Successful Swaps: Food Sharing, Barter Fair, and More

Readers recount their stories about food sharing, bater fairs, saving surplus propane, and other instances where they successfully swapped goods and services with other people.

| January/February 1980

  • Bartering Shoes
    Successful swaps can include any object or service if the parties to the exchange are satisfied.

  • Bartering Shoes

In a past issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Bill Wodraska shared some of his thoughts regarding one of mankind's better ideas — barter — and offered up an interesting suggestion: "I'd like to see a continuing feature on barter and skill-and-labor exchanges," said Bill. "Maybe MOTHER EARTH NEWS could even swap subscriptions for contributions to the department." "You're on!" we replied ... and announced our offer: Anyone who sent us a short (200 words or less) account of an actual barter that was good enough to print received — as the folks on the following pages did — a 12-month subscription (or extension of same) to MOTHER EARTH NEWS. While the offer is no longer in effect, you can still add your idea in the comments field of this article to share it with others.

FOOD SHARING: A couple of years back, I was working on a quilt with two good friends when it came time for our hostess to prepare her family's dinner. As Gina came from the refrigerator with her arms full of assorted leftovers, she began to complain. Though the food was perfectly good, she said, she was sure her husband and children would not be terribly interested in seeing it on the table for a second time. As I sympathized with Gina, Maggie looked up from her quilting . . . Maggie always perks up at the mention of food. "Hmm . . . looks great," Maggie said. "You know, I've got a ton of last night's green bean stew in the fridge. How about a trade?" Well, Gina loves Maggie's stew, so she agreed. And I wasn't about to be left out of the dinner swap, so I modestly mentioned the wheat bread that I had baked that morning. The barter ended with all of us switching our leftovers around until we each had a new—and easy-to-prepare—dinner. That day's swappin' started a regular exchange of leftovers ... to the delight of all three families. —L.K., Louisiana

PASTURE SWAP: While I was out in the barnyard putting a patch on the shed the other day, our heifer Blitz came nosing around . . . and I was reminded of her origins.

You see, my friend Bill had inquired how much I'd charge to pasture a calf that he wanted to buy. I told him to bring the critter over, and we'd work something out ... as long as no money changed hands. Well, Bill showed up with four heifers! Seems he'd gotten such a good price at the sale that he couldn't stop. Bill offered me one young'un in return for pasturing the other three, and—of course—I agreed. Later we took another of the calves in exchange for a week's rental on our VW camper.

The neighbor's bull crashed the fence one day, and saved us the price of breeding one of our cows ... an expense we'd already counted on. Blitz, the incumbent cow, is the offspring of that inadvertent breeding . . . and now she's pregnant (only this time we swapped pasture privileges for service).

Our freezer has been full of meat for four years now, at no cost to us ... except, of course, the normal expenses for land and water, which we would have paid anyway.—D.S., Idaho

Idnas Newob
4/29/2012 3:35:18 PM

hi how do i set up a bartering group in east tn or is thetre on alredy

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me