FRESH GREENS UNDER THE SARASOTA SUNSHINE, neighbors trading peppers and tomatoes from their plots and some juicy pineapples—the universal symbol of hospitality—peeking from their spiny foliage by the front gate, the Bayou Oaks Community Garden has a little something for everyone, granted they’re willing to till the ground themselves. Today, the Community Gardens Program stewards seven communal gardens throughout the county, ranging from Northport to Nokomis, but the plots at Bayou Oaks started it all. Created in 1997 and celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Bayou Oaks community garden brings neighboring green thumbs together for an opportunity to grow their own produce and maybe spark some new friendships in the process. It’s “building a community around food,” says Community Gardens Program Coordinator Stacy Spriggs, and gardening makes a great icebreaker. “People share all the time,” she says. “If you have extra cabbage and you don’t eat all of it, then you trade it.” Some, like retiree-transplant Fred Herschede, find the plots relaxing, working the garden’s fresh compost into the earth as he prepares for the coming cool season, when collards, cabbage, cauliflower and various herbs come in strong. Always in demand, plots only cost $25 for a year, but the wait list is almost always lengthy.