Carbon negative fruit and veg

Carbon footprint

Calculating the carbon footprint of the business is something we’ve done every year for over 10 years. This means understanding all the carbon emissions from everything we do in the business, as well as all the carbon sequestered (absorbed) in plants and soils on the farm.

Understanding what is happening in carbon terms on the farm enables us to make improvements in reducing the carbon intensity of our business, but also gives our customers a true and honest assessment of the impact of fruit and vegetables they buy from us.


The good news is that the farm overall is carbon negative, which means it absorbs more carbon than it emits. Here’s what the carbon balance looks like:

Overall carbon balance for Scilly Organics

So in total the farm is absorbing (net) over 19 tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide) every year. To put that in context, the average carbon footprint of a UK citizen is around 9 tonnes of CO2.

We can then look at what this means per hectare of land, and per tonne or kg of fruit or veg:

Carbon balance per hectare and per tonne

Every kg of produce sequesters 6.41kg of CO2. So this means that if you buy 1kg of potatoes, courgettes, salad, apples, etc from us then your own carbon footprint goes down by 6.41kg.

This is quite important to understand. Most activities we do as humans – eating, travelling, buying stuff, powering and heating our homes – emit CO2, which contributes to climate change. To tackle the Climate Emergency facing the planet, everyone must reduce their carbon footprint to near zero, within the next 10 years.

It can’t be overstated how much of a challenge this will be, and life will have to change quite radically. However the positive story here is that you can actually buy products that actually shrink your carbon footprint.

Imagine buying food that shrinks your carbon footprint, supports biodiversity, tastes great, is fresh, supports local business and is affordable. Well that’s exactly what you get when buying from Scilly Organics!

More detail

Looking at how the carbon footprint breaks down, you can see where our carbon emissions are, and how carbon is being sequestered:

Emissions and sequestration

Fuel use is one of the main emissions – mostly from diesel. Inventory (which is capital items) is another big contributor, mostly coming from tractors and polytunnels. These things have a lot of embedded energy in their manufacture.

Soil organic matter (SOM) is measured on an annual basis; when SOM is increasing it will sequester carbon, but if it decreases it will emit carbon (the SOM is oxidised and turned in to CO2). What you’ll see in the results is that some fields unfortunately lost some SOM and created an emission (1.6 tonnes), but other fields have gained SOM (2.3 tonnes), so overall we’re sequestering 0.7 tonnes in soils.

The other main carbon sinks are woodland and hedges. We have nearly a mile of mature hedges on the farm that are allowed to grow big. We also have 1/2 acre of elm woodland and over 1 acre of fast growing Pittosporum woodland. Overall the hedges and woodland sequester about 20 tonnes of CO2, which is a phenomenal figure.

Areas for improvement

We always strive to improve, so will focus on these things for the following year:

  1. Increase the amount of SOM gain in our soils
  2. Do more hedge and tree planting
  3. Look at opportunities to reduce diesel use

We’ll publish the new carbon footprint calculation when it’s done and let’s hope there’ll be an even greater improvement.

How did we calculate this?

By using the free online Farm Carbon Calculator, the most comprehensive and user friendly carbon calculators for UK farmer and growers to use

Jonathan Smith

I started Scilly Organics in 2003, and it was the first certified organic farm on the Islands. We continue to supply the highest quality fruit and vegetables, available fresh on our stall and at certain eateries on Scilly.