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The importance of organic farming

“Organically grown”, “farmed organically”, “made with organic ingredients”… these phrases crop up more and more in our everyday, from ads on the underground, to our conversations at the hairdressers.  Organic ingredients are present in a whole host of the things we use, from food to wellbeing, clothing to cleaning products.

Hempen Organic Hemp Seed Oil

But organic farming is nothing new, nor is its importance to the wellbeing of our bodies and the natural world. Though pesticides have been experimented with for 1000’s of years, it has only been since the 1940’s and 50’s when the “pesticide erareally took hold, that non-organic farming became the new norm.

Rising populations, lower yields and smaller labour requirements are used to justify mono-cultural large scale agriculture. Today, non-organic farming accounts for 99% of farming globally, but pesticides and fertilisers are detrimental to wildlife and their impacts go beyond the boundaries where they are used. Insect populations are vanishing, spelling catastrophic consequences for food chains, pollination, soil health and our health. Can organic agricultural methods produce enough food for a population set to hit 10 billion by 2050, avoid the obliteration of insects and trees and the pollution of land and water? In these times of climate change, environmental degradation and disintegration of community, organic farming offers a relatively untapped source of hope.

Insect on organic hemp leaf

A recent US study finds that while organic farms have lower yields, food produced is more nutritious, soil and water is less polluted, biodiversity of plants, animals and microbes is greater, greenhouse gas emissions are lower, and farming methods are more energy efficient. From a social perspective, organic farms also come out tops, being associated with more jobs, healthier work environments and happier workers in more connected communities. 

Hempen is a not-for-profit organic farm co-operative. At the core of our principles is a dedication to practices which promote the health of people and the environment. We make all of our products from certified organic hemp which makes us unique in the UK.

Besides the farm being organised in a way that promotes ecological biodiversity and the wellbeing of all of us who work here, the quality of what we produce is also maximised. As hemp is bioremedial, in areas of contaminated land, hemp’s quick and deep growing roots can clean soils by absorbing toxins into the plant itself. This means it is all the more important that we farm organically. Our soil’s health is integral to the quality and effectiveness of what we make. We’re proud to say that our CBD comes from clean and nourished soils which help to maximise the many health benefits that stem from using CBD.

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Feeding the community well, together

Reading Town Meal 2019

We’re excited to be at the beautiful, community-powered Reading Town Meal this Saturday 28th September.

We feel so lucky to be part of a vibrant web of local growers and producers. This event brings us all together to provide the fruit, veg and – in our case – delicious hemp goodies to feed the community. The locally-grown produce will be cooked up into delicious dishes by Reading College students, and served up for us all to enjoy – for free!

If you’re around this Saturday, come down and join the meal. Learn more about growing your own food from local allotment holders, shop with local producers – including us and our friends from Greenbroom Farm, a local fossil fuel-free organic veg growing co-op – find out what local community and sustainability groups are doing in Reading, and dance to music from local bands. Sounds like a dreamy Saturday afternoon to us…

If you’ve got the time, there will be lots of roles to get stuck in with, from leafleting, to washing up. Volunteers always welcome! Have a browse here to see what you can do, and let the organisers know if you can help out.

See you and our lovely local community there!

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£2.4 million in lost potential from hemp

Close up of destroying hemp crop

You may have seen our story on the BBC News website yesterday. Its headline shares a figure of our estimated financial loss, just from the retail sales we could have generated from the hemp seed alone, as hemp seed oil and hemp protein powder:

That is a large figure, especially for a small business. But, it pales in comparison to our calculations of the potential revenue we could have generated, were we allowed to harvest the flowers of the plant. The 40 acres lost to us this week could have been transformed into £2.4 million as CBD at retail price, for a not-for-profit farming co-operative. Of this, £480,000 would have been tax for the UK government! 

Instead, the flowers are crushed, along with the hopes of other farmers around the UK of being able to harness the full economic and agronomic benefits of hemp. We’re developing our campaign to save UK CBD, and will keep you updated, to let you know how you can support us in our mission to free hemp for all.

