Tradeja: Joining the barter economy

Last fall when the economy tanked, folks began to think more deliberately about what they really need to live. Our sudden stumble into hard times exposed a nerve: if I lost everything, how would I secure food, clothing, shelter, medicine?

Tradeja eggs for honey

When you start thinking at that basic level, money becomes increasingly beside the point. Indeed, we know in the back of our minds that currency is a mere proxy for goods and services. Without actual stuff, it’s just paper and promises.

But beyond that primal fear, it’s an interesting exercise to see if you can find a value for the goods and services themselves in a money-free marketplace. In other words, to barter.

I started experimenting with bartering here and there a few years ago. A friend of mine has a home delivery dog food service with very high-quality ingredients that I know I can trust for the health of my pupster. He and his family love my eggs, so I bartered down the price of my dog food by paying him partially in eggs. And a few months ago, when I learned that a neighbor was keeping bees in his backyard and harvesting honey, we traded eggs for honey.

Tradeja a rosemary and eucalyptus wreath. This one from last year still hangs on my kitchen door. On damp days, the fragrance is divine.

As the holidays approach, a friend and I agreed the other day to trade eucalyptus from my tree for the long, gorgeous rosemary boughs she grows on her enormous bushes. Yet another neighbor brings her family’s kitchen scraps to my compost bins almost daily. And when she started her vegetable garden last spring, I repaid her contributions in finished compost. Bartering encourages a kind of interconnectedness that operates almost like a healthy little ecosystem.

Sometimes I think of it not so much in terms of a direct trade, but a micro-economy that eschews the large corporate presence which feed and feed on our addictions. When I have eggs to spare, I sell them to friends and neighbors, and that’s the money I take to the store to buy more chicken feed. Or if there is some left over, I buy cheese from a friend who keeps goats.

Tradeja a giant wreath of evergreen, pine cones, and winterberry

But really, I’d rather trade directly for other things I want and need. So let’s get started, readers: anyone up for an exchange of goods and/or services? I have eggs, some canned goods, and some fresh produce here and there. What do you have? What can we trade? Do any of you knit or sew? Are you crafty? The holidays are upon us. Can you save yourself and a few others some miserable trips to the mall?

And if you have participated in some good, creative, mutually beneficial barters, inspire us–share your stories!

Let the barters begin . . .

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5 Comments

Filed under Community and Citizenship

5 responses to “Tradeja: Joining the barter economy

  1. During the 1980’s, I lived as a single gal behind Agnes Scott College on East Davis Drive. I built a log cabin there and as a hobby raised South American chickens who laid pastel colored eggs. My favorite “task” was delivering fresh eggs to my urban neighbors on the street. Unfortunately a pit bull by the name of Franklin moved in next door to me. His favorite hobby was eating chickens. I soon developed a new hobby . . .

    Love,
    LJ

  2. I know that house! Right off the PATH, no? I think another house recently got built right in front of it, so it no longer seems quite so secluded as it did. I was a student at Agnes Scott in the 1980s, so we might have been neighbors, in a sense.

    You had Araucanas. We have four of them and love the “Easter eggs.”

  3. That’s correct. . . Araucanas. A full dozen to start with. My log home was one of the largest houses on the street at one time. Now it is one of the smallest. I loved the location. The Path was built in the last couple years that I lived there. It was such a groovy scene, being able to walk 1/2 block to the observatory, or a few blocks to visit with Eddie Owen at Trackside Tavern. We were indeed neighbors and perhaps even tipped a beer or two without event realizing it! Imagine.

  4. Yep, Eddie served me my first legal beer at Trackside–a longneck Bud. I still have the label stashed somewhere in a scrapbook. I love that cabin of yours–always thought it was an inspired little place, and now I know who the inspiration was!

  5. Pingback: These Are a Few of My Favorite Trades «

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