Becoming a numismatic ‘locavore’

Farmers’ market money substitutes increase as local food demand rises
By , Coin World
Published : 06/03/15
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Now that many farmers’ markets around the country are opening for another season, the money-minded have a new crop of collectibles to consider. 

In recent years, the use of wooden nickels, metal tokens, and paper scrip at farmers’ markets has increased, leaving many items for the intrepid collector to track down. And it gives the phrase “paper or plastic” a whole new interpretation. 

Last year, metal, plastic, and paper examples of monetary substitutes were found at farmers’ markets within a few hours of Coin World’s office in Sidney, Ohio, and many markets around the country are using scrip substituting for money. This usage mirrors the growth in farmers’ markets nationally over the past decade.

In 2014, 8,268 farmers’ markets were identified as operating in the United States, according to an Aug. 14 announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That number has more than doubled compared to the 3,706 markets of a decade earlier. Much of that growth was concentrated in the last four years — the number of farmers’ markets has grown nearly 35 percent since 2010. 

One factor driving the growth in farmers’ markets is the increasing number of locavores, which are generally described as people who focus on consuming food that is harvested within 100 miles of their location. For the most part, we’ll stick to that definition as we explore the burgeoning demand for farmers’ market money. 

Metal money substitute

Piqua, Ohio, is just about eight miles down Interstate 75 from Amos Media’s Sidney office, home to Coin World

Around 2010, the Main Street Piqua organization, which runs the city’s farmers’ market, commissioned a local company to produce “market money,” which is available for purchase every Thursday during the Piqua Community Farmers Market season. 

Each market money token is valued at $1 and can be purchased like a gift certificate and used at any of the market vendors. 

The tokens were produced and donated by Apex Aluminum Die Casting Co. The Piqua-based company specializes in parts for the automotive, industrial, and electronics industries.

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