Bartering is a way of exchanging products or services, for other products or services, without using money. It happens all the time, but more so when there is an economic collapse. Or of course, when I’m in town. I like to barter, because it creates relationships, and community.
A few months ago I was walking down the street, and there in front of me, was a bed. It was a dismantled loft bed, with a ladder! It was outside someone’s house, with a sign saying “please help yourself”….So I did. My daughter had been sleeping in my bed for months, and it was definitely meant to be! I don’t have a car, so I enlisted my friend’s husband to help me get it back to my house, with the offer of babysitting services in exchange. I left a card, and a jar of my home-made Blackberry Jam outside their house (they weren’t in) as a thank-you.
When I moved to my new home, I set about trying to put the bed back together. When I realised that I really couldn’t do it by myself, I knocked on a few random, unknown neighbours doors. Nobody seemed to be in, until Pam opened her door. I introduced myself, and explained my situation, and she sent over her husband. Alec came over, wearing an “I love Jesus” baseball cap, and a dolphins football jacket. He was amazing, and I sent him home with a jar of Elderberry and Apple Jam.
I was in the market the other day, and the plant man was there. I got all excited about his fig tree and raspberry canes, and a few other plants that I really couldn’t carry home on the handlebars of my bike. So, I asked him if he would drop them off at my house at the end of the day. He didn’t have to….He could have said no, but he didn’t, and I thanked him with Raspberry Jam.
Now I feel that the plant man knows who I am, and will remember my name (I write it on the label of my jars!) And Alec knows me well enough that he felt he could knock on my door, and politely inform me that I should put up some curtains in my bathroom, because the glass is more see-through then you would think. Good to know.
Matilda has decided that she only wants to eat marmalade, and she’s sick of my jam… But I have everything except marmalade! So I put a message on the freecycle cafe looking for someone to barter with. A lady called Elaine wrote back to me, and we organised a swap at the hospital up the road, where she works. Matilda is over the moon- she has informed me that she wants to eat marmalade sandwiches every single day for lunch, from now on. I hope Elaine enjoys our jams and pickles as much.
Then, this morning I found a wall that was completely covered with Pennywort (Umbilicus Rupestris). It’s an edible weed that tastes like a juicy salad leaf. It’s really delicious, and as it was my first forage of the spring, I was almost as excited as Matilda was with her marmalade! Naturally, I always keep a tub and some spare bags in my handbag, for just this kind of moment, so I was in luck. We collected our lucky harvest, and skipped home for a lovely lunch of organic bread from the farmers market, home-made bartered marmalade from the lovely Elaine, and foraged Pennywort from someone’s wall. Yum!!