Bartering for Better Living

Bartering can save you time and money, all while strengthening neighborly bonds!


| February/March 1992



130-058-01

Bartering is a great tool for getting the supplies and help you need without spending an arm and a leg.


ILLUSTRATION: DAVID COULSON

When we were kids, bartering was the way we acquired the things we felt were the necessities of life: Mom's chocolate-chip cookies were traded for your best friend's mom's homemade popsicles. A Willie Mays baseball card garnered a half-dead frog, a cat's-eye boulder marble and a broken slingshot. While a few of us left our bartering ways behind when we entered the world of "real" money — as well as the real world of stress, tension and headaches of living in a cash-oriented society — many of us, in this time of recession and rising housing costs, are rediscovering bartering as a way to get what we need in life.

For the last few years, I have moved considerably away from paying with cash to bartering for many of the essentials and non-essentials of life on my 150-acre farm. By using the bartering method, I'm able to channel most of my cash flow back into my farm operation and away from everyday living expenses. My need for ready cash has greatly diminished, and the fun of bartering has relieved some of the financial pressures of modern living.

Anyone can barter, whether they live on a two-acre lot or a 5,000-acre farm. I started my adult bartering career with two acres of strawberries I had planted to sell on a pick-your-own basis to supplement my income. A neighbor who lived on a nearby dairy farm spied my strawberries, and we struck a bargain: For every four cases of my strawberries she picked, her family would manure one acre of my land. My fertilizer bill was cut in half.

That small taste led me to search out other possibilities. Within a few months I bartered strawberries for foodstuffs, tailoring and services such as small-equipment repair. I even bartered strawberries for the glass on my new greenhouse that started my produce business. After that, I bartered for radio promotion spots to advertise the produce during the tourist season!

With a surplus of melons and other produce, I realized there would be a certain amount of waste. I asked another farming neighbor if he would like to use the waste as a diet supplement for his hogs — and in return, at butchering time, he could dress a hog for my freezer. Later, in return for inviting a few of his friends, he roasted and served the pig at my annual harvest party. I hosted and furnished the side dishes and enjoyed a great amount of free publicity for my fruit farm.

I once bartered almost an entire party for 300 people. The local chamber of commerce was aiming to obtain publicity for our area’s attractions. With this in mind, they approached me about using my farm for a party for television, radio and newspaper personalities coming in from the three major cities in our state.





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