Online Bartering: A Tool to Develop Sustainable Food Networks?

1258179_hands_above_4The web is a wonderful thing, at least in the land of creating networks for sustainable food. Foodies can look up databases of local food producers, check out their local farmers’ markets and CSAs and browse through farmers’ web sites, all without leaving their home. Of course, there are the food box programs too: order online and have sustainable and organic food delivered to your door.

These internet networks spread out into the tangible community of actual people working for sustainable food in your local area. Connect online with a farmer, then head out to the farm to do some u-pick or pick up some produce. Discover a CSA online and become part of a community of people who pick up food and potluck together.

The bartering community also jives nicely with the sustainable food community. Online venues like Craigslist work well as a place to find people to pick your tree fruit or to arrange a sustainable food activist gathering.

Now, there’s Zakle. What’s Zakle? It’s a bartering web site, but it’s not based on stuff. It’s based on the idea of trading services, or favors as they are called in Zakle-land. Post a service that you require, and take someone else up on their service needs. Earn points for helping others. The beauty of Zakle is that it does not need to be a direct, one-to-one transaction between two individuals. One person can help another, and that person can help a totally different person. All benefit.

How does this work into the sustainable and local food trend? Well, looking for someone to design your co-op food web site or pick your fruit tree? Need research assistance or a brain trust to find the best local blueberries? Do you want to create a network for local foodies in your area, but you’re a bit of a Luddite? Zakle could be a powerful tool for a small nonprofit or a growing business, and it’s free.

Social networking tools are abundant in this era of exploding web growth. Zakle adds to this mix by creating an internationally-networked community of people who have needs and who have skills. Will an online bartering site work to promote a sustainable food nonprofit or move it into reality? Perhaps. It’s about picking what works for you, and if you’re looking for local or international help for a specific sustainable food problem, online bartering could be the answer.