Why do we love hemp so much?
The hemp plant is one of the most nutritious and versatile plants on the planet. Allegedly it has 25,000 known uses – and we’re still discovering these! Have a look at our blog to find out more about some of these uses.
It can be used in food, medicine, clothes, cosmetics, cleaning products, building materials and biodegradable plastic. And as a clean energy source, making it a renewable replacement for countless current technologies.
Yes, it really is a miracle plant, that’s why we are passionate about the campaign to relegalise cultivation for industrial, non-psychoactive strain of the plant. Still today, hemp cultivation is largely restricted and often trapped in red tape.
Whilst there are lots of uses, and many happen to be the green alternatives we have been looking for. Growing fields of this plant ecologically gobbles carbon and replenishes the soil, killing weeds without resort to chemicals. It can even be used to detoxify poisoned land.
Our worker co-operative believes in the power of hemp-based alternatives to solve the challenges we are all facing, including health issues, ecological crisis and social instability.
Are hemp and cannabis the same thing?
Hemp is also known as industrial hemp, for alls its industrial uses. Even though our own cultivation of it is anything but industrial! Hemp is a strain of the plant Cannabis sativa. The important difference between hemp and cannabis is the variation of CBD and THC. They both contain the compounds CBD (the one which interacts with the cannabinoid receptors in your body) and THC (the more mind-altering one), but in varying proportions.
Hemp, which is legal to produce in the UK, must contain less than 0.01% of the THC compound, so you won’t feel any psychoactive (‘high’) effects. It is grown only under a licence granted by the Home Office. Cannabis plants containing more than 0.01% THC are currently illegal to produce or consume in the UK, and you won’t find any of those on our farm!
Hemp as a Food
The seeds are one of nature’s superfoods. Often referred to as the most nutritious seed on the planet! They are one of the best sources of complete plant-based protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids, without any of the phytic acid in soya. So all the lovely nutrients can be absorbed by the body. The oil from hemp seeds is higher than fish oils in omegas 3, 6 & 9, in the perfect balance for the human body. Also known as ‘the golden ratio’ of, omegas. The oil is also high in vitamin E, making it wonderful for cosmetics and skin care. So it’s also an anti-ageing treat! The oil is also non-comedogenic, so won’t clog your pores. Great for oily or spot-prone skin.
High in fibre, the seed shell is also a rare nutritional source of vitamin D for when the sun isn’t shining. The combination of protein and fat that is provided by the seed make it an excellent replacement for meat or dairy products. Great for cutting down on animal protein for more plant-based and ecologically-friendly diets.
Hemp is also a low impact crop, which doesn’t require pesticides. It actively heals the environment by regenerating the soil and capturing CO2 from the atmosphere. Amazing!
Hemp nurtures the soil rather than depletes it. Its deep roots break hard ground and bring nutrients to the surface, making it more fertile. As well as increasing the soil’s water retention, preventing desertification.
Hemp as a Material
Did you know the word “canvas” is derived from “cannabis”?
Hemp was an abundant crop, and used to create strong sails and ropes on our ships! “Hempen” is old English word meaning “made from hemp” so you can see why Hempen is the perfect name for us! There was a time when many things around us would have been made from hemp!
The fibres of hemp are up to 25 times stronger than cotton. They require 10% of the water and no fertiliser, herbicide or pesticides. These fibres can be used to make textiles, composite materials such as panelling for vehicles and a variety of other products.
The inside of the stem is made up of a carbon-rich material known as ‘shiv’ or ‘hurds’. This substance can be used to make paper or can be mixed with lime and/or clay to form hempcrete, a wonderful, breathable building insulation material, that can be used to make ecological housing.
Hemp for Building
Hemp plants are extremely vigorous and can capture more carbon-rich biomass during a growing season than any other plant in a temperate climate. The opportunity to lock this biomass into high quality construction material presents a viable strategy for decarbonising the atmosphere, and mitigating some aspects of climate change.
At times, after taking the more nutritious parts, we have harvested straw from our fields. With help and often in partnership with other groups, created housing from it. Here is a project that we provided consultancy for in order to cultivate to build this home. What’s great about this build is that the hemp is inside and out!
We’ve got more grand plans to build – watch this space!
These are just a few reasons why we believe hemp is one sustainable powerhouse of an answer to the global crises of our time.