The Gracious Hand of Hemp
The Praise of Hemp – Seed
“Weet sacred Muses, my inuention raise
Vnto the life, to write great Hempseeds praise.
This grain growes to a stalk, whose coat or skin
Good industry doth hatchell, twist, and spin,
And for mans best aduantage and auailes
It makes clothes, cordage, halters, ropes and sailes.”
– John Taylor (1620)
The excerpt above by English poet John Taylor reveals how central hemp was to the function of Early Modern England, serving an array of applications.
Perhaps, hemp will rise again in this new era of climate strife and ecosystem disintegration. Hemp has the ability to offer respite to matters concerning humanity which this time includes environmental well-being!
However, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) saw discussion directed elsewhere.
The lack of discourse around hemp was caused the UK hemp industry to organise the Beyond the Green event, which focused on hemp-based solutions for our planet’s future.
And Hemp Should Be Considered!
It holds more than just carbon sequestering abilities (a primary topic at COP26). The list is incredibly long (click here to see).
But, one of the most climate and environment-related applications there is hemp’s use for construction. It decreases carbon release and the immediate health risks posed by traditional building construction.
Furthermore, hemp cladding in a home improves breathability due to its absorption of moisture from the air, a build-up of which allows moulds, viruses and bacteria to spread quickly (a key concern in the current Covid-19 climate).
Hemp Out-Benefits the Rest
However, where hemp diverges from other resources and innovations sought to aid climate and ecosystem dilemmas, it does so drastically.
Hemp harbours much more diversity within the domain of sustainable materials. This is primarily due to hemp’s role as a plant. In one sphere, it offers materials for construction, tools and textiles etc, yet, in another, it provides sustenance for organisms (humans included) through air quality, nutrients in the soil, deterrence of pests within the local biosphere, and interacts well with other crops in a regenerative system.
A Regenerative Crop
In an interview with Patagonia on hemp’s regenerative role in farming, American author and hemp farmer Doug Fine highlighted hemp’s value.
Regenerative farming aims “to improve soil health and reverse climate change by expanding biodiversity, improving the water cycle, increasing organic matter in soil structure, and transferring carbon from the atmosphere to the soil” (full description here).
This process was briefly brought up at COP26 by food groups, such as Sainsbury’s and Cargill, which are adopting, indicating the viability of regenerative systems.
So why is hemp is not a key component in such farming practices already? It is a question that we must address. Hemp’s resilience and far-reaching utilisation signify its unique potential in sustainable processes.