A COUPLE who own a prospering farming business in Oxford have discovered an inventive way to give back to the environment.

Andrew and Mandy Myatt, who run the Oxford Farmhouse in Headington, started planting apple trees across the county in a bid to offset carbon emissions and improve air quality.

Their project Carbon Offset Trees, which launched in February, will see hundreds of trees planted that will not only reduce the carbon footprint but also provide apples for pressing into craft cider and juice.

In May last year Mr and Mrs Myatt expanded their home-based enterprise at Oxford Farmhouse after successfully crowdfunding more than £8,000 for an industrial press, bottling machine and a larger facility for pasteurising, storage and packaging.

Only a few months later the two released the first batch of craft cider and apple juice using unwanted apples from the gardens of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire - fruit that would usually go to waste.

Their apple juice even won a Great Taste Award in its first year.

With their new carbon offset programme the couple is encouraging people to make a donation according to their carbon usage for flights, other travel, household or business.

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The couple pointed out that the average person in the UK uses 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in their daily living.

The donated money will be used to plant more local and sustainable orchards of apple trees.

The founders said: "We try to reduce our carbon footprint by doing things such as using renewable energy, but that still leaves a lot of carbon used.

"Apple tree orchards are very effective at absorbing carbon, much of it going into the fruit."

Joined by volunteers the farmers planted their first carbon offset apple trees on the edge of Oxford in February.

According to research from Cornell University apple trees can absorb between 10-20 tonnes of carbon dioxide per acre every year and release 15 tonnes of oxygen.

Mr Myatt explained the process: "The apple trees will be two years old when planted, so should produce fruit within a couple of years and will begin sequestering carbon immediately.

"These trees will be more likely to survive than the one year ‘whips’ that are usually used.

"They will also be planted as an orchard, so that trees do not need to be thinned out as they grow."

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The farmer also pointed out that the trees will not only start absorbing carbon dioxide immediately, but they will also produce apples from an early stage.

In addition they will be pruned annually to increase the amount of carbon absorption.

The couple encouraged members of the public to join them during this year's tree planing season that starts in November.

Mr and Mrs Myatt added: "If you are interested in making some land available for planting, we would need to plant a minimum of 10 apple trees.

"The type of rootstock we use depends on the soil quality and drainage."

Last year the British government committed to a legally binding target of net zero emissions to end its contribution to global warming.

The target will require the Government to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80 per cent reduction from 1990 levels.

Oxfordshire residents who have land available and are interested in joining the environmental project can learn more at www.carbonoffsettrees.co.uk