The bountiful barter
Honey, eggs, fish, clothes, books, herbal medicine, fruit, seeds, a bike, a greenhouse, labour, a full gas bottle, a stove, bread, furniture; these are some of the things that we have obtained via bartering so far. Sometimes it's a one-off deal, but we've got a few regular exchanges set up, like a veg box for herbal remedies or salad bags for eggs and bread for courgettes.
You don't know how great this sort of trading feels until you're doing it and then it can get quite addictive. I always feel that I'm getting a better deal, as I'm giving something I've got in abundance for other things that I haven't got, but that I really want. Like a bag of freshly picked salad leaves in exchange for some eggs, laid by the ducks of a friend. Or a jumper that became a real favourite, which I picked up at a clothes swap.
There is something energetic, alive, about bartering that makes the old cash payment feel quite dead. As soon as national sovereign economies start going seriously retrograde, the "unofficial economies" start to florish, remember the USSR, Argentina and now Greece and Portugal? But there's yet another reason why I like this type of trade: it feels deliciously subversive in a world where the state exacts the most taxes from the poorest people, where politicians fiddle their expenses, the super rich off shore their wealth to avoid paying their dues and some Tory billionaire has the gall to attack single parents on benefits, claiming they are stuck in a culture of entitlement while another states that paying tradesmen cash in hand is immoral!?
Each time I swap some veg for some bread or plums, some labour for something we need, it makes me smile, because it empowers me, it strenghtens my community and it creates resilience (and it's rebellious, yeay!)