Carats – Garden Dollars

St Margaret’s Bay’s First Local Currency

Transition Bay has launched its first local currency, called “Carats.”  Three St Margaret’s Bay area farmers are already using the currency to pay their helpers for farm chores and harvesting.

Phil Warman from Boutiliers Point says

Carats are a proverbial win-win situation.  As a producer, I get to defer my payments until I have a product to trade, while the worker acquires useful information about all aspects of growing a crop knowing that in the future they can exchange Carats for a fresh product which they have personally helped to produce”.

“Hopefully, we can extend the Carat exchange concept to other goods and services beside fresh produce.”

Diane Graves and Marina Neytcheva agree that a day spent at the gardens of Bob Cervelli, Head of St Margarets Bay, was well worth the effort – both from what they learned and from their day’s wage paid in Carats.


Area vegetable gardeners and small farm operators can always use help, but often do not want to pay cash for the help.  They may be willing to pay in vegetables, but veggies are mostly available towards the end of the season and most of the help is needed in the spring.

As a solution, gardeners and farmers can now print and issue their own currency!   Their hired help gets paid with this local currency during the season, and the currency gets redeemed at any time during the season for the market value of vegetables.  Hence – the “Carat” – a local garden currency!

Workers get paid first by gaining knowledge and experience in gardening.  They also get paid in Carats at a pre-agreed rate per hour, and can exchange their Carats at any time with the gardener for the fair market value of the vegetables.  Or, they can use them as currency to pay for any other goods and services, and the folks who received them in payment can come to the gardener for redemption.   The gardener becomes the ‘Central Bank’ and is backing the currency in vegetables.

Carats are issued in two denominations – $5.00 and $10.00.  Each Carat is dated when issued and has an expiry date of 15 months from that date.  A Carat is essentially a coupon valuable in redemption for vegetables in a barter exchange.  Bartering is not an attempt to avoid taxes, and any applicable Canadian tax reporting laws should be followed by each party.

To become an issuer of Carats, or to find out about participating local farms and gardens that are issuing Carats, contact

Click the link to see the project brief: Carats BRIEF