Tree Trade, Library Research, and Other Barter Agreements

A reader who exchanged library research for dental work and another whose cultivation of trees enabled a number of tree trades are among the barter agreements profiled in this installment of an ongoing feature.

| March/April 1981

068 barter agreement - Fotolia - PATRIMONIO DESIGNS

A barter agreement can involve objects, such as shoes or backpacks or even trees, or services such as library research or dental work.


The following are barter agreements and trades negotiated by MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers.   

Tree Trade

You might be surprised to know that suburbia can provide a fertile field for successful swaps! Although the "native soil" for most of the trading reported by MOTHER EARTH NEWS seems to be in the back-to-basics agricultural community, we've reaped high "barter yields" in our region of half-acre-lot developments. Here's my favorite swap story:

Several years ago friends of ours purchased a new house on a "clear lot" ... meaning that all the trees had been cut down, and the entire parcel bulldozed, when the subdivision was laid out. Well, our new neighbors wanted to put some greenery on their property, but — after shelling out the down payment — they found their purse too light to afford professional landscapers. So — for a mere $10 — the innovative couple purchased 140 seedlings from the county soil and water conservation district ... which, once planted in the bare 15' X 30' back yard, soon grew into a miniature forest. When the small trees outgrew the backyard nursery, some were transplanted to the front yard ... and the remaining saplings attracted eager friends and neighbors ready to swap.

Some of those "tree trades" simply bought variety, such as when a number of pines were swapped for apple saplings. In another instance, a neighbor offered unlimited use of his rototiller and wheelbarrow in exchange for a seedling, and one friend even constructed a patio (providing sand, used paving bricks, and his labor) as payment for several of the handsome nursery "starts".

Last year our family bought a new house on a bare half-acre lot ... and — for spring planting this year — we've ordered 140 little trees. Soon we'll be swapping, too!


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