Seed circles

Saving seeds in a small group adds a little bit more to all the advantages of saving your own seed. A group decides to work together by each individual taking the responsibility of growing one type of plant. It might be a variety they are really good at growing or enjoy eating. It might be say a special carrot that is suitable for conditions in Reading’s small gardens.

When the seed is harvested everyone swaps their seeds with the others in the group – so if five people join in you grow one lot of seed and have five varieties to grow next year.

The advantages:-

  1. Varietal stability You often need to grow a number of individual parent plants to maintain a genetically steady seed type and if each person in the group focused on just one type of vegetable this burden is spread amongst the group.
  2. The seed over generations selects characteristics very suitable to the local conditions of soil, water and temperature.
  3. Strengthens social links.
  4. You know where the seed comes from and it is ethically produced.

We would like to encourage people to form seed circles in Reading. This is simple to do and allows the gradual development of seeds that are particularly suited to the local environment:

  1. Collect five people happy to grow five easy vegetables from which to save seeds
  2. Each person grows one variety of vegetable for seeds
  3. At harvest time, everyone makes up four packets of seeds, one for each of the other participants. In return, everyone gets four different packets of seeds, one from each of the participants.
  4. Any surplus seeds can be donated back to the seed swap

Easy vegetables to start with are peas, beans, radishes, spinach and annual herbs such as coriander and dill.

For more details, see Real Seeds "Why not start a seed circle?"

If you'd like to join a seed circle in Reading, please get in touch by email to

Related resources

RFGN Guide to Growing French Beans

The Reading Food Growing Network guide to growing French beans, both climbing and dwarf.

Download: RFGN Guide to Growing French Beans (PDF format)

Seed Saving Guidelines

Seed saving guidelines and resources from Garden Organic

Top Tips for Seed Saving

Permaculture Magazine's tips on seed saving