A Riddle For You:
I’ll feed, clothe, shelter and warm you. I’ll soothe your inflamed joints and moisturize your skin. I’ll even upholster your sofa, paint your walls and tie you up should you misbehave. What am I?
The answer: hemp.
Like bamboo, it has become one of those suddenly popular plants that, once harvested, can do just about everything. Hemp fibres are woven into cloth and hemp oil is used as fuel and hemp seeds in food preparation—every morning I sprinkle those delightful, nutty, hemp seeds on my cereal. Hemp fibres can also worked into strong and durable ropes and twines … remember macramé? Other hemp byproducts show up in plastics, paper and paint. Unlike marijuana, its notorious cousin, hemp does not contain THC (although certain varieties may contain minimal amounts).
On one of my daily Facebook meanderings I came across an article about ‘Hempcrete’, a concrete-like material that ues the inside stem of the hemp plant. Usually mixed with sand and a few other components, Hempcrete is denser and less brittle than concrete. It is an excellent insulator and provides a reliable moisture barrier for residential construction. Hempcrete is not a load-bearing component so it’s usually manufactured into a brick, or poured on-site for use in timber framed construction.
Hemp is a sustainable pesticide-free product that once mixed into Hempcrete will ‘last as long as a castle’. While initial construction costs may not differ much from traditional methods and materials, the properties of Hempcrete definitely help reduce heating and cooling costs over the long term. Australian builders advertise it as rot-free, fire-proof, waterproof and termite-proof, claiming that homeowners can dispense with air conditioners and all-day heating when using this product.
In BC, a handful of entrepreneurs use Hempcrete, primarily in the construction of tiny, environmentally conscientious homes … Jayeson Hendyrsan, an entrepreneur from Bowen Island, is one example. In May, 2014, he began a Kickstarter campaign to help launch his Hempcrete contracting and consulting company. You can read more about Hendryrsan at: http://www.producer.com/2014/05/hempcrete-homes-economical/