New Roof, Apples for Cider, and Other Successful Barter Agreements

A Wisconsin resident who traded graphic design and marketing skills for a new roof, and a Vermont couple who traded to obtain apples for cider, were among the successful barter agreements profiled in this issue.

| November/December 1980

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 agreements and skill-and-labor exchanges," said Bill. "You're on!" MOTHER EARTH NEWS replied.  

New Roof

Each rainstorm that came dripping through my kitchen ceiling last spring reminded me of the desperate need for a new roof on my 50-year-old house. However, financing the repairs by taking out a home improvement loan (with the current skyrocketing interest rates) wasn't a feasible option, given my tiny bank account. But with every trickle that found its way from the outside of the house to the interior of my pantry, it became more and more apparent that something had to be done and soon!

So when a friend mentioned that he needed a brochure for a new business venture, I hesitantly proposed a swap. I operate a media service in my home, you see, and suggested that — in exchange for my preparing a promotional booklet for his fledgling enterprise and for consultation on the finer points of mail order — my buddy furnish the labor to reroof my house. My friend immediately agreed to the deal ... so I next asked a manufacturer client (for whom I had written a product story) to reimburse me with roofing shingles — which he could obtain at a discount — instead of cash.

Within a week I had a new roof on my dwelling ... and my friend not only had his brochure and an introduction to mail order advertising, but also my surplus shingles to use on a log home that he's building! All things considered, it seems that we both got the best end of that bargain!


Apples for Cider 

October was apple-picking time up here in the Green Mountain State. But though our fingers were fairly itching to pluck some of the tart, tasty orchard fruit (and our empty 55-gallon whiskey barrel was just crying to be filled with fresh-pressed cider), the property my husband and I were homesteading didn't boast even a single apple tree. In fact, it seemed that we'd have to do without a winter's sauce 'n' cider supply altogether, since the prices at the roadside stands were too high — especially with the large amount of fruit we had in mind to garner — for our limited budget. We had almost given up hope ... until, one evening, we thought of barter!

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