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Use hemp in your own garden!

Use hemp in your own garden

Here at the farm, we are BIG fans of compost! And we are always looking for ways to sneak hemp into lives in any way. Here’s how you could use hemp in your own garden too!

For compost, we save all our food scraps and tip them into our garden compost heap. There are lots of ways to bring compost into your life, even if you’re not feeding an army of vegetable fiends twice a day…

Good compost is made from a mix of ingredients – the wider the diversity, the better the compost. You can’t just put veg scraps in a place and expect compost. This makes the ‘not good’ bacteria and not the ‘good’ bacteria.

For a compost pile to work its magic, it needs a balance of carbon-rich ingredients and nitrogen-rich ingredients. Carbon-rich material is normally old and woody whereas nitrogen-rich material comes from fresh, new growth and softer plant matter. 

As plants develop, the nitrogen from the new growth travels down the plant into the roots. That’s why it’s good to leave the roots in the ground! This way, the nitrogen returns to the soil and the soil food web is undisturbed.

We add carbon into our mix by using… Hemp! 

Hemp straw bales are perfect, and we also use it as mulch on top of the beds, as this adds organic matter to the soil. Instead of using normal straw on your beds, use hemp straw. Hemp contains more nutrients which will be transferred to your soil!

Another way you could use hemp in your own garden, is to make hemp bales as planters! Would you believe! You can dig a whole out of the centre and plant your seedlings in there, the straw holds the moisture, creates an easy raised bed. And again, adds those nutrients to your soil.

We all would like to be able to grow hemp in our backyard with ease and freedom, but we are not there yet. So for now we can support in other ways. We can buy hemp and use in our gardens in more creative ways. Use hemp in your own garden to support the hemp revolution!

Use hemp in your own garden

Last year, Tom and Alfie had the wonderful idea of building an outdoor shower using a hot compost technique to heat the water. Hardwick Estate is a working woodland, so there’s a lot of wood chips going to waste from the tree surgeons around the farm.

We created an account with Arbtalk, and now we get deliveries of fresh wood chip once a month or so! We pile this on top of the piping, and it heats the water to a whopping 50 degrees. With the smell of pine in the morning and a fresh breeze to dry off, the shower is a real composty treat!

There are two main methods of composting. Here’s how to compost in your garden:

1. Short term

Also known as the “Berkeley method” or the “18-day compost”

Normally the compost pile will need more than 18 days as this is accurate if all the material is perfectly chopped up and prepared. That’s not really our composting vibe! The pile needs to reach 55/60 degrees in order to kill off any pathogens (such as powdery mildew), and to properly decompose any weed seeds or roots (like nettles or rhizomes) to avoid spreading them around your garden. 

We don’t always get around to turning our piles quite as often as is necessary for this method, so our compost can take a little longer to finish brewing! Some people are very accurate in getting the right balance of fresh green nitrogen rich materials to old dry woody carbon materials. We’re learning as we go along to get the balance right.

2. Long term

With this method, there’s a lot less to worry about. Moisture isn’t as big a deal because the pile is out in the open. The balance is more forgiving but you still need to make sure there’s lots of carbon in the mix. 

This 6-12 month cold composting technique will not destroy the pathogens, weed seeds or roots. The heat comes from the activity of thermophilic bacteria which will happily do its composting thing as long as they have the right environment. 

How to make your own hot compost:

Make a pile of about 1 cubic meter. We use 1 tonne bags but you can use a wooden bay or pig wire. The balance of carbon to nitrogen needs to be just right. In total, it should be 25-30:1 of carbon:nitrogen. 

Old, woody materials have a higher carbon concentration. For example, wood chips and cardboard are around 350-400:1 and will take a long time to decompose on their own.

That’s why wood chips are perfect for the compost shower!

Grass cuttings are around 20:1, cow manure is 16:1 and urine is 1:1 which is why it’s good to wee on your compost! 

For the pile to work, it needs to have plenty of air flow to stay aerobic. To do this, you need to turn the pile regularly. For the 18 day compost method, you should leave it for 4 days then turn every other day until it’s ready.

How do you know when it’s ready?

When you have worms!

These little fellas are a great indicator that the pile has cooled down enough as they don’t like the high temperatures. The mixture should also be dark brown in colour and smell like a woodland floor. 

Be careful if you’re using ingredients that are lumpy or sloppy (like cow manure) as this will inhibit the airflow in your pile.

You want to have all the ingredients chopped up small – but not too small! If you’re getting closer to sawdust size, it can also become sloppy and make your pile anaerobic. 

Once the material is nicely broken down and soft, the compost goes back onto our veggie patches in the polytunnel to help the new vegetables grow. What a satisfying cycle!

Composting is an amazing way to use food and garden waste, as well as feeding the soil food web and the microbial life. In healthy soils, more water is retained and the microbiome is more diverse. This reduces desertification and keeps the soil where it should be – on the ground!

Do you have any hot composting tips?

We hope you will use hemp in your own garden too! Let us know!

