I’ve always found great merit in the trade-and-barter system of old. In my opinion, money only serves as a means to an end. You don’t need money, you just need it to buy things. Everything. It has no real value. I understand its pragmatic use in modern society, mind you, but I don’t necessarily feel it’s appropriate in all cases. One such case is when it comes to food. Not until I moved to the country did I really start to get a feel for this. Neighbors would bring us huge bags of squash, okra, lettuce, or whatever else they had in surplus. Once we began raising chickens, we started giving them fresh eggs. Since they don’t raise chickens, it was a welcome trade for them! I really got to liking this system and now try to perpetuate it as much as possible.
There is a kindly older lady that lives next door. While she remains fairly independent, it’s to be expected that she’ll have difficulty with certain tasks. My husband started cutting her grass for her, particularly on very hot days where her sweet little sun hat might not cut it. She just so happens to have two enormous blueberry bushes, from which she graciously allows me to pick whenever I want. She doesn’t spray her bushes, so I know I am getting 100% fresh, organic berries, which are hard to find (and/or expensive). While she expects nothing in return, I always make sure to give her something. Whether it’s eggs, or seasonal homegrown produce like figs, cucumbers, or melons, she is so appreciative of that gesture.
Recently, a woman I play soccer with offered to bring me some of her squash, cucumbers, and jalapenos. Who was I to refuse? I happily came home from my game last week with a bag full of fresh produce. This week, she’s supposed to give me tomatoes. This is perfect, because mine aren’t ready yet. In exchange, what is she getting? Some of those amazing blueberries! See — I’m paying it forward!
You can save money this way, too. Not only are you avoiding having to buy such things at the store, you are giving AND getting back! You could almost make a club out of it — each person grows certain things, and then you trade for what your friends have. It’s kind of like having your own personal co-op. Everyone wins! Not sure how to start? Spy on your neighbors and see what they’re growing (in a legal way, of course!). Then, offer to trade them for something you’ve grown……or even trade for a service! Maybe the older gentleman next door grows tomatoes and also seems to need help with gardening. I’d bet he would be more than happy to give you some of those ‘maters if you pull some weeds for him. You never know.
Swap with everyone you know, and help me bring back the trade-and-barter movement!