As the primary economy struggles, the home economy is thriving. More Seattleites are growing some vegetables or fruit in their backyard; urban chickens have gone from fad to commonplace; and canning and other food preservation skills are again in high demand.
Barter is the natural form of commerce for those engaged in home economic activities. You may have a few extra jars of jam or some surplus fruit; but within the primary economy there is no good way to market those products. On the other hand, you can very easily trade your jam for your neighbor’s apples. The transaction has none of the traditional overheads, such as marketing costs, storage and distribution costs, or storefront lease. Even online channels such as Etsy or Craiglist can’t compete. The only limitation to bartering is the need to connect supply and demand. Backyard Barter is one solution to that problem.
We attended our first barter fair today and it was a really fun event. There’s the satisfaction of sharing your own products with others that appreciate them; the excitement of driving a good bargain (Wendy is a lot better at this than I am); and the opportunity to meet a lot of folks that share some of the same interests and values as we do. It was a very diverse crowd and getting to know some of them was just as much fun as the actual bartering.
Not quite knowing what to expect, we offered up tubs of red wriggler composting worms and some home-baked loaves. We were rather pleased with the level of interest we encountered, and the things we were able to obtain in return: a dozen duck eggs, a variety of jams and jellies, home-made hot sauce, a bottle of home-brewed beer, and a small round of fresh goat cheese.
Now we’ve got a ton of ideas for things we can bring to the next barter fair. We’re already looking forward to it.