WCAs were successful in securing a grant from the Dorset AONB Farming in Protected Landscapes Fund to lead an investigation into Hemp as a break crop within a regenerative agricultural system. The grant, secured through the Raise the Roof project, brought together a group of local farmers and landowners to explore the opportunities and constraints involved in growing hemp for construction purposes. A project report is now available setting out the key learning points form this initial phase of research.
The Hemp Group came about following initial discussions with local farmers and landowners about the availability of natural materials for use in the construction sector. It became apparent that due to historical associations between West Dorset and Flax/Hemp growing there was a latent interest in hemp as a new ‘cash crop’. Anecdotally it is known that there are positive impacts to be derived from hemp cultivation; such as soil health, carbon sequestration and ‘biodiversity net gain’. Whilst the benefits of Hemp is widely celebrated and offer huge potential opportunities for a “new” cash crop for British farmers, enhancing the supply of local textiles and construction materials, there is little evidence available to Farmers and growers to provide the confidence required to including hemp in rotations.
As the UK is transitioning from the EU CAP into the new Environmental Land Management scheme, Wessex Community Assets (WCA) could see benefits from supporting local farmers to explore the potential of Hemp growing and provide the evidence and support required to move to establishing field trials of the crop in West Dorset conditions.
With FiPL Funding the RtR Hemp Group:
- Brought together a study group of local farmers, landowners and contractors to explore the benefits and constraint of hemp as a ‘break’ crop in regenerative agricultural systems;
- Collated information on growing, harvesting and processing hemp;
- Worked with the farmers to develop a Phase 2 funding bid to FiPL to support 4 hemp field trials;
- Connected farmers to users of hemp in construction projects;
- Connected local Farmers to Uk wide hemp research; including the Innovative Farmers network.