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Wood ‘gold’ circulates through local farmers markets

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Mother Lode Gold, a wooden currency circulates at the CalaverasGrown farmers markets in Calaveras County. The currency is crafted by local farmer and woodworker Sean Kriletich.

A new type of currency called Mother Lode Gold was introduced at the local CalaverasGrown farmers markets in August this year.

With $3,000 of “Mother Lode Gold” in circulation already, locals are lining up to see what the hype is about. Small complimentary “dollars” are given to those who show up to the farmers markets in person and to those who invest in the wood currency.

CalaverasGrown has over 100 producers that come together to provide fresh and local produce to the community.

Patrons receive $5 in “market bucks” when they attend a farmers market event, which has been funded by the Mark Twain Health Care District.

There is also an $11 “Mother Lode Gold” coin that has the purchasing value of $11 but is sold to patrons for only $10.

Local farmer and woodworker Sean Kriletich is responsible for the production of the new currency circulating around the communities.

“We’re trying to incentivize the customer to use it, giving them $11 worth of purchasing for $10,” Kriletich said. “We then encourage our members to exchange it among themselves.”

The San Andreas farmers market sold $800 in the wooden currency on the first day alone.

“All currency is based on belief,” Kriletich said. “We happen to believe in the U.S. dollar. We don’t know who runs the federal reserve, but we believe in it. We are in a crisis right now. And in crisis are times when you can make big changes.”

The hope of the currency is to eventually be able to exchange goods and services with the wooden coins.

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People attend the San Andreas Farmers Market, one of the places Mother Lode Gold is distributed.

“Currency circulates here so it can provide jobs here,” Kriletich said. “Two to five years from now people are going to get paid for their labor with this currency around. (Farmers) can pay someone to do some work on their farm. They could then spend the currency at locally owned grocery stores.”

The wood coins are crafted from locally cut ponderosa pines and are designed using a laser engraver. Kriletich reported that a batch of 100 coins typically takes around two hours to cut and engrave.

“The Mother Lode Gold is definitely a complementary currency. We’re not looking to slew the U.S. dollar,” Kriletich said. “And if people ask about counterfeiting – if we have that problem, we are doing something really amazing.”

Kriletich has hopes to eventually gain sponsorship opportunities through the wood currency movement. Businesses would be able to purchase a set of wooden coins that would have their logo burned onto one side.

It will be a way to promote their businesses within the local community, Kriletich said.

Aside from the new wooden currency, the CalaverasGrown Mobile Farmers’ Market will continue to be available to patrons.

Orders can be placed year-round at calaverasgrown.org. A list of pick-up locations is displayed on their website, and over 500 items such local plants, herbs, honey, vinegar, olive oil, coffee beans and art are listed for sale. Patrons who choose to order online will receive $5 free to spend – a gift funded through CalaverasGrown.

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