Our intention at Hempen has always been to grow organic hemp locally, and to create high-quality organic hemp products for the UK market.
Growing hemp in the UK means that all the positive environmental impacts the Cannabis sativa plant provides us – such as enhancing soil health by reducing the need for herbicides and bringing diversity to crop rotations, and carbon sequestration – are happening close to where we all live. It also means that the UK has greater material and food sovereignty, given how versatile hemp is, making us less reliant on imports with high freight miles. It also means that we at Hempen have full transparency over our supply chain, and can track the production of our hemp products right through from seed to shelf. Hence, when the government made it clear that they did not want UK grown CBD products on the market we wanted to find a supplier as close to home as possible.
Proximity wasn’t the only factor when choosing our CBD source, though. We believe that hemp grown for food or well-being consumption should always be organically certified. Because hemp has the ability to draw toxic chemicals from the soil and store them in the plant material, growing on soil that may have been exposed to chemicals and pesticides increases the chances of toxic residue in the end product. Organic certification is the only way to know the integrity and safety of the hemp product from seed to shelf.
Ideally, we would have liked to have found a supplier who also subscribes to the not-for-profit, co-operative principles that underpin Hempen’s value system. We believe in community-led business that is driven by strong values rather than the bottom line. This means that we try to create a healthy way of life for our workers (us!), sharing wages equally and collectively making decisions that we believe are for the benefit of people, community and planet.
Unfortunately, at this time, other organically certified, not-for-profit hemp growers and producers are few and far between (although we have made contact with some new friends in Greece! Check them out here). Even fully organically certified CBD makers are a rare find! But after an extensive search we narrowed the field down to a handful of producers from Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
After a round of testing, tasting and discussions with the producers in terms of the traceability of their supply chain, we decided that the Swiss producers were creating the highest quality CBD oil we had tried. The farms that supply them grow their hemp organically using biodynamic and permaculture growing methods, which are often seen as “organic plus plus”. For us, this was hugely motivating factor, given that regenerative agriculture practices are crucial for the future health of our food system, planet and us. Additionally, they were able to offer the most flexibility in terms of tailoring products to our needs (such as mixing the CBD oil in high quality organic hemp seed oil) and tinkering with flavour profiles.