Lemons for Yeast for Flour: The Bartering Economy Explodes on Nextdoor

Nextdoor suddenly looks like Oregon Trail 2.0

Katie Reid


Michael Brill of San Francisco needed lemons.

He was going to pick up some 15-year-old sourdough starter that a neighbor had offered on Nextdoor, and he wanted to bring something in return. The lemons from another neighbor’s lemon tree might work, he thought, but then he’d need to offer that neighbor something, too. He came up with a plan: He’d give his neighbor some of the finished bread in exchange for the lemons in exchange for the sourdough starter.

Only one problem — he was out of flour.

Long story short, he traded a drip irrigation hose for some flour so he could make the bread to exchange for the lemons, which he had exchanged for the 15-year-old sourdough starter he’d wanted in the first place.

A simple trade, really.

“Like a week ago, even, I would go up to the grocery store and now I’m just making decisions to not do it,” he said. “I would say the past week or so — I’m now making conscious decisions to not go.”

Brill is part of a social media trend becoming increasingly common during the coronavirus outbreak that has forced millions into isolation: bartering.