Yesterday, I found myself explaining the concept of local community currency to someone who had never heard about them before. Because we were next to a farmers’ market, I picked that context to support my stories about the benefits of local community currencies.
I built upon the story of the Taft Farms local currency, in which a farmer issued his own money to raise funds for the winter, and I explained that a farmers market could create a bank that would issue paper money redeemable only at the farmers market the following year, possibly at a discount (ex. $9 for $10 face value) and use the cash raised to provide credit to farmers in need during the winter season.
Additionally, the farmers market bank could promote itself by donating some of this paper money to non-profit organizations of its choice in exchange for ads for the farmers market in promotional materials issued by the non-profit organizations. Non-profits could follow the Community Way and sell this paper money at auctions to raise funds in real cash.
Last, I explained that the farmers market currency might be denominated in a different unit than the US dollar, say a “basket”, which composition would be defined by the farmer’s market every year. You could buy today baskets and use them as an inflationary hedge if you are a regular customer of the market and are worrying about your fiat national currency losing purchasing power over time.
Today, I found that some of my examples are not that far-fetched from reality.
The Farmers Market in Venice, CA has a program, which is very similar to Community Way: it offers certified market money subsidized by vendors to the organizations of their choice in exchange for mention of the donation in the printed materials of the events organized by organizations receiving donations. Organizations can use this market money to purchase good or auction them off to raise funds for the organization.
I also found two cases of farmers market tokens used as cash alternative: Crescent City Farmers market and Portland Farmers Market both provide a way to buy at one time batches of wood tokens that can be used as cash on the market. This is actually provided as a payment facility for those who want to shop with their credit card at merchants on the market not accepting the, but it could be easily extended to support the scenarios presented above.