of planting their own veggies.

A community garden is simply a garden in which multiple parties participate. The land it’s on may be owned by an individual, an organization or the local government, but it is usually run by the gardeners. There are numerous benefits to joining a community garden. These include:

* Community gardens provide nutritious fresh produce for the gardeners. Many promote organic gardening methods, which produce much healthier vegetables than those that are grown on most commercial farms.

* Those who grow vegetables in a community garden can save money on food. Growing your own crops is much less expensive than buying them at the grocery store. And if another gardener is growing something that you want, you could negotiate a trade.

* Gardening is a learning experience for urban dwellers. Few of them have experience with growing their own foods, so it provides an opportunity to learn something new. Kids can also learn lots of things by participating in a community garden, including math and business skills and environmental responsibility.

* You can sell some of the food you grow in a community garden if you so desire. This is a wonderful way to make extra money.

* Community gardens are good for the environment. They produce oxygen and help reduce air pollution. They can also reduce waste, since tree trimmings, grass clippings and other organic materials that would otherwise be dumped can be used as fertilizer.

* Joining a community garden is a wonderful way to meet and socialize with others in your community. It gives those of different ages, races and backgrounds the opportunity to work together toward a common goal and learn from one another.

* By participating in a community garden, you are helping to add beauty to the community. Green space is rare in most of the communities that host community gardens, and by contributing to its development, you help provide a sanctuary from the stresses of the city.

Community gardens bring crops into areas where they’re not usually found. But they also provide many more intangible benefits to city residents. Getting involved with a community garden is good for your health, the environment, and your community.