Sunday, September 12, 2010


I tried to hire a graphic designer friend recently to design a new logo for my fundraising consulting business. She designed the logo all right, but she wouldn't let me pay her. Her exact words were "I'll work for fresh-picked corn."

In the end, we weren't able to connect with the fresh corn, but I took her 10 pounds of fresh and home-preserved produce yesterday-- garlic bulbs, herbs, black bell peppers, a huge zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, chard, pickles and peach chutney, all packed in a mini picnic basket. (I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture, because it was gorgeous.)

Using garden produce and home preserves as gifts is an honored tradition of the crunchy set, but bartering for services goes back even farther. Paying the doctor with a chicken is a cliche of American mythology, and of course barter is the basis of the entire concept of commerce. We still barter in everyday life, because of our cultural decision to honor the collective delusion that paper money has value.

Most of my seeds this year were from barter too, otherwise known as seed swapping. It's THE best way to make new friends if you're a gardener. I think pretty much every new gardening friends I've made in the past two years (see my blog list!) I met through seed swapping.

What have you bartered your garden bounty for this year?

Homemade chocolate syrup
originally from The Tightwad Gazette via the blog Small Notebook for a Simple Home. Text is verbatim.

½ cup cocoa powder
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Mix the cocoa powder and the water in a saucepan. Heat and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the sugar, and stir to dissolve. Boil for 3 minutes over medium heat. Be careful not to let it get too hot and boil over! Add the salt and the vanilla. Let cool. Pour into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for several months, but trust me it will be gone before then. Yields two cups.


  1. I haven't bartered from the garden this year, mostly because I can't help but eat everything before I bring it inside. I think it is wonderful that you're bartering with your harvest instead of letting it sit on the ground and rot, like some community gardens and gardeners I've seen this year.

  2. I adore trading for food or handmade stuff. We pretty much bartered for our bees this year - a few loaves of bread, some eggs, and housing my mentor's bees for a few months. I'm very lucky indeed.

  3. I know, I tried to post it but it's an Adobe file and blogger won't read it as an image. So I'm having her re-send in a different format. I'll put it up when she sends it!

  4. Thanks for posting the choc syrup recipie. My family loves the stuff and all the commercial stuff is crap. I'll have to make some.

    aka Silver Blades

  5. Baffled, it's also better texture and flavor than the commercial stuff. Ever since I found that recipe I've been kicking myself for all the years, money and plastic containers I wasted on Hershey's.