Behind the Box: The cleverest of carrots.

Meet Freshgro. As part of our Behind the Box series, we’re digging into the journey of their Chantenay carrots, which were rejected by supermarkets for being – wait for it – “too big”.

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Aside from being sweeter than their regular-sized cousins (and a whole lot cuter, too), these chunky little chaps are in fact, the world’s first carbon-neutral carrots. Who would have thought it? 

Freshgro have thrown themselves into all things sustainability, including investing in their own green energy via wind turbines and solar panels. They’ve also made their transport more efficient, and have been developing regenerative soils and conserving, reducing and recycling water.

Their goal with their carrots is to “deliver the best possible outcome for the environment” – they’ve worked alongside Carbon Neutral Britain to achieve this.

Compared to 50g released by a typical carrot-growing process, a kilogram of Freshgro’s Chantenays releases just 0.03 grams of CO2e: 77% of that comes from fuelling farm machinery, 16% from fertilisers and crop protection, and 7% from crop residues.

With such low emissions, it’s actually possible to offset them – Freshgro supports offsetting projects including wind farms in the Philippines and hydro power projects in Chile. From tiny carrot seeds, the impact – or lack thereof – is truly impressive.

Innovating from the ground up

Going carbon neutral is just the tip of the, erm, carrot for Freshgro’s farming innovations. On a recent visit, we were shown their new high-tech grading machinery. It can automatically find any imperfections in carrots according to retailers’ guidelines. In short, it’s seriously clever.

It’s a very snappy process – as carrots are flung into the machine past the camera, the grader takes hundreds of high-quality photos per second. The grader can then be programmed to look for defects in shape, size and even colour – anything which retailers could class as “too odd”. It then separates the less-than-perfect carrots out from those which meet supermarket specifications.

One of the main benefits is that Freshgro can find out as early as possible how many carrots they’re likely to be left with – meaning they can quickly look for alternative buyers and reduce the amount of food waste left on the farm. Could this be an end to last-minute rejections? Here’s hoping.

No carrot un-crunched

 We love meeting all our growers, but it’s especially exciting seeing new farming practices come onto the scene. We’ve rescued a whopping 306,400 kg of carbon-neutral Chantenay carrots since November 2023, and we’ll be ready and waiting to take any more in need of a home.

Chantenays are perfect for snacking straight up, but if you need cooking inspiration just head to our recipes page. Whatever you do, though, don’t leave any of them un-crunched – they’re seriously special, that’s for sure.

Follow the journey from picked to packed.

Follow the journey from picked to packed.