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Another year, another hemp licence

Hemp Licencing

As many of you may remember, in July 2019 the licence here at Path Hill Farm to grow hemp was revoked by the Home Office. This led to the destruction of a crop worth £200k. We were faced with a decision: to grow or not to grow?

Since then, we have continued partnering with farmers across the UK. We did this to support hemp growers nationwide and strengthen UK grown hemp production. In this position, we have had to consider what would be the most effective solution to the issues we were facing.

As of last week, we have officially submitted our new application to grow hemp in our fields! It’s a very exciting moment in Hempen’s journey. Though we are not celebrating just yet…

Why apply now?

Applications for licences are accepted from the beginning of January, until the end of February. An answer, does not have to be returned by the Home Office until the end of April. This poses a significant problem to farmers planning their rotations for the year. 

In times of crisis, it is understandable to feel fear, judgement and anger. When faced with the most serious challenge to our business since we began, we are choosing to focus on solutions. We are worked to fulfil our mission to provide hemp solutions for the health of people, community and planet with determination!

Although our capacity to bring hemp products to our customers was threatened by the licence reversal, we believe in the power of community and collaboration to build resilience. Our belief may have been tested, but the results were clear. We’re so much better when we work together.

What’s been happening since the licence was revoked?

We connected with farmers across the UK who had an interest in growing hemp, supported them with their own licence applications and shared our industry knowledge and farming expertise to help them produce the best environmental impact and yields possible for their land and resources.

Our commitment to buy hemp seed and stalk harvests from them provided the stability of a return on investment, and we intend to develop new and existing partnerships regardless of the outcome of our current application.

More hemp was grown in the UK in the past year because we supported other farmers to grow it. That means more carbon was removed from the atmosphere, more nutrients returned to the soil and more ecological alternatives to outdated products were available for the health of our consumers. 

How have the processes at Hempen been affected?

To comply with UK law, we have been importing CBD from Europe. This is despite the significant financial and environmental costs involved. When compared to harvesting from the UK, if that were possible. 

We have diversified our seed and fibre product range, and continue to do so. We are here to provide our incredible support network of volunteers and customers continued access to UK-grown organic hemp products. And continue to do this at a fair price.

With more seed and fibre products, we are less reliant on CBD. But to do this requires further investment. We are seeking additional finance to bring more of our processing in-house. This will to reduce our carbon footprint and create a production loop that is as local as possible.

Many hurdles remain for the UK and European hemp industry. All around the world, legislators are waking up to the potential of this booming industry. Hemp offers solutions to so many problems including the ecological crisis, job scarcity, food sovereignty and soil health. 

We are hopeful that our application to grow this most wonderful of plants will be accepted in time for us to plant this year’s crop. Our community continues to grow with more producers and industry partners each year. Show us your support for us by telling us why you think we deserve to be able to grow hemp here on the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

When life gives us lemons, we make lemonade…

When life gives us hemp, we make Hempen!

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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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Always forward

Standing knee deep in a sea of slender serrated leaves,

the occasional poppy head or daisy gently tapping at the swaying hemp stems, it was difficult to process the news that the Home Office had decided to revoke the licence for us to grow hemp for our home farm in Oxfordshire. After legal advice and with heavy hearts, we’ve been forced to destroy our crop. 

This decision has far-reaching impact on our co-operative and all its operations, on us as a community and on all of our customers and volunteers who help to keep our co-operative alive. Hempen is a beautiful hive of activity and hope. It is a place where we keep in focus the difficult world that we live in, but also where we are dedicated to farming a plant with so much hope to offer in these troubled times. Farming hemp is good for us and for the land we live on. This news only strengthens our resolve to reverse this decision, and raise awareness about the incredible and diverse ways that the hemp plant can help us, our community and our planet. As one of our co-op members Ben said today, “these hemp plants will die, but we hope that the injustice of this nonsensical ruling will enable more hemp plants to grow in the future.” 

Hemp in the morning sun

Hempen is now seeking legal advice on how to respond to the licence denial. We hope to appeal the decision as well as continue to work on a wider campaign to support British farmers to grow industrial hemp and save UK CBD production. 

The news is a shock to us all, but even before the dust has settled, all of us at Hempen have doubled down on our efforts to protect our home and our mission. Our co-operative exists thanks to the generous support of all our customers and volunteers. In these difficult times, this has never been more the case. It has been so heart warming to see the love and concern you’ve been sending our way with so many offers of help. There are many ways you can continue to support us in our work and mission:

Though our crop is destroyed, our products aren’t. For now, you can still buy our full range of products through the website, at our regular farmers markets and stockists. We are also planning new products going forwards, including certified organic CBD, and will update you soon. This keeps a steady income flow to help move us forwards, and fund our campaign costs. If you know of people able to offer legal support, help with funding our legal fees or friendly journalists and politicians then we’d really like to hear from you, on info@hempen.co.uk

Lastly, if you haven’t already, please sign this petition aiming to change the hemp licensing hypocrisy:

https://www.change.org/p/department-of-food-and-agriculture-change-the-hemp-license-hypocrisy

Always forwards.

With love and gratitude, Hempen

Tractor ploughing 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.