Midlands Barter Markets flourishing

Midlands Barter Markets flourishing

A bunch of fresh mint for a designer blouse – why not?

Barter markets are flourishing in the KZN Midlands. Clearly, many of us are searching for a slower, more considered way of living. Here the Howick Exchange is in full swing, captured by Keran Ducasse

Barter It Bru gathers in Lidgetton or Lions River to share a diverse range of produce and skills – bread, mushrooms, milk, seeds, plants, clothes and books. “I dislike wastage,” says Sarah Derrett, “what is not valuable to one person might be useful to someone else, so bartering is the best way to share excess.”  The actual value does not always matter – a bunch of fresh mint for a designer blouse – why not? If both parties are happy, then everyone wins!

The Hilton Produce Exchange meets in James Craib Park. The variety of produce that emanates from suburbia is nothing short of astonishing. People come to catch up on local news, going from stall to stall with their tray full of chutney, granadillas or curry leaves, to see what they can swap. While some are a little sceptical about the bartering concept, they soon get the hang of it and love the fact that they go home with a basket full of goodies without spending a cent.

Miller Street Common hosts the Howick Exchange. Here, depending on the season, there are figs, naartjies, tree tomatoes, gooseberries and plums from gardens in the surrounding streets. Massage and readymade meals, hay mulch, firewood, kombucha and yoga classes are all traded too. Xola Keswa is impressed that the Midlands community is working on food resilience, fighting food miles and easing economic pressure. “I was pleased to have something to do with all the extra peppers in our garden, but most of all I enjoy networking and sharing ideas.”

Dargle Trade is held on the veranda of il Postino. Sharon Barnsley loves the fact that local barter means fewer trips to town to shop. “Sometimes the abundance of home grown produce is overwhelming, so it is great to share with others that would enjoy it and, if they have anything to swap, that is the cherry on top.” There are always interesting surprises in Dargle – like persimmons, artichokes, duck eggs and occasionally, blueberries too.

The Curry’s Post Produce Market is barter or buy – giving options for those without gardens. One can trade for heirloom tomatoes, veggie seedlings, charcuterie, jams, and artisan bread in the grounds of Mulberry Hill. Judy Douglas comments “It is good to see people from the district supporting each other, creating a cohesive community.

Megan Hodson is new in the Midlands and recently attended her first barter. “It lovely to meet generous, like-minded people and see the amazing things their gardens have produced. This is an important initiative to help us move away from the supermarket–dominated society and find more beneficial ways of doing things.”

Our local barter groups epitomise acting locally, thinking globally. If enough of us participate, we will create a new and better way of life for everyone.

Find us on Facebook or Instagram: Midlands Barter Markets
Barter It Bru – first Sunday 076 886 6174
Hilton Produce Exchange – third Saturday 083 235 8628
Howick Exchange – second Wednesday 083 473 3074
Curry’s Post Produce Market – second Sunday 079 486 1376
Dargle Trade – third Thursday 083 289 3110