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Timebanks are being created all across the U.S. so that people can help members of their community in whatever way they can, and get help in return, though probably not from the person they helped. Hours spent helping are banked, and all skills are treated the same.

Timebanks are a bit subversive that way, treating driving neighbors to doctor appointments the same as preparing their taxes or fixing their plumbing. Most subversive of all is that no payment is involved. All that, and you get to know your neighbors, too. It’s bartering, with the help of the Internet.

I joined the timebank in my town about a year ago, offering the garden-consulting services that I used to charge $80/hour for. Now when people ask for my help I tell them it’s free, but only through the timebank. My offer is listed in the “garden/yard” category with offers like the following:

  • I can help plant flowers, shrubs and trees. Just planted 200 trees with 35 volunteers in one morning.
  • I’m glad to pull ’em up – and to learn about what you’re growing!
  • Lifetime organic gardener. Let’s make it beautiful.
  • Will weed (& mulch) small areas.
  • I can rake, weed beds, do general cleanup, planting under supervision.
  • Willing to weed, mulch and plant. Really enjoy native plant gardens that attract wildlife.
  • I will weed your ornamental or food gardens. Good knowledge of weed recognition and handling.
  • I am available to help other people weed their gardens. We can work together or I can do it on my own.
  • Gardening for wildlife, water conservation and nature is my specialty.

And from someone offering compost help: “Started composting before it was fashionable. Was featured on First Edition tv show in the 1980’s.”

Garden/yard help is one of many categories of offers, shown above with the number of offers in each. All this from our 90 active members.

So far, my garden-coaching has gotten me some home cooking, especially delicious soups, plus a bunch of banked hours available for me to “spend” for things I need – like some minor home repairs I can think of.

It took months of research and testing of online timebanking programs before our organizers chose hOurworld, and it’s working well for us. The home page for our group is butt ugly but who cares?

Anyone else have a way to barter gardening skills and know-how for other services?

Posted by

Susan Harris
on February 20, 2015 at 9:48 am, in the category What’s Happening.

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7 Comments

  1. anonymouse

    19th October 2016 at 1:42 am

    I’m intrigued by the idea of a timebank. Heading over to check it out – thanks!

  2. Saurs

    26th November 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Feels Uber-y to me, a means of circumventing regulations, OSHA, taxes, and unions. A nice idea that ultimately harms the least financially secure among us.

  3. Lori Hawkins

    26th November 2016 at 8:44 pm

    I totally agree Susan! I am so glad you published this resource, I am going to check it out in my area. I did try offering my services for landscaping under the ‘barter’ section of Craig’s List and got all kinds of weird phone calls. Very creepy. Needless to say, probably was not the best idea. I was glad to see your post!

  4. Astrid Bowlby

    27th November 2016 at 9:42 am

    The folks who participate in this process do so willingly because they see value in it. They respect the value of other people’s time and skills. And, very importantly, are uninterested in making a value judgement about them, ie: my skill/time is more important/valuable than yours. For people who prefer not to make cash transactions the center of their life when they do not have to, this system is as benign as any other. There are always issues to work out between two parties who enact a transaction of any kind. Putting one’s faith in centralized governing authorities unquestioningly is as foolish as doing so in any other instance. This process seems unusual because we are used to the go-between of coins, paper money, credit cards. All of these are stand ins for the actual transaction. Bartering is much more familiar to people in other countries and would have been more familiar to people in other time periods.

  5. Ivette Soler

    28th November 2016 at 3:37 pm

    Preach! Yes yes yes yes yes … great comment!

  6. vera

    29th November 2016 at 3:26 am

    There’s a timebank in my area, but it covers many towns, and it doesn’t have many active members close by. In practice, I rarely find a nearby match for needs/offers. When I did use it once or twice, I didn’t know any friends or neighbors who offered the service I needed.

  7. Ivette Soler

    30th November 2016 at 8:53 am

    I don’t think all the reason you state for why this might be problematic put me off of trying it. I am curious, and will sign up with my local time bank – but not for garden services (I design gardens). I think it would be more fitting and appropriate for me to do something that I enjoy and want to spend time sharing with others. Sometimes you may need help and you don’t want to bother friends, or you want a clean, no strings attached transaction that isn’t money based. If I want to share soup, I am happy to make a video of me making that soup if someone questions. And someone being the BEST at doing their share isn’t really the point. I think you might be looking at this through too much of a capitalist lens.

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