The first house in the state being constructed with hemp-based materials is being built on Maui. Architect George Rixey will open the home’s construction site in Kihei on Jan. 30., where the benefits of Hempcrete will be highlighted.
Hempcrete–one of several hemp building products–has many advantages: termites donʻt eat it, it is hydrophobic, itʻs mold resistant, it breathes, it is fire resistant, and it has excellent insulating properties. Hempcrete is made from 12-15 feet tall hemp stalks that are dried and pulverized, mixed with lime and water to a consistency of paper mache, and applied like poured concrete. As the product dries to a solid, it pulls CO2 from the air, creating negative carbon footprint. Hempcrete takes the form of its container–in this case, the shape of wall frames that Rixey has designed.
In addition to demonstrating the use of Rixey’s hemp building products, State Rep.Cynthia Thielen and Denise Key of Hawaii Farmers Union United will be available during the Jan. 30 event to speak about the many uses of industrial hemp and the progress of a bill in the State Legislature to allow hemp as an agricultural crop.
Industrial hemp has the possibility of becoming the next cash crop for Maui farmers–turning ag lands green again, without burning fields for harvest, according to Fey, a Maui expert on industrial hemp. As a rotational crop, hemp removes petrochemical-based pesticides and toxins from the soil. Hemp seed is a nutritious food and hemp oil pressed from seed is extremely high in omega-3 and GLA. And it is not psychoactive.
Key has been instrumental in getting a bill through the Hawaii State Legislature to approve growing hemp on all the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaii State Legislature has approved experimental agriculture of hemp, and is now considering allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp.
Hemp is a highly profitable crop, a nutritious food source, and is used to produce thousands of products, including paper, textiles, oils, automotive parts, personal care products, and sustainable construction materials for building. Hemp seed, hemp seed oil and Hempcrete insulating building materials are marketable products; U.S. sales of various hemp products were $580,000,000 in 2013, according Hawaii Farmers Union United. However, the prohibition on growing hemp makes it necessary for manufacturers in the United States to import almost all of the hemp fiber, seed, and oil that they use; industrial hemp is currently being grown in at least 30 countries including Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Romania, Australia, and China.
If the U.S. changes the hemp laws, American farmers could provide the needed hemp at a more competitive price and Hawaii could help lead a growing movement to support U.S. production, according to HFUU. Growing our own hemp could provide a significant agricultural and economic opportunity for Hawaii farmers that would also create jobs in value added processing.
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UPDATE: Katherine Kama’ema’e Smith, a publicist for the house, emailed us on Jan. 17 to make clear that the public is NOT invited to the Jan. 30 event. “Rixey will entertain media guests (which we expect to be a very small group), allow them to photograph the process,” she wrote. “However, the public will be cordoned off from the site. I should have made this clearer in my media alert, and I do apologize.”
Photo courtesy Hawaii Farmers Union United