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Grassroots vision for neighborhood bartering

Grassroots vision for neighborhood bartering

Emet Degirmenci is a Capitol Hill resident with a vision for the future. Her life’s work has centered around sustainability and regenerative methods of growing food. The practice of these methods has taken her to countries throughout the world, including Turkey, New Zealand, and Australia. Now she wants to bring her experience and ideas to our community by starting an exchange and bartering network.

She’s been a Seattle resident for two years, having moved from New Zealand where she was the founder of two successful community gardens, then Vashon Island where she offered two courses in permaculture certification. She bought a home with a small yard garden in Capitol Hill seven months ago.
Degirmenci is one of those people with several projects going at once. Kombucha brewing and seeds sprouting inside. Cuttings from several different fruit trees growing outside in one corner of her modest yard. In another she has a special area where herbs and small ground cover will flourish in the spring. She has big plans to add a pond in hopes to raise fish and attract native frogs. She even has a little wooden box where she’s gotten mushrooms to grow into what will hopefully be a “mushroom tree,” she said. There’s not an inch of space she hasn’t utilized or planned something for.
While giving a tour of her home and garden, a neighbor she hasn’t seen in awhile walked by and stopped to chat. He praised all the hard work she’d been doing, and she invited him to a potluck she wanted to throw for all the neighbors to hangout and get to know each other better. She also told the tale of a neighbor who wasn’t pleased by her digging around in the dirt, making the neighborhood “ugly,” but when that neighbor got to treat himself to the fruits of her labor, months later, the complaints turned to compliments. That is her goal, to bring a neighborhood and community together with the food that’s grown there.

Degirmenci was raised in a small town in Turkey where the main crops were grapes and barley. She remembers her entire community gathering at a household to share the workload of one family. They’d take turns working at one farm, and then the next. They would eat meals together and tell stories. That lifestyle seems to have made a life-long impression on her, and the essence of those days is something she carries into her work.

“At my new home I’m trying to be self sufficient as much as I can to demonstrate to people that it is possible to live a low carbon foot print.” she said. “I have street gardens and rain barrels and I’ve recently been doing lots of fruit tree propagation. I have an idea, even a plan, to start an interdependent neighborhood project here.”

As a start, she envisions her neighbors gathering for dinner and bringing with them goods they hope to exchange and barter. Those who attend could exchange anything from “seeds, seedlings, fruit, veggies, eggs, old and new cloths, gardening materials, gardening skills, preserves, dry fruit, soap, candles…” she said. The list goes on.

As it picks up pace there would eventually be a website formed and members could continue to exchange goods and services on a daily basis. “Something tangible at the beginning,” she said, “but later it can be anything that you want to offer.” Services can also be exchanged; someone crafty could exchange services with someone who knows plumbing. She wants members to be able to list items they desire, so others know who to barter with. It’s an idea similar to Craigslist, but with no money exchanged and on a much more local scale. Degirmenci, herself, currently exchanges services – friends tend to her vegetables and fruits while she teaches in Turkey, and she gives permaculture and gardening council in return.

Her main goal is to bring the city around her together, slow down the pace of life and help others see the potential in their neighbors and backyards. Considering the achievements she has made elsewhere in the world, there is no reason it won’t be a productive Spring ahead.
Visit koruora.com to get involved.

By Caitlin Enwright

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