History of the Burlington Bread Currency Project

The History and Closure of Burlington Bread

Burlington Bread History and Closure


Community currencies usually have a different design form a normal national currency of a country. Normally, these currencies are only designed for a certain region or state to serve varied purposes than the traditional currency. Years back, many states used community currencies to fulfill different goals. For instance, Burlington Currency Project – BCP lasted for just 10 years, between 1997 and 2007. The Project administered Burlington Bread, the community currency of Burlington, Vermont.

Here is a brief history of the Burlington Currency Project

What Was It?

Primarily, BCP was established as a special group that featured volunteers and afterwards, it received support from the city and other relevant institutions. The project was started by a local art teacher, Mark Montalban, who commenced to research on the local currencies. His aim was to overcome the insufficiency of the existing monetary system and find out more impartial options. The project was aimed at establishing a local currency for Burlington in order to improve the local economy, prop up small businesses and farmers, and improve exchanges between the members of the community. The members of the BCP worked on giving the currency a name for its uniqueness. The final name that was given was Burlington Bread.

What Could People Use The Currency For?

When The Burlington Currency project was established, it was aimed at giving the community a sense of ownership when it comes to barter trade or other transactions. BCP focused on accomplishing at least 10% of the Vermont Business transactions to be conducted by the local currency. The goods and/or services that the currency would buy included the following;


  • Food: The Vermont area switched 10% of the food consumed to those grown within the state and neglect food for other states. Some local groceries sold majority of their food in exchange of Burlington Bread.
  • Coffee: A local coffee shop that is known for its devotion to the community, Radio Bean Coffee, cheerfully accepted the Burlington Bread. The owner, Lee Anderson accepted 100% Burlington Bread for food and drinks at the coffee shop.
  • Grants: BCP provided Bread grants to the community via donation from members. The grants were given to Committee on Temporary Shelter, Joint Urban Ministry Project, Arethusa Collective farm, Chittenden County Food Shelf and Chittenden County Community Center.
  • Garden Supplies: Farmers were encouraged to buy their garden products and supplies using the Bread in order to promote the local agriculture as well as the currency. Most of the garden supplies were bought within the State.
  • Building and Home Renovations: Home owners could use the currency to use building contractors to work on their homes, some services included, new roofs and roof restorations, pest and building inspections, building fences, home renovations including new carports, pergolas and patios. Many sub contractors enjoyed the currency as they got more contacts for cash paying jobs.

Why Was The Currency Introduced?

The main reason why the currency was introduced in the first place is to promote the local economy. Nevertheless, other reasons that agitated the project to be initiated were;

  • Promote Business Startups: The project introduced the currency to the community in order to create 0% interest on loans. This was meant to fund several projects and business ventures in the community. It was also meant to make it easier to pay the loan in comparison to other bank loans that are offered in dollars.
  • Honoring People’s Skills: The project was aimed at expanding the unofficial barter trade that was running already. The barter trade was to be expanded to a bigger audience by honoring the people’s skills that are not represented in the job market.
  • Promote Paper Currency in Vermont: They aimed at building an electronic system, which could handle a many transactions and help in creating a solid, related regional paper currency. This was to spread all over Vermont.

Why Did It Stop?

A decline popularity of the currency was observed throughout the area and some little issues were raised. In 2006, an unpaid executive director, Amy Kirschner, gave notice that she is ending her work at the Burlington Currency Project. The project was deemed more business-like than being a non-profit project, yet it didn’t have a revenue model to be a business-like project. Finally, In March, 2007, during the annual meeting, it was voted that the organization should be closed and it was successfully passed.


During the meeting, only a few members were present, which clearly indicated that it was over even before the ruling. Many of the employees claim that the closure was not about the financial behavior. Nevertheless, there was less accountability. For instance, it was agreed that when one takes a loan of a number of Bread, they would have to sell it all in case they wanted to cancel it. This condition was not adhered to and combined with other factors and disagreements the currency that was burlington bread ceased to operate.