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

Share the Bean: A Citizen Science Experiment

Registration for participation in the 3rd round of the INCREASE Citizen Science Experiment has now closed.

  • To all the many participants: The INCREASE team wishes you a happy and successful bean growing journey!
    Please click here to find out where to go from here!

    The next steps of your bean growing journey:

    1. App update
      The INCREASE CSA app has been adapted for the needs of round three and now features a seed exchange functionality for citizens of the previous rounds. The app is now also available in Hungarian and Dutch. As a first step to start your experiment, please go to your app store (available for iOS and for Android) and update the app.
      General information for all participants: The submenu “My CSE” is the central place for conducting your experiment.
      Important for new participants: Only once the Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) has been activated for you, you are able to see the area “My CSE”!

    2. Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) acceptance
      The INCREASE team has already started to assign bean varieties to participants. However, due to the sheer volume, we will not be able to have the seed bags filled and activate the SMTA for all new participants at the same time. We will inform you by email as soon as your individual SMTA is activated (we will start with southern Europe as they do the sowing earlier). Only then the menu “My CSE” will become visible and you will find “confirm data” in the menu. Here, you will need to confirm your personal data and shipping information to ensure that you receive the seeds at the correct address. Please make sure you give us the address where the seeds should be sent to and carefully check before sending the information via the app. Corrections in addresses cannot be made in the app. In case of entering an incorrect address, please send an email with the correct shipping address to as quickly as possible. After some time, when your data is extracted from our server, “SMTA” will appear in the app and you can submit your acceptance within 10 days from the receipt of the SMTA activation email.
      Read more about the SMTA here.

    3. Dispatch of seeds
      In Ancona, Italy, the INCREASE team assembles all seed envelopes for the participants. As soon as you accepted the SMTA, the seeds will be sent to you by post. Please check your mailbox regularly for an envelope from Italy. Mail delivery can sometimes take a while and unfortunately, in rare cases, something may get lost on the way. Unfortunately, this is out of our hands. Please contact us if the envelope has not arrived after about three weeks after accepting the SMTA by emailing

    4. Seed validation
      Once you hold the seeds in your hands you need to do the validation step via the “My CSE” menu of the CSA app. To do so, you must place the beans on the provided colour checker and take a picture of each bean variety. Make sure to not mix up varieties during this step. More info and a tutorial can be found under the point “Validation” here.

    5. Choose your skill level
      After you have validated your seeds, please determine your skill level via the “My CSE” section. You can choose between basic, medium and expert level with an increasing number of bean traits to score. Note, you can change the level at any time during the experiment. To get an overview of the different levels and what traits they include, please have a look here.

    6. Sowing your seeds
      Once you have made your choice for the skill level, “Sowing” will appear in the “My CSE” menu. Here, you can determine the sowing layout and inform us about your sowing conditions and the sowing date of each plot. Check out our sowing tutorials on the website.

    7. Bean trait scoring (phenotyping) The traits are organised in submenus to have a better overview. The submenus are: emergence, plant growth, flowering, pod ripening, harvesting, post-harvest (pods), post-harvest (seeds). The traits for each submenu are already visible on our website, please go to the ‘expert' level to see all traits.

    Throughout the experiment, please check your emails regularly (also your spam folder, just in case), as we will inform you in detail about every step necessary.

    Additional notes:

    • To learn more about the background and motivation of the participants, a dedicated questionnaire will be made available in the App in the near future, we will inform by email when it is active.
    • If you wish, you may join one of the language specific Facebook groups to exchange information, tips and pictures with other participants.

    With our very best wishes and a big thank you for your support,
    The INCREASE Citizen Science Experiment Team

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

Find out more on how to register for the Citizen Science Experiment via the INCREASE CSA app here.

  1. Go to your App store (Google Play or Apple App store) and search for INCREASE CSA.
  2. Download the INCREASE CSA App and install it on your smartphone.
  3. Register by entering a login email address and password.
  4. Proceed to the registration of the 2nd round of the Citizen Science Experiment by providing the required info for the shipping of your seeds.