Hemp is one of the oldest beneficial plants in the world, and its history shows how versatile it is. According to the German Hemp Association (DHV), this plant was cultivated 12,000 years ago. In 1455 Gutenberg printed his first Bible on hemp, in 1870 Bavarian Levi Strauss made his first jeans from this crop, and in 1941 Henry Ford introduced his “HempCar” – a car that was mostly made from hemp, the association reports.
But industrialization drove the plant out of the market before it fell into disrepute as a base for intoxicating cannabis. From 1982 to 1995, the cultivation of industrial hemp was even banned. In the meantime, however, hemp is gaining popularity as a raw material again.
Bees and bumblebees are buzzing around Markus Hirmeyer. Cyclists come up all the time and ask, “Is this cannabis?” A 45-year-old farmer stands between chest-high plants right behind a sports field in Wellheim, Eichstätt district. Together with his wife Sylvia and two sons Niklas and Kilian, he is now growing hemp for the fourth year in a row. But anyone who thinks that stoners can just help themselves here is wrong: “To feel something, you would have to smoke the whole field,” says Hirmeier. His cannabis contains less than 0.2 percent of the psychoactive ingredient THC – and is not marketed as a drug but is processed into food. “We distribute seeds and make hemp oil from them,” the farmer explains. Compared to other oils, hemp oil has an optimal ratio of fatty acids, Hirmayer admires. The family then sells groceries in their store, from hemp oil and hemp flour to hemp noodles and hemp seed sausages. For him, hemp is the plant of the future: “You can do a lot for the environment with plants that are used sparingly. Unification is the future.”
Organic hemp stores in Munich, Augsburg and Ingolstadt show that hemp can be used in many ways. “We offer 400 to 600 different products,” says Christian Camassa. The 31-year-old man runs a store in Augsburg, and his stock includes not only food and beauty products, but also hemp pants, T-shirts and shoes. “The plant can be used to make clothes that will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer,” says Camassa. Various hemp fashion suppliers have been found long ago. And, according to Hirmeier, there is a reason for that: “Hemp fibers are extremely durable and outperform synthetic fibers.” Regular clothing is often not environmentally friendly in terms of disposal, but hemp fibers are recyclable.
“Hemp is definitely an interesting topic from an agricultural perspective,” says Stefan Froschmeir, Managing Director of Bio-Agriculture Birkenschwaige in Ingolstadt. He grows the plant for the first time this year and believes it will take root. “Hemp is a new kind of plant, so it is good for crop rotation because it does not tolerate any disease,” explains Froschmeir. In addition, hemp has “the super effect of the previous crop,” says farmer Hirmeier. “You can grow cannabis in compacted soils. Its long roots loosen the soil and give it structure again.” Hemp also helps protect species. “There is a lot going on with insects,” says Hirmayer.
Organic store owner Camassa believes hemp has the potential to change the construction industry in the long term. Hemp lime – a combination of industrial hemp and natural lime that forms an insulating and building material – offers the ideal balance of heat storage and thermal insulation and is beneficial for your health as it regulates indoor humidity and prevents mold on the walls. “Hemp is the building block of the future,” says Camassa. In addition, according to DHV, thermal hemp has received a “Naturplus” rating from the EU, which is awarded only to products that are authentically sustainable.Tags: cannabis, food, hemp, industry, perspective, plant