If you’re at the stage of wanting to sell your seed, you’ll probably have your seed growing, harvesting, and processing down to a fine art right? Well, when doing these collectively there are a few things to look out for. Wales Coordinator Katie Hastings discusses…


Actually growing the seed should be the easy bit, right? All the Wales Seed Hub members have been through our Seed Sovereignty Programme Year-Long Seed Production training, and so they understand all the considerations around isolation distances, plant health and population sizes. Any new members joining the WSH should have either undertaken the same intermediate training or had some experience producing high quality seed before.


Photo by Wales Seed Hub

Good quality seed births good quality plants. We have written up some Wales Seed Hub Agreements, which set out what members are agreeing to when they join us. A salient part of these agreements addresses quality issues, setting out generally understood commercial standards such as minimum isolation distances, minimum population sizes and minimum germination rates. 

We are also lucky to have an expert in our midst, with one of our members being a well-known seed saver. This adds to the peer-to-peer learning happening in our group. We use monthly meetings to update on our crop progression, with the opportunity to answer one another’s questions and share information. This has led to a bigger existential question over why people join the WSH, with some members stating that the peer-to-peer learning was their main motivation, of even more importance than selling seed. The value of these hubs for continued learning and mutual support should not be underestimated.  

Photo by Wales Seed Hub

WSH members grow seed on their own smallholdings and farms. They are responsible for the crop’s treatment right up to delivery to the central seed store. This means that there needs to be an element of trust and transparency within the group. It helps that some of our members live in the same regions, enabling them to visit one another’s crops.  

Selection is another important component of seed production, and it can really help to have variety descriptors to enable us to select for the correct crop traits.  

It’s important to understand that crops fail. While seed crops must be treated with diligence and care, we can be hit by pests, diseases or unexpected weather. Farming is risky, and our members take a risk on growing seed crops they might not be able to sell. For this reason, it makes sense for us to spread risk around, with rare crops being grown by more than one member. It also makes sense for members to grow more than one seed crop, so that when failures occur there will hopefully be successes with a different crop. 



  • Ensure your growers are properly trained 
  • Be transparent about what is happening in members’ fields 
  • Foster an atmosphere of peer-to-peer learning in which you can share knowledge with each other 
  • Have written agreements on quality standards 
  • Have a system in place for how to deal with poor quality seed 
  • Accept failures, they happen! 
  • Only sell high quality seed  


Photo by Wales Seed Hub



Harvesting and Processing


Our members harvest and process their own seed. They have different ways of storing their seed safely and different techniques for getting their seed sufficiently dry. In the humid conditions of Wales, drying is certainly a challenge! While we would definitely benefit from dehumidifying facilities in the future, currently we are limited to silica gel, computer fans, windy days and airy barns.  

While certain items of machinery would make our lives easier, we do most of our processing my hand. This is a huge consideration when looking at which crops to grow. Some crops will be much harder to thresh and clean than others. Our members have found children, family visitors and neighbours very handy when it comes to threshing and winnowing seed! 

Photo by Jason Horner

As mentioned before, it’s vitally important to keep batches separate. If half of a crop is dried in the air and half is dried indoors, these batches should be kept separate and given different batch numbers. If we find that one batch doesn’t germinate well and another does, we can keep those batches distinct and can sell only the batch that meets germination standards.

Once a seed crop is dry, clean and ready to be packaged, it needs to undergo a germination test. We have guidelines in our WSH Agreements for how germination tests should be undertaken. The guidelines include growing mediums, temperatures and length of time for the germination test. These standards have been taken from commercial guidelines obtained by our members and modified. Growers test a sample of their seed and photograph the results, giving us a shared record of the germination rates. Any seed that falls under our specified germination threshold (which is generally around 90%) cannot be sold. 

Photo by Wales Seed Hub



  • Think about storage and processing when choosing crops to grow 
  • Keep batches separate 
  • Have written guidelines for germination tests 
  • Keep a record of germination results 
  • Rope people in to help with processing, it can be a fun activity! 



This article is part of a full guide based off lessons learned from the Wales Seed Hub. For Week 1 – Finding your Varieties, click here and Week 2 – Records and Legalities, click here. The complete guide will be available in our Resources section, and will be updated regularly as the knowledge and experience of the Hub grows. This is just one example of setting up a seed cooperative, but we hope that by detailing the journey of the Wales Seed Hub we can help other groups looking to follow a similar path in the future. You can learn more about the Wales Seed Hub here and support them by buying their seeds here.’