Hemp fibre is stronger and more durable than cotton. Hemp produces as much as 4 times the paper pulp per acre compared to trees. Hemp stalk can be used for building purposes. The seed is recognised as the single most nutritious source of non-animal protein on Earth. No other single resource that can provide us with so many diverse products at such a small cost to the planet.
Hemporium is a South African hemp company dedicated to educating people about industrial hemp’s potential through the use of innovative products, while creating an awareness of all that hemp has to offer.
Their long term goal is to promote legislative change so that cultivation of industrial hemp in South Africa becomes a reality. They are certain that given the opportunity to grow this sustainable crop, the hemp industry could help provide solutions to many of the challenges that this country faces by way of sustainable housing, nutrition and job creation.
In this country there is this fear that if we grow the product people will get stoned on it. This is simply not true. As you may be aware THC is the active ingredient in cannabis that gets people “high.” Unlike marijuana, industrial hemp contains less than 1% THC. So people cannot get high off hemp.
Although it is not currently legal to grow this product that can fill so many needs in our country, last year the government granted permits for hemp to be grown in Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN. This is good news as hemp makes super insulation material and, as a fast grower, these locally grown fibres should soon be available.
Currently Hemporium has to import its hemp materials. They also support the local industry by bringing in the raw materials and producing their clothing, accessories, home ware,Â cosmetics and nutritional products in small factories around Cape Town.
Hemp’s potential goes way beyond the clothing products they are currently producing. The two Hemporium retail outlets showcase many of the other uses such as paper, building materials, carpets, fabric and even plastic.
We have personally enjoyed wearing hemp T-shirts which are super durable and cosy in the winter. It was also the original materials which jeans were made of and even the first cars were produced from this very strong fibre. But my personal dream is to one day build a hemp house.
And so it is just this that Tony Budden, the owner of Hemporium, and his business partner Duncan Parker did in Noordhoek, Cape Town. This project is seen as a continuation of their aim of showcasing all that hemp has to offer and urging legislatative change to enable hemp to provide jobs, houses and nutrition in South Africa. This means locally-grown hemp will soon be available for insulation. Plans are in motion to set up a hemp fair trade structure.
The ‘hemp house’ is a project to showcase industrial hemp and its potential as an eco-construction material. The house, completed last year uses hempcrete, hemp insulation, and hemp particle board. The hemp aspect of the building, which accounts for up to 50% of the walls, was grown in 4-5 months without the need for agro-chemicals, and resulted in a breathable, natural, sustainable and carbon-friendly building.
Hemp construction focuses on using the hemp stalks, which produces long strong hollow fibres that can be used to make insulation mats, while the woody part (hurds) can be pressed into tree-free particle boards for use in cabinets and panelling, as well as hempcrete when mixed with a lime-based binder. The aim of using hemp in construction is to move from an extractive method relying on mined and synthetic materials to a renewable method.
I fell in love with this construction material when I bought a book from Tony some years ago, called “Building with Hemp” by Steve Allin. We will report more about hemp building going forward.
It is Hemporium’s belief that for positive changes to occur on a planetary scale it is necessary for environmental consciousness to be adopted by the masses. With this in mind Hemporium aims to move hemp out of the alternative culture and into the mainstream.
The last 3 photos are from Below The Lion‘s lovely article on Tony’s hemp house.