By Laura Haefeli

CALAVERAS COUNTY (CBS13) — A new currency is circulating around the CalaverasGrown farmers’ market.

Dubbed Mother Lode Gold, the new wooden currency displays the Calaveras County frog on one side and the dollar value on the other.

“We’re actually taking dead ponderosa pine trees and turning them into these little wooden coins,” said Sean Kriletich, President of CalaverasGrown Farmers’ Markets.

It looks like money may grow on trees after all.

“We’re here in the Mother Lode region, so we decided to call this Mother Lode gold,” Kriletich said.

Here’s how it works. Customers at the market can purchase an eleven mother lode gold piece for ten U.S. dollars.

“You already get a 10 percent discount for walking in the door,” said Kriletich, who added that customers are then encouraged to exchange the wooden currency with vendors.

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Kris Mangini sells olive oil at the farmers’ market. She thinks the new currency system is a win, win.

“It’s really beneficial for our customers because they get a free dollar,” she said.

Mangini said Mother Lode gold also benefits the vendors because they can rely on a more consistent customer base.

“We’re trying to attract more people to shop at our vendors… and so we’re giving them extra value for coming out and being here,” said Kriletich.

Kriletich also said the currency is meant to help stimulate the local economy.

“The fact is we’re in a socio-economic crisis and it’s really hurting small scale rural business disproportionately,” Kriletich said. “So how do we keep this economy growing right here?”

Farmers’ market customers like Katie Skartvedt said they enjoy being a part of the new system.

“It’s a tough time to be a small business,” she said. “It’s important to support them as much as we can.”

The vendors are allowed to exchange the Mother Lode gold back to U.S. dollars because not everyone accepts ponderosa pine.

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