The Community Trading Post

Sometime, a few weeks back or so, Frank and I came upon the idea of a kind of farmer’s market trading post thing. We’ve heard about them, read about them, and recently someone left a comment about how they’re doing this very thing in their area on the article, Homestead News, Volume 14.


“You two lit a fire under me – yesterday Bruce (66) and I (65) drove 600 miles to pick up two AGH [American Guinea Hogs]/ Kune Kune six week old barrows. Hopefully the gilt and boar will come later. What cute tubby little guys. As I look off my back deck at the fences patched with baling twine (chuckle). I am grateful for all we have and will have to offer. 

The small community that is ours – boasts 180 souls. Some of us ladies of this burg started a small farmers market this past summer – small, social and we think needed. Those of us with incubators have shared eggs and hatched many chicks for those wishing to start flocks – all sage advice, good and bad, shared with humor. Our volunteer fire department – always in need of funding, will receive all the $ from our local chestnut harvest sold at the market. Time is short – Please keep blogging. Nurse Claudia”


She’s right, things like this are needed all around the country in many shapes and sizes, with formats to meet the needs of the

surrounding communities. It really struck me how simple something like this can be. I’ve also thought it doesn’t have to be only a farmer’s market with vegetables, eggs and the occasional rabbits or chicks. It could be anything someone wanted to sell, or trade or barter. Not a flea market, per se, but the time is coming that what you have is what you have, and if you need something, trading or bartering may be the only way to get it.

We’ve told you about Emmet digging ditches for us. This week he had worked enough hours that he went home with two radios. That is what we bartered for. We needed the help, he wanted some radios. Good trade.

Our questions for you are:

  1. Are you or have you participated in a trading post before?
  2. How did it go?
  3. What recommendations do you have?
  4. What didn’t work?
  5. Are there any draw backs or problems?
  6. Or anything else I forgot to ask

Frank and I aren’t looking to start a trading post, but the idea is there. Our small communities have places that could be utilized, so that could be worked out if there was interest. People could bring their own tables or use the tailgate of their truck to ply their wares. There is a possibility that tables and chairs could be used from a community center building.

One of the reasons this idea has great appeal to us is not to bolster the trading, bartering, buying or selling between people in our communities, but to bring people together, get people talking and possibly helping each other. We need to know each other better. This will familiarize people, not only with their neighbors, but with their neighbors abilities, or lack thereof. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it could showcase those who are the workers, the takers, the loafers and the givers. There is always someone looking for a handout, but there could also be people looking for a hand up.

Right now, Frank and I are just in the thinking, pondering, brainstorming stage. There are folks around we will start talking to about this idea and see what they think. We know the two of us can’t be an island in the coming storm. It’s time we take a more active role with our small communities. We all know that sometimes with just a little encouragement, someone will step up to the plate and help organize and support an idea like this. 

So this article is a little different. We would appreciate all of the input you can give us. And like Nurse Claudia said, “all sage advice, good and bad, shared with humor” can help make this possible venture more successful, not only for us, but maybe for a number of people and communities. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time – Fern

8 thoughts on “The Community Trading Post

  1. It's interesting how things work differently in different parts of the country, isn't it Adrienne? I don't know if this will happen around here or not. There are a number of informal gathering places where people go to buy or sell their wares, tools, animals, etc., but I don't know if there are any restrictions or requirements for them. Thank you for sharing your experience and for the advice.Fern

  2. Great example, Grammy, thank you for sharing this process with all of us. I think this is what we had in mind as this idea grew. Once we present it to others it may turn out differently, but that's okay, that's what makes it a Community project, and builds community interaction and relationships. Again, thank you very much for sharing.Fern

  3. Our area is very, very rural and there aren't any cooperative organizations to join. This may work very well for someone that lives in an area that offers this service, though. Thank you for sharing your ideas, and thank you for your kind words.Fern

  4. I would picture that most of the exchanges would be made with money, Ilene, that is, as long as we still use money. The trading aspect would have to be worked out with folks that want to trade instead of using money. I can't picture using coupons since someone would have to print them and keep track of them.It sounds like your neighborhood has their own informal kind of trading already without a formal gathering place. Good for you. You're exactly right about giving and taking, it has to be done with mutual respect and participation, or it won't work at all. Some folks only show up if there is a free hand out, but they would soon be recognized by everyone for what they really are. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences and ideas.Fern

