Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Trades! How I've been feeding myself with almost no money.

Lately I have been doing a lot of trades. Most specifically, food items for food items, though not strictly.
GF Corn Bread w/green chili

 I'm sure you all know about my swap events by now (if not check out the tabs above). These trades are a little different. They are one on one trades that I set up though various websites with other food lovers and frugals like myself.
My latest trade for example: I received gluten free cornbread for some kefir grains.

It can be tricky at first, I mean, what value does something handmade actually have? What is a fair trade? Their are lots of things to consider and you can really get in to creating a "price" for your items. But truthfully, it all comes down to comfort. What are you comfortable trading your items for? Is the other person comfortable as well? If so, then, Hey! You've got yourself a trade. Don't be afraid to counter offer as well. If you think you really should get one more jar of jam for that truckload of kale then say so.

As for venues for seeking out trades...I have a few tricks up my sleeve and use them all.

Peach Ginger Jam
*First, I use this Bay Area specific website dedicated to people who love growing, raising, foraging, and cooking their own food. http://www.foundfruit.com/ 
This site has various groups you can join (or create). One of these groups is a backyard fruit/veggie exchange group. I have gotten some great trades from this group including a large bottle of apricot wine in exchange for a small Nanking Cherry plant! It also has some great event listings (you can even add your own) for food, health, and sustainability related events in the Bay Area. It's a fun site to explore.

*Next, craigslist! Craigslist has a barter section. As with everything else you do on craigslist, for some reason it seems to produce a lot of flakes. Every now and then people come through though and you can get some great trades on craigslist.

*Facebook. A friend of mine (and one of my favorite people to swap with) started a trade group on facebook and added all her friends. In turn, everyone interested added all their friends who they thought might be interested in trades. The group has about 120 people currently and I've gotten some great trades from it. My major sweet tooth was sated with a trade of 2 pairs of my bike tube earrings for 5 dozen amazing organic, healthy, & tasty cookies. Another trade, I got two jars of pickled veggies, and a jar of peach ginger jam for some of my kombucha, chard, lambs quarters, and a kefir grain.

*Local Food Swap Network. I started a once a season food swap event which has been a huge hit. It has also hooked me up with hundreds of food minded people in the bay area. Every now and then I reach out to these people for trades outside of the once a season large events for smaller more personal trades.

The trick to all this is that you need to have something people want. Either an item, service, or skill people are actually looking for or would enjoy having. If you are not a gardener or baker think about your other talents. What do you do for a living? Is it something people would be interested in trading for? Do you make things? Know how to give massages? Build websites? Sew? Can you give guitar lessons? It can be almost anything.

Here is an example of my current "I have to swap" list:
*Peach Ginger Kombucha
*Kombucha scoby
*Milk Kefir Grains
*Lambs quarters (similar to spinach)
*Fava Beans (shelled & frozen)
*Succulent Cuttings (various)
*veggie & herb starts (Yarrow, Butter lettuce, stupice, green zebra, & yellow pear tomato, Broage, Marigolds, Russian tarragon, Cilantro, Tree collards)
*Recycled Bike Tube Earrings (http://www.etsy.com/shop/girlonbike)
*Homemade deodorant (Tea Tree or Rose scented)

*Worms (for making vermicompost)

Start looking around your house & compile a list of things you have to trade. You might be surprised at what gets offered up to you. You might also be lucky enough to meet some really nice like minded folks. 
Tomato based Italian style pickles

1 comment:

  1. What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    - Oscar Wilde