Being Zero Carbon is at the core of what we do (the clue is in the name). We want farming to be carbon negative, which is actually more achievable than you might think. We have a plan to reach a series of milestones on the route to carbon negative farming. So far we’ve built a farm in an old disused air raid shelter which we power using 100% renewable energy to grow crops that use less space, less water and take less time to grow. In March 2021 we reached our most recent milestone and became a Certified Carbon Neutral + Organisation. This means that we are net carbon negative; offsetting more than we emit.
The process for attaining carbon negative certification began firstly via carbon counting. We accounted for all our Scope 1, Scope 2 and some Scope 3 emissions for the last financial year. These are all our direct and indirect emissions such as energy use, transport emissions, water consumption and more. With the help of Carbon Footprint Ltd we have measured how much we emitted in the last year.
Once our carbon footprint was calculated, our attention turned to offsetting. After carefully reviewing our options, we have embarked on the process of offsetting our historic emissions all the way back to our inception. We opted to do this via UK tree planting initiatives focused on planting native British broad leaf varieties supplied by Carbon Footprint Ltd, to provide wildlife habitats, support biodiversity, reduce CO2 and rewild the natural landscape.
We realise that tree planting and offsetting have their critics. As such we have been diligent in seeking third party advice from non-profit organisations to coordinate a long term strategy to support tree planting projects which will have positive impacts on biodiversity. Ultimately, for offsetting to succeed, trees need to be well managed to ensure that they grow to maturity and fulfil the carbon sequestration potential. In recognition of this, Carbon Footprint Ltd ‘buddies’ all UK tree planting projects with the protection of existing trees by partnering domestic projects with certified REDD international offsetting programmes designed to prevent deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
Now that we are certified as a Carbon Negative Organisation, the responsibility is on us to take the next step and outline our own standards for reduction. For this we have a variety of strategies concerning our water, waste, packaging, distribution and even factoring in emissions from our supply chain to reduce our carbon footprint going forward. All this will neatly be tied together within our wider sustainability strategy road map for the next five years. In 2021, this will be available within our Sustainable Strategy Report.
We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far but know that there’s still a long way to go.
A cornerstone of our sustainability strategy is certification. Certification and accreditation ensures that we are transparent and accountable for the reductions we aim to make. Our Carbon Neutral + certification from Carbon Footprint Ltd ensures that our efforts to become carbon negative meet internationally recognised standards, but there are plenty of other initiatives which we are assessing, including Organic Certification.
Unfortunately, our delicious microgreens and baby leaf can’t be sold as organic… at least for the time being. The EU has not legally extended the organic certification to hydroponics and aquaponics systems because the crops are not grown in soil. According to these regulations, organic production is only possible when plants are grown naturally in soil. Alas, hydroponic produce is instead grown in perpetually-flowing water in which nutrients are dissolved and absorbed by plants rooted to a substrate. Nevertheless, in the US, some farms using these methods can be certified organic. Here in the UK, we are yet to bring organic certification into the debate. So until then we’ll continue to advocate for Controlled Environment Farming to be incorporated into such certifications.