A CO-OPERATIVE COMMUNITY
Building the new world in the shell of the old.
Hempen began as an idea – to form a resilient rural community centred around the cultivation of hemp. We’d heard that this miracle plant could do so much, clothe us, house us, fuel us, feed us and heal us. So we wanted to practically work with hemp in a holistic, ethical and regenerative way.
Our mission is to co-operatively cultivate hemp solutions to enhance the health of the people, our communities and the land.
In 2015 Hempen was established as a not-for-profit worker’s co-operative. The first seeds of hemp were sown in a 30 acre field and the first tender sprouts of community started to show.
The story of a hemp crop of hope travelled far and wide and brought people with the same dreams together. Some of those first arrivals are still here today. Many more continue to visit.
Since 2015 we’ve been located on the organic farmland of the Hardwick Estate, nestled in the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. Hempen is part farm, part home, part educational space, part wellbeing centre, this space continues to evolve.
The demand for locally grown organic hemp was so high that in 2016 we started collaborating with other organic farmers across the British Isles. Together, as small-scale craft farmers, we grow and develop crops outdoors in the open fields, in the living soil, underneath the bright sun, where it should be. We are the opposite of the Goliath like energy-intensive, chemical profiteering indoor grow pharmaceutical companies.
Harvesting is a very busy time, as all the mighty little hemp seeds and stalks make their way into our large wooden barn for processing. This means cleaning, drying, pressing and storing as they wait to be transformed into healthy foods and cosmetics.
As the first and leading UK grown and certified organic hemp farm, we take pride in pioneering new solutions. Hemp should be cultivated by your local organic farmer, this should be the vision for the British Isles. Hempen exists to make a case for ecological and ethical hemp. We see ourselves as part of a worldwide movement to recognise hemp as an important plant that belongs to the people.
Down on the farm and inside our lab, we have the pure joy of transforming the hemp plant into premium hemp and CBD products; for health & well-being, culinary and cosmetic use. By growing and producing our own products wherever possible, we can bring to you the highest quality hemp goods. We often can’t wait to taste fresh batches ourselves!
There was hope to harness the enormous potential of the hemp plant. In 2014, Hempen’s founders spoke to a friendly farmer on the organic Hardwick Estate, of the agronomic benefits of this miraculous plant. An agreement was made to sow an experimental crop of hemp.
The following year, 27 acres were sown, and a bumper crop was grown. A group of friends gathered around their shared passion for this plant, and Hempen was formed.
The co-operative was officially established in 2015 for the equitable, sustainable and ethical production of hemp products.
In Hempen’s first three years of cultivation, a committed team of volunteers helped harvest the hemp by hand. We will forever appreciate the efforts of those who volunteer their time, as well as their vital role in spreading the word of Hempen.
There was a lot of excitement in producing our first products, we carefully selected which ones to start with. Hemp provides an incredible nutrient profile when harvested for its seeds. These abundant speckled print nutty delights are packed with essential amino acids, including omega oils 3, 6 & 9, making them also a full source of protein. Yeah. So we got right to it, collecting the seeds in to create our first items Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Whole Hemp Seeds, Organic Hemp Flour and Organic Hemp Protein Powder.
As we worked more with the hemp plant, our relationship with it depended. It was not long until we discovered the myriad of benefits from creating cannabinoid extracts, especially high concentrations of Cannabidiol (CBD). So we began to harvest for this too. In 2018, medicinal cannabis was legalised for limited use via private healthcare services, under extremely strict conditions. This led to a CBD boom and our Organic CBD Oil became our most popular product.
Unfortunately, the Home Office then changed the legislative guidelines, making it explicit that hemp could not be harvested for CBD in the UK without a rare medical cultivation licence. Despite this set back, Hempen continued to cultivate and produce organic hemp seed and straw products, carefully navigating the new guidelines. However, our licence was revoked in 2019 for having harvested CBD in the past. Shocker.
This meant that we had to reach out to other organic farms to partner with. As it turns out, building a network of organic hemp farmers is actually awesome, sharing our combined cultivation knowledge. We offer a Consultancy Service for hemp agronomy, so in some ways we were already set up for this to happen.