Destroying the hemp crop
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Home Office revokes hemp growing license from leading UK hemp and CBD grower

Sad news at Hempen today…we have had our license to grow hemp revoked. This is an unexpected piece of news, that has understandably sent ripples of shock and sadness throughout our lovely community. It also means that, to stay on the right side of the law (as we always want to do – our livelihoods are built on growing hemp and we rely on the support of the industry and officials), we have to destroy our beautiful hemp plants in the field. 

As you can imagine, this is very hard for us. And we know it will have an impact on many of you, too. We want to keep everyone up-to-date with goings on, and so are sharing with you our official press release. Please do share far and wide – we are hoping that the press will be moved by our story, and the impact this has on other UK hemp farmers and our ability to grow hemp and produce CBD in the UK. We are so grateful for all of your support. We will update you with another post very soon. For now, here’s the official news…

uk hemp farming not-for-profit has its license to grow hemp blocked, as the home office rules around industrial hemp threaten the uk hemp and CBD industry

Today not-for-profit Hempen have begun destroying their crop in Oxfordshire, as the Home Office belatedly denied their license to grow hemp in the UK. This decision has a far-reaching impact, not just on the not-for-profit’s operations, but also on the livelihoods of its workers. 

Home Office guidance in November 2018 had made clear that British Farmers would not be allowed to harvest the lucrative flowers for CBD oil and accordingly their licence applications were just to grow seed and stalk.

 Hempen is now seeking legal advice to appeal the decision, which has left the co-operative with no other option than to destroy the crop in the next 24 hours. Hempen has been clear in the statements submitted each year to the Home Office around how the plant was to be used. The Home Office raised no issues with the intended use of the plant over the course of the three-year license, and so to have the full license revoked mid season has come as an emotional and financial shock.

This highly punitive decision puts UK hemp farmers at a disadvantage, where the most valuable part of the crop, which is used to extract CBD globally (except in the UK) is rendered worthless.

Hempen co-founder Patrick Gillett said: “In challenging economic times for British farmers, hemp is offering green shoots of hope as a rare crop that can pay for itself without subsidy. Instead of capitalising on the booming CBD industry, the Home Office’s bureaucracy is leading British farmers to destroy their own crops and millions of pounds’ worth of CBD flowers are being left to rot in the fields.” He added: “The government should move the responsibility of regulating farmers over to DEFRA and legislate to stop our CBD spending being sent abroad and be used to secure the future of British farming.”

ENDS.

Notes to Editors:

– Website at www.hempen.co.uk

– This licensing decision significantly affects Hempen’s business, with an estimated financial loss of  £200k expected as a result of destroying the crop. The hemp lost had the additional potential to lock in 130 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

– Hempen Co-operative was founded as a not-for-profit in 2015, to harness the power of hemp to create rural sustainable livelihoods. The vision is to cultivate a new hemp-based economy, finding alternative ways of operating for the health of people, community and planet, utilising hemp as a sustainable alternative to thousands of common and environmentally damaging products.

– The Home Office had previously stated in writing that Hempen should continue to act as though the license had been granted, while the new license was pending. However, recent communications have contradicted this advice, leading to the need to destroy the crop. 

– Hempen will continue to work with the Home Office on the appeals process, in the hopes of having their license reinstated, and will continue to supply UK-grown organic hemp products from other organic British hemp farms. To continue to supply customers with certified organic, fully traceable CBD products, Hempen will now import CBD from partners in Europe.

– Hempen’s products include UK-grown organic hemp seed oil, hemp tea, moisturising oils and CBD products.

– Hemp is one of the world’s oldest crops, cultivated and used for 10,000 years, by ancient and modern cultures across the globe.  It is a miraculous plant with a multitude of uses, from cloth and rope to health care, nutritious food, building materials and bio-fuel. As hemp also cleans the soil and sequesters carbon from the air as it grows, it is a truly sustainable crop.

– For legal enquiries contact Industrial Hemp Licensing specialists David Hardstaff at BCL Solicitors: dharstaff@bcl.com

To discuss this press release, for print resolution photography or to schedule an interview, contact Ali Silk at media@hempen.co.uk.