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Have you ever done a Round Robin?

Seed packets
There are many surprises found in Round Robin boxes

Have you ever joined a Round Robin, a fat bird stuffed with all kinds of gardening goodness? The “bird” is actually a box of any size that flies from state to state, never staying in one place longer than four days.

I learned of this treat and delightful game at an online gardening site roughly 7 years ago and have hosted many since then. The rules are simple but strict in order to protect each player’s investment. Whether you play on or offline, here are the basics:

Players sign up agreeing to follow whatever rules are in place. They agree to contribute seeds from their gardens or coupons to be redeemed for plants. The coupons are redeemed by filling out the form and mailing it back to the contributor via a SASE (self addressed and stamped envelope). Usually, no commercial seeds allowed unless they are exotics.

The size of the box may change somewhere along the route if it becomes worn. The more players, the larger it becomes which also contributes to the need to change it.

When the bird reaches the last player, it is returned to the hostess. The completion of the route may take anywhere from three to six months, depending on which states are involved. For instance, if you have 15 players and they each keep it for four days, it will take three and a half months to complete the route. That is, if everyone uses priority mailing.

Now for some rules:

  • Specify whether the robin has to be shipped priority mail. It is easier to use the three-day, one price option because as it grows, it becomes heavier.
  • Always use a tracking number for reference in case the bird gets lost.
  • There is a four-day limit for the Robin to rest at your house. She must be back in the air by the fifth day.
  • Players must post when they receive her and when they mail her out (with confirmation #)
  • If you play online, call out to the next two people ahead of you to see if they are ready to receive the bird. For instance, Mary is the first player. She will call out to Betty and Iris, (players 2 and 3)  “Are you ready to receive the robin?” Both should respond with something like “let’er fly” or “here birdie, birdie” to indicate they are still playing. Cute is always fun but you can just say “ready”.
  • If a player is unable to participate, it is their responsibility to notify the hostess so the route is adjusted.

The hostess is responsible for creating a master list of players, a route based on players’ addresses and mailing labels. It is simple to create a route in Google as long as zip codes are available. Google will put stickies on each area or state needed. That makes it easy to figure out which way she flies. Take a screen shot and save the file.

The most important rule is leaving it better than when you got it! If you add seeds when it gets to you that is exactly how you accomplish this. If you take from the box, you have to contribute.

The bird is the holder’s responsibility until the tracking number shows the next person has it.

Give it a try.


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