We’ve been forced to source CBD rich extracts from Europe ever since, and again we connect with farmers and producers oversees, learning from them too. If you’d like to know more on how hemp is changing, read about the Grow Hemp Campaign.
Adapt, this one of our favourite words, each challenge makes us stronger. We are working with an innovative crop in a perishing world, and so we navigate our way through the rocky waters to new land in sight.
Like a glorious tree, our volunteer family grows larger each year! The story of a hemp farm has travelled to where many have visited Hempen. This place has very much been built bit by bit, for the love of the hemp plant and community spirit.
We are grateful to all the wonderful people who have exchanged their time, skills and ideas. From contributing to the harvest, constructing the polytunnel, planting seedlings in the garden, cooking lunch and so much more. Together we are a community, sharing the good word of the hemp plant as we go. By allowing everyone to access information about hemps benefits and production, collectively we can prove what this one plant can really achieve. Join the cause for hemp.
Check our volunteering page for more information.
THE HEMPEN CREW
This organigram was created in 2021 to visually represent our team and how we holistically work together.
Hempen has grown from a group of friends coming together for a cause, into a thriving community enterprise.
Check our Jobs and Opportunities to see if there is a role that suits you!
Hempen hosts and collaborates with Growing Solidarity as part of our community outreach work. Together we have partnered with Reading Refugee Support Group and Reading City of Sanctuary, to provide weekly sessions on the farm and in local neighbourhoods. We exchange skills, share knowledge, combat social isolation, and build resilience, with nature providing the foundations, tools and backdrop.
Hempen Co-operative cultivates hemp solutions for the health of people, community and the planet. Since our hemp licence was revoked in 2019, Growing Solidarity has spread its roots in our fields. When gaps in the land appear, weeds can often grow and flourish.
Discover Growing Solidarity here. Find out how you can support this project, donate or just get in touch.
GROW HEMP CAMPAIGN
The hemp licensing regime is not fit for purpose and is stifling the green economy, British farming and public health.
Unbelievably, hemp is considered an illegal crop to grow in this country and so in order not to be prosecuted hemp growers have to apply for a licence to cultivate via the Drugs and Firearms Unit at the Home Office.
We believe everyone should have access to organic hemp to open up its many benefits to us and the land, so how do we get there?
Support the campaign to grow hemp! our movement for change. Let’s change the politics surrounding the hemp plant. Hemp for all!
As a not-for-profit worker’s co-operative, we make decisions together based on principles and values rather than profit. We keep in mind the principles of a co-operative, and also our own six core values. Small-scale, ecological holistic producer businesses are different to the large producers and corporate agribusinesses due to the values that we uphold, which influencers the way in which we make decisions.
We value co-operation. It not only leads to a greater fusion of our skills, talents and resources, but also brings us unexpected opportunities and benefits. We welcome volunteers to get involved. We’re looking to develop the potential hemp-based economy with people and structures who share our values and goals.
We value compassion, and endeavour to treat all life with empathetic consideration – especially in the face of challenge. We believe in the power of hemp to provide a better world for everyone. All the money we make goes back into the co-operative. This is to support our vision of a fair economy, to pay fair wages and support other ethical projects.
We believe creativity is essential for finding simple solutions to complicated problems. We aim to cultivate a culture of innovation. Hemp has a rich and diverse history, with a wide range of environmental and health benefits. We’re constantly working on new ways to bring these benefits to more people.
We believe in radical honesty, and value authenticity in all our relations and work. We’re dedicated to organics, innovation, and providing the highest quality hemp products. We endeavour to be open to new ideas, or ways of working and being.
We value taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions, as well as our community and our planet. We’re starting small, though our aim is to support the global mission to cultivate and use regenerative hemp products, that can benefit the people, our communities and the land. Always in harmony with nature.
We believe that our operations and practices should be regenerative to all life. We wish to nourish and strengthen our soil, our air, our ecosystem, our farmers, our communities, our customer’s bodies and our workers. We want to build a regenerative economy in the shell of extractive capitalism.
Our vision is for a healthier world.
A world where hemp grows freely, where everyone has access to its many benefits, and where its power is fully harnessed to solve many of the world’s problems.
Freedom for hemp is symptomatic of a wider societal freedom.
Reviving the ancient wisdom of hemp is our catalyst for change.
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