Successful Swaps: Tips for Bartering

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their skills in bartering for food, services and other goods.

| September/October 1976

Thrifty MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their successful swaps of services or products for needed goods. There's no need for money when ingenuity and willingness to trade are brought to the table!

Trade Cherry Picking for Fruit

Six years ago, when my husband and I were first married, we found ourselves with very little money ... but lots of time and enthusiasm. We frequently took walks through an older residential section in our area, and—on one such occasion—noticed a beautiful little cherry tree virtually covered with fruit on its topmost branches (the lower portion had apparently already been picked).

As we stood gazing upward at those luscious-looking red morsels—and dreaming of all the treats we could make with them an idea began to form in our heads: We'd see if the owner would let us pick the fruit in exchange for a share of the harvest. "It can't hurt to ask", we thought, and—a bit hesitantly—knocked on the nearest front door.

An elderly woman answered, and we awkwardly explained our proposal. She told us that she'd picked only the lower cherries because—as much as she hated to see the remainder go to waste—she was afraid she might accidentally fall from the top of the tree. "But you two go ahead," she said , "and don't save any more than a bucketful for my friends and me ... that'll be 'aplenty'". We ran back to our apartment and soon returned with pails, dish pans, boxes, and anything else that could conceivably hold a mess of the fruit.

Several hours later, we descended from our treetop perches . . . tired, sticky, and with cherries packed into both our stomachs and all the containers we'd brought with us. We again knocked at the door of our new friend, and—after showing her our sizable harvest-asked if she didn't want more than just a bucketful. She said no, but that if we'd wait a minute she'd empty our pail and return it to us. When she came back, our "empty" container was holding a sack of warm cookies that the lady had obviously baked while we were up in her tree!

We've discovered many other fruit-laden treetops since that time, and almost all of them have been owned by a grandma or grandpa who couldn't risk the hazards of climbing. Of course, we've enjoyed a lot of free fruit as a result ... but the real reward has been the pleasurable company of so many fine folks we might not have otherwise met!

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