Learning From the Long History of Agricultural Barter
Agricultural barter has a long history in the United States. This excerpt from Charles Morrow Wilson's book Let's Try to Barter explores the story of Mrs. Evelyn Harris (the Barter Lady), who in the early 1900's sustained her family and her thousand-acre farm through well-planned barter. Her serious foray into bartering began when tax-time came and she simply didn't have the money to pay and continue operating her farm. She convinced the county judge to let her pay in locust-poles. After that, she began to trade away crops, products, and services in exchange for everything from necessary groceries, dentist bills, doctor bills, surgery, haircuts, vacation, to school-bus fare. Wilson argues that because barter "is direct, personalized, and comparatively slow motioned, [it] is the best facility for respecting and gaining from the flavor and nutritive values of harvests. Farming has kept at least the living roots of personalized trade, abetted by personalized integrity of production."