A Flourishing "Free" Market
--by ChakaRuna, posted Apr 26, 2009
We are a small town of less than 4,000 people in the mountains of Ecuador . Recently our new organic farmers cooperative started hosting one afternoon a week to exchange our produce and seeds among ourselves...no money changes hands.
As of this past week we started to lay our stuff on wooden tables set in a portal on the main square, we hold hands around the table to give thanks to our ancestors who used to do this in ancient times in this country, and we pray in thanks, either out loud or silently according to each one's own spiritual beliefs. Then comes the fun... each person around the table tells and shows what she brought. Each one, in turn, goes around picking and taking what he NEEDS to either feed him/herself and family, and to add to their garden that which is missing.
This last Thursday was one such day and some town children saw us preparing the tables and asked what was going to happen. I told them in detail. Half an hour later, while we were in the midst of the "exchanges", two girls of about ten showed up with 6 lemons and one large camote and said "we don't put any chemicals on these" and placed them on our tables. They then picked and placed into their basket what they needed for their mom: 4 scallion, a small bunch of watercress, 2 lettuce, a few carrots, some swiss chard.
By the time we were cleaning up, two boys of about 12 walked by curiously looking at the remains of a party in a public space and asked what took place. I told them in detail and they said, "Trueque?! (Spanish word for barter) We learned about that in school...I'm gonna tell my mom for next week!"
We are planning on establishing this as a weekly routine in our town in order to spread the spirit of generosity and reciprocity. Whoever comes and does not have anything to contribute can still take if they need, as long as if/when the person returns eventually they will contribute something for someone within the group.