At a glance

Level of involvement: 
Length of process: 
1.5 - 2 hours
Number of participants: 
Participant selection: 
Self selected participants attending as individuals (open access process)
Online / Offline: 

Trade School is a grassroots school that brings people together to exchange knowledge and skills with bartering at its heart. Teachers deliver lessons ranging from photography to philosophy in exchange for services, actions or items from students.

Trade School in New York by David Felix Sutcliffe


Trade School logoFrom the Trade School site:

It works like this:

1. Teachers propose classes and ask for barter items from students. For example, if you teach a class about making butter, you might ask students to bring heavy cream, jars, bread, music tips, clothes, vegetables, or help with something like finding an apartment.

2. Students sign up for classes by agreeing to bring a barter item for the teacher.

Trade School is for people who value hands-on knowledge, mutual respect, and the social nature of exchange. We believe that everyone has something to offer.

For information on starting your own Trade School visit the site or consult the “How Do I Start A Trade School?” free guide.


Trade School is open to anyone.



  • Trade School prides itself on being cost-free as no money is exchanged. Costs will only involve the items necessary for the lesson that students will bring along, or any that arise for the ‘exchange’ expected by the teacher for their service.

Approximate time expense


  • The recommended amount of time for a class is 1.5 hours with 30 minutes gap between classes.
  • Classes involving crafts should be longer, including time to tidy up.


  • There is a great deal of freedom and flexibility regarding the subject matter of classes.
  • Trade School brings people from different walks of life together to learn about common interests.
  • The open and inclusive process means anyone can get involved.


  • It may be difficult to arrange an appropriate space to host the event free of charge.


Trade School began in New York in 2009, with sessions since being held across the globe. It was developed by three of the five co-founders of the bartering network, Louise Ma, Rich Watts and Caroline Woolard.


Description section contains content from the ‘About’ section. Image belongs to Trade School. 

External links



Photo Sascha Duser Pexels