  5. We have a small community college in our county that our kids and I attended. When our oldest son was in college, he was talking to me as I was putting away some groceries. He made the comment that we had a lot of food, and never went hungry. He knew a few of the basketball players from Jamaica who were here on a scholarship. They all came from very poor families, and were here hoping to better themselves. Our son commented that the boys only got meal tickets when school was in session. This meant they only ate four meals a week in the summer, lunch on Monday through Thursday. He brought the boys over for supper once, and they continued coming to our home. (We had to drive them since none of them had a car.) They came to church with us every Sunday, and are close to us to this day. In our attempt to help them, we got permission to plant corn in the field just behind their apartment building. We provided the seed, tractor, etc. and they provided the labor. They sold the corn they raised at a local farmers market, and used the money they earned to get produce and baked goods from others at the market, and food at the grocery store. We ended up taking them to a neighboring county to sell corn at their farmers market. They were able to earn more for their corn there. We learned that there were two prices for the products, one for customers buying, and another for those of us trading. (It ended up being about the same value.) Only rarely did someone not want to trade the boys for their corn. There were even times they were given whatever food was left at other booths at the end of the day. People saw the boys were hard workers, and were willing to help them. There were other students at the college who wanted our handouts, but didn't want to work. Asking them to help with the corn was a way to weed out the moochers and those who were willing to work for what they needed. (By the way, we gave them a lot, but they learned a good work ethic and had a sense of pride by earning their own money. Some of this was spent on things like clothes and entertainment.)We learned that most people at the markets were good, hard-working, kind people. There is always the occasional stinker, but you'll find that everywhere. My advice is to pray (as I'm sure you're already doing), plan, talk to others, and decide what is needed/wanted at the market. Our local farmers market has everything from locally grown produce, homemade baked goods, cleaning products, flowers, crafts, dogs, rabbits, eggs, etc. We've even had someone bring their horses and wagon giving rides to the kids while the adults shop. The most difficult thing for me is deciding a price for the goods. I've found that most people are willing to help with this. Thank you for your blog, and may God bless you as you help others.

  6. Consider joining a CSA and buy everything local. Cut out the middle man and know your supplier and their farming practices. Great blog site guys! Keep it up!!

  7. You know, I think the biggest problem with bartering is finding someone who wants something you HAVE that also has something you WANT. And I was thinking, what about printing up some coupons or something, that can kind of be used like money? That way, if someone pays with the coupons, then you can take the coupons and give them to someone else that has something you want.Here in our little neighborhood, I guess you could say we \”sorta\” barter. Our neighbor across the road is an electrician. Occasionally we need his expertise. And he always gives us a \”neighbor price\”. So when I bake bread or pie, or make jam, or have extra tomatoes, I take some over to him to show my appreciation. I share a lot of my extra garden things with neighbors, once I've processed all I want, and they think of us when they have extra. Just the other night we enjoyed a nice dinner of fish that our neighbor from up on the corner brought us. Our neighbors to our south are gone quite a lot and we watch their house while they're gone, get their mail and papers and so on. They bring us cheese curds from Wisconsin. It tastes like very creamy mozzarella. Then of course there's the tree trimmer that brings us wood chips. I start plants for him in the spring and share garden things with him if he's here when I have some ready. This only works when everybody is a \”giver\”. Unfortunately there are people who are really good at \”taking\” but not \”giving\”. Ya gotta do both to make it work, if you do it informally like we do. Sometimes we do run into someone that doesn't feel like they have to do their share. I still do give to them, sometimes, rather than let something go to waste, but the ones that reciprocate get first choice.

  8. When we lived in Sedona, AZ (back when it was a tiny little burg) barter was a way of life. One thing to keep in mind is whether you are trading wholesale or retail. Often one person is thinking retail, while the other is thinking wholesale, so work out that detail up front.We found that after a while, no one paid too much attention to the actual amounts. I had a beauty salon and kept my dentist, doctor, and chiropractor (and families) looking good, and they kept hubby and me healthy. Everyone was happy. I miss bartering. I would be very cautious about starting up any public type venue. You do realize that the government expects to be paid taxes on bartered items. Approach only those people you trust. Each of them will know people who can also be trusted. Keep it very low key. Those \”takers and slackers\” you mentioned can cause untold amounts of trouble if they become disgruntled.

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