A growing demand for hemp products
Dave and Anne Jordan from Hamilton are passionate about fostering the infrastructure and necessary understandings which will see the cultivation of Hemp and its processing into an extensive range of bi-products realised here in New Zealand.
Their business, Hemp Farm NZ was formally established in 2011 though Dave first became aware of Hemp, which has been grown and used overseas for thousands of years, more than 30 years ago.
“It is an amazing plant in terms of the abundance of ways it can be processed, following cultivation, into not only health-related products but also into materials that are extremely environmentally sustainable,” Dave says.
“Hemp doesn’t require use of chemicals to assist its growth or deter pests but what is more astounding and little understood is that derivatives of hemp can be manufactured to provide food, clothing, shelter, fuel, paper, textiles and plastics, without the need to use other products as is the case with the production of plastic requiring oil for instance,” he says.
“Finally there is a real sense that, with changes in legislation just around the corner, the commercial growing and production of hemp-based products can attain a volume to make it commercially viable, creating massive opportunities for new employment as well.”
Since 2008, the industrious couple has established My Hemp Farm, a rewards-based shopping experience (through Hemp Farm New Zealand Limited), an online store that sells a range of health products for internal and external uses.
Included in the range of online products are Ham and Beeswax polish, hemp seed oil, protein powders, oil capsules, animal hemp protein, and skin-care products including oils, cleaners, and creams.
In the early days, the couple devoted their weekends to attending farmers-type markets though in recent years they have shifted their energy away from this rewarding, yet time-consuming activity, to concentrate on their shop and developing the Hemp industry here.
They have leased land and grown Hemp plants now for nearly a decade while growing their store of seed stocks and investing in the development of processing machinery.
The tall ‘dual variety’ of hemp produced here is not difficult to grow, however, when it comes to cultivating the meters-high plant, a number of issues arise, as Dave explains.
“Traditionally the only way to process the plant fiber is called retting where the plant lies in the paddock for months to allow micro-organisms and moisture to break it down to the point where it can be handled and processed.
“This creates additional costs for the farmer growing the plant because they are not making maximum use of their land. It’s sitting idle for long periods,” Dave says.
Hemp plants produce three distinct products; Hurd, Fibre and Seed and each of these has numerous uses. Dave describes Hemp as ‘Humanities Companion Plant’.
The couple now own a revolutionary machine, called a Decorticator, developed by Australian engineer and mastermind Adrian Clarke after almost 20 years of research and investment in prototypes.
Just why this machine has the capacity to revolutionise Hemp production is through its portability and ease of use, as it separates the hurd and cellulose from freshly grown Hemp plants making it state of the art.
Before, the only way to separate fibre and cellulose was in a large Hammer Mill, a multi-million dollar plant which essentially pounded the Hemp stalks.”
The significance of this technology cannot be understated. The Clarke D8 Decorticator will make growing and processing Hemp economically viable and an activity land-owners can consider seriously.
While Anne concentrates on keeping up with demand for the Hemp-based products sold through the ‘My Hemp Farm’ online shop and supplying it directly to over 200 stockists throughout New Zealand, Dave’s role is more in the future.
“My time is around creating infrastructure and a plan for investors. There are serious investors who want to be part of this pioneering industry.
“They not only see financial return but also are driven by a wish to create an industry that is such a positive one for the planet and its people.”