Regional Reports

Hemcore / Bioregional Projects

        Established in 1993, Hemcore continues to be the only primary processor of hemp in the UK. In 1998, 2400 hectares of hemp were cultivated, with a similar area planned for 1999. John Hobson, Director of Hemcore's new factory, which was established last year, is pleased that "the sale of hemp hurds for horse bedding continues to go extremely well in the UK and abroad". Commercial outlets for the fiber include a hemp "fleece" insulation material which is an alternative to mineral wool, and a hemp with polypropylene mix for automotive door panels manufactured in Germany, the hemp being a cost-effective replacement for a portion of the synthetic fibers. Pilot trials are also being carried out using hemp as an alternative to glass fiber in re-enforced composites, where again, hemp fiber scores highly on price, performance and environmental criteria. With development work needed to see hemp reach it's mainstream potential, Hobson notes that "it's vital that the EC hemp crop subsidy continues for this infant industry while we develop these new markets".
        Specialty papers, such as cigarette paper, continue to be an outlet for hemp fiber in the UK. However, with only a handful of mills in Europe that can handle the raw material, greater pulping capacity for a wider range of paper grades is required if markets for hemp pulp are to expand. For example, there is a huge potential market for hemp pulp as an 'additive', especially to recycled grades, to reduce the weight of paper whilst retaining essential properties such as strength. A company, BioRegional MiniMills Ltd., has been established in the UK to build a small mill to pulp hemp, flax and wheat straw. Six paper companies, BioRegional Development Group and the World Wide Fund for nature International are shareholders. Technical and economic feasibility work is ongoing with the support of the UK government. A share issue to build the first MiniMill is anticipated in January.
        Several companies in the UK are producing hemp garments and food items using imported hemp fabric and seed. The BioRegional Development Group is keen to establish hemp textile production in the UK, and through their 1995-96 and 1998 trials, showed that hemp textiles can be produced using a modified flax harvest and processing route. However, this method can only produce fabric at a similar cost to linen. If hemp apparel textiles are to compete technically and financially in the mainstream, then new or improved technology for harvesting and primary processing of hemp is needed.

        Sue Riddlestone
        BioRegional Development Group
        E-mail: sue riddlestone@bioregional.com


        MotherHemp Ltd. has grown rapidly this year with increased cultivation, formation of a number of new divisions and numerous product launches. They have recently partnered with Dr. J. C. Callaway for the experimental cultivation and breeding of the 'FIN-314' variety in Europe. This year, they are growing 15 acres of 'FIN-314' on the south coast of England in order to multiply their seed supply for future years. This will not be commercially available until EC certification is received. It is hoped that the early maturation of 'FIN-314' will help combat the short summers that the UK crops suffer.
        MotherHemp has a large capacity oil-pressing facility and although currently pressing imported seed, they plan to press UK grown seed by the end of this season. In addition to 'FIN-314', they are growing over 50 acres of French varieties, from which they hope to yield both seed and fiber although hemp seed production has never been achieved in the UK on a large scale, MotherHemp is located in the most sunny location of the country and therefore hopes that maturation will be good. MotherHemp Ltd. wholesales bottled and encapsulated hemp oil along with its own full cosmetics range
        MotherHemp has three new divisions: MH4 Fabrics, MH4 Manufacturing and Bob's Hemporium. MH4 Fabrics has selected the highest quality best-priced textiles from around the world and has large supplies in stock within the UK. They are principally targeting the interior decorating and home furnishing market. MH4 Manufacturing uses the same fabrics but imports them directly into Nepal where it has set up a manufacturing unit under Fair Trade conditions for large-scale manufacturing of hemp clothes and accessories. MH4 Manufacturing is currently speaking to a number of large retail chains with a view to infiltrating hemp clothing into the mainstream market place.
        Bob's Hemporium is a mail-order catalogue and on-line shopping site (http://www.hemporium.com) which provides a full spectrum of hemp goods and paraphernalia. This retail division of MotherHemp has been set up to enable the British public to find anything and everything they might need - but made from hemp. Fast delivery times, high quality products and leading edge ordering technology are the main focus points.

        Will Stephens
        E-mail: will@motherhemp.com

New Plastic is a High-Flyer

        The UK-based Hemp Food Industries Association (HFIA) has introduced an alternative to petrochemical-based plastics. 'High-Fly' hemp-based plastic is currently made with 25% hemp fiber and 75% recycled materials. Successful marketing of this first product is expected to finance further research and development of a 100% hemp version. Planned for sale throughout the world, a High-Fly throwing disk has also been available via the Internet since May, 1999 at "www.hemp.co.uk". Other projects run by the successful High-Fly team include hemp reinforced car panels, hemp insulation, hemp food products, and a hemp cookbook. They have also been growing hemp throughout the UK and Europe, and are consultants to US, Canadian, Australian and UK governmental organizations with regards to the growing, processing and manufacture of products from the hemp.

