In case you’ve ever wondered, bartering is alive and well in Navarro County. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me just say, we’re big on bartering at Purdon Groves. We’ve bartered physical work on the farm, photography of events, and even a Boxer puppy in exchange for glamping in one of our canvas tents. We’ve also exchanged produce for local handmade jewelry.
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the verb barter in this way: “Exchange goods or services for other goods or services without using money.”
I first remember connecting with the term when my mom took me to the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, on one of our many road trips. The theater, founded in 1933, received its name because those who couldn’t afford to pay the 40 cent admission price paid for tickets in the equivalent vegetables, dairy products and livestock. Robert Porterfiled founded the theater when most New York theaters had shuttered their doors due to the Great Depression. He was able to get many talented actors to perform in the picturesque Virginia town. Iconic actors, such as Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine and Patricia Neal, got their start at the Barter.
But bartering began long before the worldwide, historic economic downturn. A quick Google search reveals bartering likely began in 6000 BC with Mesopotamian tribes. Subsequently other cultures observed the practice and adopted it themselves in order to get desired goods and services. The invention of currency didn’t stop the practice of bartering. (https://squareup.com/us/en/townsquare/a-history-of-the-trade-and-barter-system)
Bartering is still a way to get something you want without spending money. It provides an opportunity to try something while saving money for things that require a cash payment. I’ve also found it to be a way of supporting other local family businesses, while getting what we need or want. In exchange, it allows others to experience our products. One of my favorite bartering experiences at our farm is something we call the Artist Work Exchange Program. Artists who are working on their craft may spend the night in one of our glamping tents in exchange for three hours of work on the farm. So far, it’s been a win/win situation for all of us.
I’m sure we aren’t the only local, family business that has used this ancient method of giving and receiving goods and services. I’d love to hear about your experience - what you bartered and why you’d do it again.
Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at email@example.com. For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out purdongroves.com or visit their Instagram or Facebook page.