INCREASE – Intelligent Collections of Food Legumes Genetic Resources for European Agrofood Systems

Share the Bean: A Citizen Science Experiment

Register now for the 2nd round of the INCREASE Citizen Science Experiment!

Are you new to the INCREASE Citizen Science Experiment and want to start the bean growing journey in 2022? Then, please download the “INCREASE CSA” App and register your participation until 28 February 2022.

Have you already participated in the 1st round of the experiment in 2021 and you want to continue growing beans in 2022? Then, please register your participation for the 2nd round via the “INCREASE CSA” App until 31 December 2021. Please note that we consider all those citizens participants of the 1st round, that have actually received beans. All others please register as a new participant.

Science is not limited to scientists. Everyone can get involved.
Public participation in scientific research is becoming more and more crucial in increasing everyone’s understanding of science and its benefit to society. Most importantly, it advances scientific research itself. …and it equally plays a crucial part in INCREASE. Here, we are all about beans! The Citizen Science Experiment, conducted as part of the project, calls on all interested citizens to voluntarily contribute to and test an innovative decentralised approach to seed conservation, multiplication and sharing in order to conserve agro-biodiversity.

All you will need is access to a field, garden, terrace or balcony.

With the help of the common bean, you can get involved in:

  • promoting genetic diversity of legumes in Europe
  • disseminating scientific knowledge about genetic resources and food legumes
  • developing a method and knowledge among citizens that could be applied to other crop genetic resources
  • and establishing and testing a decentralised approach to genetic resources conservation, sharing and valorisation

What you will do as part of the experiment:

  • receive a packet with a few different (ca. 5) bean varieties. They will be enough to fit in a mini plot in your garden, terrace or balcony.
  • plant and grow bean seeds according to given instructions. The aim is to have at least one plant, as not all seeds may germinate…Your beans can be climbing or bushy types, you will get the information along with the seed package after we chose which varieties you will get (most likely you get both types, so be prepared to give them some a climbing help). Since beans do not tolerate frost, please sow your beans only when it is safely frost-free in your region.
  • nurture your beans, collect and record information about them using the INCREASE CSA App that will constantly be updated with the necessary functions
  • suggest tips and best practices, e.g. as text, images and videos, that could help other participants via the dedicated app
  • Harvest the seeds and
    • reproduce the seeds for the following years (we will distribute the seeds just once to each citizen but the citizen science initiative will run over four years). The seeds will then be multiplied by citizens that will keep the citizen science initiative running beyond the planned five years of INCREASE.
    • offer the seeds for exchange to other citizens (using a protocol developed together with FAO)
    • cook and taste them!
    • send your assessment and recipes that will be included in “Thousands of traditional and innovative recipes to cook beans” published on the INCREASE website

Why would you take part?

  1. To contribute to the collection of information through
    • assessing the potential and the diversity of more than 1000 common bean local varieties sampled originally from farmers’ fields
    • measuring crop traits under local growing conditions showing the adaptation to different European environments and develop a photo gallery
    • providing your preferences for bean colours, shapes and taste
    • listing traditional and innovative cooking recipes and uses
    • submitting narrative text describing local tradition, historical facts related to common bean but also original stories related to or involving the common bean
    • using your own favourite common bean variety to be compared with those of the citizen science initiative and so contributing to the wider common bean databases
  2. To contribute to the use of information provided through
    • exploring the huge resources developed with the help of all participants and compare different varieties including their DNA information that could help to reconstruct the history of dissemination of local varieties in Europe
    • exchanging information and practices with other participants from the whole of Europe
  3. To contribute to exchanging seeds with other participants (following all the requirements of the international treaty on biodiversity and genetic resources promoting the benefit sharing)
  4. To contribute to developing new varieties by crossing and selecting specific variants
  5. To ultimately contribute to improve biodiversity in Europe, and improve nutrition through healthy diets that include legumes

If you have any questions about the Citizen Science Experiment, please reach out to Increase.CSE-team@ipk-gatersleben.de