Senda Verde Permaculture Eco Center

Friday, 12 March 2010

Bartering is back

Valerie Gates is not exactly the person you'd expect to go public with the declaration: Will work for food. But that is just what the Wellesley creative-marketing designer and mother of two did last month.

When her business began to lag in the fall, Gates, a 43-year-old who entered the marketing world nearly 15 years ago after working in the Los Angeles entertainment industry, devised a creative way to reach new clients, feed her family, and help the community all at the same time.

The concept was simple: She would offer the creative services of her firm, Gates Studios, to five local farmers in exchange for food or shares in Community Supported Agriculture programs. Gates sent out about 60 e-mails notifying area farms and farming organizations and waited to see if her idea would catch on.

Will Work for Food gives farmers access to branding and marketing skills to grow and sustain their way of life and, at the same time, teaches her family about where good food comes from while putting healthier food on the table each day.

A family affair

The entire family is in on the project. From Dad and business partner, Barry, who is learning to cook all the great food stuffs, to Gates and their children -eight-year-old Olivia, a vegetarian, and 13-year-old, Cameron - the family is on a journey to discover the wonder of where food comes from and the people who grow it the slow and natural way.

"It's fun for me," said Gates, whose energy and enthusiasm is contagious. "I'm pretty much a city girl. I appreciate my food more. I appreciate where my food is coming from more now."

The family went on one of their first farm visits today, an event televised by the local news. The big news? Olivia held a newborn lamb, the family learned farmers don't name their animals (for obvious reasons), and they got to see an ingenious mobile hen house. Better news yet? The family is gaining a deeper understanding of the mysteries of the natural world, the pressing need to be sensitive to the earth, and the vital role of food in daily life.

And the farmers are equally thrilled. Sixteen have lined up to work with Gates Studio. Gates and her family are at the precipice of a trend.

Now, someone get Barry a copy of Ruth Reichl's classic Gourmet Cookbook and Deborah Madison's fabulous Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Bull frog Acres new logo


We are currently working with our first group of farm partners on our design for food barter tier but are also available to offer our complete marketing and design services to other local and national small farms and growers on our next three tiers of the project as follows on a first come, first served basis: 1) Second five growers and farms 75% off our fees. 2) Third five growers and farms 50% off our fees. 3) Fourth five farms and growers 25% off our fees. If interested, please contact us at

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