By Ruth Fahrbach, Taos HempLLC
Hemp, or Cannabis sativa, covers a lot of ground in the literal sense. It is the plant genius that will grow nearly anywhere with little water and no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. No way does this plant equate with being “high.” It is an economic wonder and an agrarian salvation. As the planet becomes more arid from climate change and farmlands are planted with mono-crops year after year depleting the soil and whole ecosystems, it is imperative to understand hemp’s revitalizing role.
Hemp yields food, clothing, shelter, medicine and fuel. Hemp gives us our basic needs. Hempseeds, aka “hemp hearts,” are high in omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids; the EFA’s our bodies do not produce on their own. The brain thrives on this oil along with the rest of the body. Hemp hearts have a perfectly crafted 3:1 Super Omega-3 Stearidonic Acid (SDA) and Super Omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). Hempseed can be hulled from its shell and used in many ways: sprinkle on smoothies, cereals, salads, or just eating a handful and tasting the nutty flavor. Birds too, love hemp! It’s the highest protein in the plant kingdom after the soybean. There are no recognized allergens or gluten in hemp. With the Omega-3 EFA and high Vitamin E content, hemp oil is perfect for body care products. For more info go to www.hempoilcan.com, www.nutiva.com, www.livingharvest.com, www.manitobaharvest.com, www.thehempest.com.
Hemp grows tall and lanky, up to 15 ft. high, dependent on the seed cultivar. Choosing the correct cultivar recognizes altitude, and humidity. It takes four to five months to grow hempseed and its oil. Hemp’s taproot sinks deep, to eight feet and aerates the soil. Textile production is another use for the plant and pure hemp textiles made from the long strand fiber of the stalk is the strongest fiber on the planet. China is the leading producer of hemp textiles. China’s hemp textile goal: 1.3 million hectares of farmland, equivalent to 10 million tons of hemp plants and thus 2 million tons of hemp fiber for textiles. One hectare is equal to 2.47 acres of land. Romania, Hungary, Laos, and Canada are some of the secondary hemp textile manufacturers. For details, visit: www.hemptraders.com, www.taoshemp.com, www.envirotextiles.com, www.santafehemp.com.
From the hempstalk’s core comes the “hurd.” When pulverized with the “shiv”, the smaller fiber pieces hackled from the stalk-fiber, it can then be compressed into fiberboard, building blocks (similar to adobes), plastic automobile parts, insulation, hempcrete (a hemp mix with lime). Building with hemp is carbon neutral to carbon negative for industrial use, non-toxic and stronger than wood. These attributes make hemp a no brainer for contemporary building. The film “Bringing It Home” shows how hemp is a toxic building syndrome cure for the building industry.
Through a process called gasification, fuel can be made from hemp. Hemp has a high lignin content and thus is superb for bio-fuel and plastic production. Phyto-remediation with hemp cleans up benzenes, toluenes, xylenes and sulfolines so cleanly that the plant retains its industrial useage for building materials, paper, and fuel after its use in environmental detox. It shows great promise as a phyto-remediation healer for toxic land chemical waste. See: www.hempcleans.com, www.cannavest.com, www.sensei.com.
In February 2014, President Obama signed the US Farm Bill, approving all states who have passed legislation for industrial hemp, to proceed with pilot studies and research. A first step is establishing the appropriate seed cultivars for each state. Twenty three states have passed state bills. Colorado and Kentucky planted their fields in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Read more at www.votehemp.com, www.hemphistoryweek.com, and www.thehia.org.
A half billion dollar industry in the US currently imports hemp materials: Canada for seed, Chine for textile, and the European Union for building materials, production of hemp could be major economic development for farmers in arid lands agriculture. The American farmer can net $300 to $800/acre depending on the final usage of his hemp crop. Hemp is a “multi-tasker” that is bringing our economy back and providing work for farmers. Support hemp legislation in New Mexico and vote online at www.votehemp.com.