        Paul Benhaim
        Hemp Food Industries Association

Hemp Food Industries Association UK tour

        The UK-based Hemp Food Industries Association (HFIA) was involved with a number of projects during 1998 that included promotions of organic hemp food products, educational seminars, organic hemp farming, processing and manufacture of hemp products as well as the general promotion of natural, organic and GM-free hemp foods.
        The main project of last year was the dissemination of this information. The method chosen, an adaptation of a traditional ice cream van! However, no ordinary ice-creams, lollies or soft-drinks were provided, but instead a selection of the finest hemp food products available. Various flavors of a dairy free, ice-cream alternative can be enjoyed wherever the van may roam, without risking the health dangers dairy products may bring. Hemp Snack Bars, 9bars, Hemp Flapjacks and POW!, as well as the latest in hemp-based caffeine-free soft drinks, are also available. Additional available food products include packs of whole and hulled hemp seed, a soon-to-be-released long-life sprouted bread using whole and hulled hemp seeds, organic toppings for the bread such as vegan pesto, olive spreads and sun-dried tomatoes, an organic cold-pressed hemp oil made via their "omega-flow process", and an organic hemp miso soup.
        The van is currently power assisted by the sun, using solar panels to power the lights, music, computers and phone on board. An aim of the HFIA is to become fully solar and wind powered shortly. This involves 1.5 tons of equipment, mainly batteries stored in a separate vehicle, which they claim would make it the largest mobile solar rig in the UK. They are always open to sponsorship ideas to make this project a reality, which would help promote alternative technologies as a viable option to exploitation of our planet's finite resources."
        The HFIA is a non-profit organization who invests in the practical industrial uses of hemp. The HFIA web site contains varied information about products, hemp facts, a gallery and some nifty graphics. It has received about 1000 enquiries per day on average over the last three years. You can visit it at http://www.hemp.co.uk or phone them in the UK at +44 7000 HEMP 4 U (+44 7000 436 748) or by mobile phone at +44 797 453 0329.

        Paul Benhaim
        Hemp Food Industries Association

New Dutch Hemp Labyrinth

        A special project will be held this summer on an organic farm called 'De Wenning', the construction of a 'hemp labyrinth' on a ca. 15 hectares. The goal of this project is to inform visitors about hemp, biological agriculture, nature and the environment, and also about durable consumer goods and other items connected with this. Along the paths of this labyrinth, approximately 15 information signs or stands will be placed in which companies can present their activities.
        ‘De Wenning' is located in the Orvelterveld and is about 50 hectares in size. Approximately 50 varieties of vegetables are grown, and are distributed by means of a subscription system. Also grown are herbs, asperges, grains, etc. In addition to this production, other activities take place such as a mini-camping facility and a coffee and tea company. Special excursion facilities and a visit to the brand new information center about biological agriculture are available. This farm is close to the historic village of Orvelte and in the neighbourhood of a beautiful surrounding walk. (The well known Pieterpad is across from the property).
        The labyrinth will be 1.5 hectares in area, with paths of over 2 meters width. From July until September/October it will be open 4 to 5 days per week. On specific days, a 'biological agriculture open house' will be held. Visitors can actively study the subject by filling in a questionnaire. The answers can be checked at the end of the labyrinth. Visitors will be offered a chance to take part in topics which have to do with product durability, biological agriculture, the environment, etc., while at the same time promoting related products/activities.
        In 1997, a hemp labyrinth was constructed on the Ebelsheerd farm in Groningen. That project seemed to be a great success and had 5000 visitors. If possible, this project will be maintained over several years. On the basis of the experiences of the Ebelsheerd project, it is expected that the hemp labyrinth will be a success. The touristic location and the reputation of 'De Wenning' will help. Anyone with an interest in this project is invited to add support by providing an information board/panel about their activities. These board/signs need to be well equipped and durable enough to resist weather influences. The presented information must also be understandable to young visitors. Presentation dimentions may vary, as the width of the labyrinth path is generous. It is possible to set up a 'do-it-yourself' stand, in which visitors can be actively engaged with the displayed product. The 'why and how' background of the activities/products will form the educational aspects of the information panels/stands.
        Anyone wanting to co-operate in the realization of the labyrinth or having any questions, can contact 'De Wenning' (Henk, Margriet, Inge) at 31-(0)591-382506 to discuss further details.