Creating sustainable rural communities around the production
When founding member, Joe, first discovered the enormous potential of the hemp plant, he envisioned how it could be produced to create sustainable, rural communities. In 2014, he approached an organic farmer on the Hardwick Estate and explained the agricultural benefits of the hemp plant.
The farmer had also heard about the wonders of hemp and so agreed to work with this experimental crop. The following year 27 acres were planted, the first seeds of Hempen were sewn.
Having harvested a bumper crop, Joe attracted a group of friends who also believed in the possibilities the plant offered. Hemp is already part of a booming CBD industry and can be grown organically. The diversity of this plant means the products it can become are almost endless; hemp paper, hemp fuel, hemp fabric, hemp plastic and so much more!
In 2015 Hempen formed as a worker co-operative, representing the equitable, sustainable and ethical production of hemp products – for health, wellbeing, culinary and cosmetic use. Over the years we have developed an incredible team of dedicated co-op members, employees and committed volunteers who have continued to help us realise our mission:
To cooperatively cultivate hemp solutions for people, community and planet
Many of the claims about hemp sound a bit far-fetched; the seed is a superfood, hempcrete is a wonder construction material, its fibre makes strong fabric and rope, the flower makes a powerful medicine, the root rebuilds and remediates depleted soils, growing hemp plants in open fields is great for wildlife biodiversity. Yet, all of this is true.
At Hempen, we understand how important hemp is as a resource and its capacity to grow abundantly. As the world approaches breaking point, this versatile green crop can aid our transition to a sustainable and environmentally conscious economy.The hemp seed is the most complete protein to be found in the vegetable kingdom, containing the optimum balance of omega fatty acids for absorption by the human body. It has 21 amino acids and nine essential amino acids, which our bodies require, (but are unable to produce). All our hemp seed products are raw and natural. The seed has a crispy shell full of fibre, in recipes, the hemp seed can be eaten whole, sprinkled on meals, mashed into pesto, blended to make milk or toasted for a snack.
The immense nutrient value in the seed, creates an easily digestible protein, which is handy when milled into a protein powder and flour! This earthy fibre rich superfood is a whopping 48% plant-based complete protein.
Pressing the seed into an oil ensures the precious golden ratio of omega 3, 6 and some 9 are retained. We can then process the seed into a deliciously rich oil for salads as a dressing or drizzled over bread. It can even be used as a health supplement by taking a teaspoon or tablespoon every day. Gone are the days of requiring cod liver oil tablets!
What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?
Any part of the hemp plant that is of green matter holds hundreds of compounds, including a range of cannabinoids – like CBD – that are known to bring our bodies into a state of balance. Cannabinoids play a crucial role in regulating our Endocannabinoid System (ECS); an integral system found in all animals except for insects. The ECS is a highly communicative network across the entire body which interacts with our physical, mental and emotional states. You might imagine it as the switchboard to our body’s homeostasis, reacting to internal and external stimuli by bringing the body back into balance.
Cannabinoids interact directly with both the immune system and the central nervous system through the endocannabinoid system.
CBD also holds incredible anti-inflammatory properties. As a consequence of previous obstructing policies, only a small fraction of cannabinoid research has been sourced from clinical trials.
However, as a civilisation we have been using hemp since ancient times, and throughout history. Scientific studies and research are growing as more is being discovered about how important cannabinoids are to our overall health and wellbeing.
Why grow organic?
Produce that’s free of pesticides and grown with sustainability at its core is healthier, both for the environment and for the people consuming it.
So why don’t we expect the same quality from our supplements and health products? When we’re trying to improve our health, it makes sense to find the products which have been produced according to the highest standards possible, which organic certification offers.
Any natural CBD extract (i.e. not synthetic) is made by processing hemp flowers into a thick resin. This extract is then mixed with a carrier or other ingredients into the products you choose. With any CBD extract made from non-organic hemp, there will be a much higher concentration of toxins and heavy metals than would be found in organic extracts. Organic certification ensures that no pesticides or synthetic agents were used, making sure the hemp plants are as pure and natural as the specific certification deems acceptable.
The benefits of organic hemp go beyond the final product. Chemical fertilisers and pesticides destroy the microbial life which is so vital to the health and resilience of soils. When hemp is grown organically and without the use of pesticides, the soil is protected from further degradation as well as improving the water retention and nitrogen content.
With so many reasons to go organic, it’s surprisingly difficult to find certified organic produce.
In the UK, the demand for organic produce is far greater than the supply. With so few farmers growing hemp – and even fewer growing organically – it’s no wonder the high quality and toxin-free extract is difficult to source. Surprisingly, hemp cultivation is still largely restricted in today’s society and often trapped in red tape.
Hempen exists to increase the amount of organic hemp grown in the UK and British Isles, working to build a collaborative industry that supports its farmers, processors and customers.
When the benefits of regenerative farming, organic hemp and CBD products are not fully understood by legislators and law enforcement, ethical products are more difficult to produce. Our food system has been dominated by a handful of corporations, providing convenience foods at a great cost to our health, communities, local supply chains and the soil. Until we see change, organic and quality products tend to be more expensive to cover the costs of additional processes.
The World Health Organisation stated that hemp poses no public health risk and the United Nations claimed that it should not be a controlled substance. So why is low THC industrial hemp illegal to grow without special government permission? Since 2018 only a few farmers have been able to jump through the bureaucratic hoops to get a hemp cultivation licence and there are only about 20 licensed UK growers, totalling just 2,000 hectares.
In 2019 Hempen was denied the renewal of our licence midway through a growing season, forcing us to destroy a healthy crop valued at £200k. It turns out that the Home Office had decided that farmers could no longer cultivate for CBD use. If we could have harvested the same field for CBD, it would be worth £2.4 million. Now, all CBD extracts in the UK have to be imported. We currently grow in partnership with farms across the British Isles for seed and fibre use, while governmental guidance on hemp cultivation and processing continues to be unclear. In fact, we often struggle to meet the demand for organic UK grown hemp, as the government hasn’t approved enough organic hemp farms.
This year, we are part of a campaign to ‘Liberate Hemp’ so that all life on earth can access this mighty plant. There are so many beneficial foods, cosmetics and structures we could make… if only we could grow more! The time is now. Our aim is to render the outdated licensing regime redundant so that one day we won’t need to ask for permission from government ministers with conflicted interests. Hemp will be decriminalised so that the potential of this plant can be fully realised.
From seed to shelf, your support is our growth. We’re cultivating a hemp renaissance across the British Isles, for the health of the people and the land.
Together, we will empower anyone who wants to access hemp and learn about its myriad of benefits. Let’s cultivate hemp together and overgrow the government’s licensing regime.
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