What an interesting cultural story about gardening, Anne! I love the idea of neighbors collaborating on their gardens - and, the sheep - well, having sheep to tend and enjoy is a fabulous bonus!
Americans - well, many of us - are spoiled with an abundance of land and space. Yet, I don't believe many, at least, not in Florida, try to maintain sustainable gardens. We work too long at our jobs and commute too far so we can live in the country and then not have time to enjoy living in the country.
We are also spoiled with plentiful and relatively inexpensive produce in the markets. Why break your back in a garden when you can buy everything you need and probably cheaper from the grocer?
Most people I know only plant for beauty, other than maybe a few tomatoes or herbs.
My experience in Florida has been, when I did plant a vegetable garden, that everything and anything tries to destroy what you grow. Bugs, rodents, rabbits, deer, and raccoons. The insects are shredding machines that will strip a plant in a few hours. And, then there are all the various other blights and a host of tangling, strangling weeds. It's very difficult to grow organically here without being a full-time gardener.
Many years ago, my first husband and I lived in the country and planted a large garden two years running. We planted corn, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, red potatoes, watermelon, and green beans, as well as some blueberries and strawberries.
Our only true success was yellow squash - we had bushels and bushels of yellow squash! A few zucchini survived and a handful of blueberries. Nothing else came to fruition.
My husband blamed me because I would not allow chemicals or the shooting of rabbits and the other critters that dined on our tender plants. We also were plagued with a variety of fungal diseases.
I haven't even had luck growing patio tomatoes or herbs! Always too hot, too dry, too wet.
Now, the university in my city does have a communal garden for campus residents, but I have no idea what they grow. But, the gardens look lush!
Thanks so much for sharing this with us. Your story of garden collaborations warmed my heart.