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Does hemp have a role in a regenerative system?  RSS feed

 
Dan Grubbs
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I read another thread in the large farm thread about hemp, but I'm wondering if there is anyone in non-U.S. countries growing hemp for a permaculture reason and how it fits into their plan. I certainly understand the industrial scale of hemp as a crop, but does hemp lose its value as a plan element below a certain scale threshold. I don't want to plow and plant and harvest with heavy equipment, so I'm wondering if hemp actually fits into a plan at all for the 5-10 acre homestead. Several U.S. states (Kentucky, Colorado, etc.) have been given permission to plant industrial hemp for some trial purposes, but those are still at the industrial scale.

Maybe I missed a thread I should have read first, but I looked for something specific and really only saw the sunn hemp info and don't know that is the same ... or is it?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I eat the seed. I could grow it but won't. I don't want every idiot for miles around trying to steal it because they think it is smokeable.

Caution --- Threads on this subject get shut down when it devolves into debate on legalized dope. Let's all talk about the fiber, seed and oil crop that hemp is.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Yes, this thread needs to stay focused on the subject and not devolve into a discussion about marijuana.

So, let's assume the slow progress on U.S. approval of hemp as a cash crop for fiber, seed and oil follows the same model as Canada. With that assumption, industrial applications aside, is it viable on the smaller scale? Can it be integrated into a regenerative plan? I mean, this stuff grew long before man started turning soil over, so it had to have been part of a polyculture originally. If one doesn't want to plow, can it be sown with only a light disturbance of the soil or does it have to be drilled? I have so many questions, especially about producing a seed variety.
 
Mountain Krauss
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I won't be growing any until it's legal on every level (federal/state/local), but it seems like the seeds would be good animal feed, especially birds. I'd want the low-potency varieties that actually grow like weeds, rather than the high-potency stuff that is highly susceptible to disease.

Waiting until it's fully legal should also make it common enough that people would be less likely to trespass and try to steal it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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It grows in a tangled mess. It's going to be hard to complete with highly mechanized operations. There will be users who are willing to pay a premium, but the size of the market is unknown. As a field crop, it doesn't require herbicides. This is a good thing, but it removes a major selling point for the small grower. Industrial agriculture can produce hemp much more sustainably than they can grow cotton.

It's a good choice for the right large farms that want to transition to poison free and I think that's where it will go in the long run.
 
alex Keenan
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If you are going to grow it I would try to obtain the varieties that have high oil seed production.
You can press the oils and use the mass for animal feed or people feed in the form of a nice flour.
The rest can be used for fiber, mulch, or animal bedding.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Well, except for a few special permitted field trials, we can't grow it here in the U.S., yet. So I was hoping to hear from other non-U.S. permies who might have it in their systems ... or, hear from someone to tell me it's not really a good addition to a plan and why. I have read where the high-oil content seed varieties can also go rancid quickly after harvest so you have to process right after. I am hoping to use the seed to extract oil and then use the seed cakes to feed to animals and harvest some seed for the retail healthfood market ... that is once it's approved and that it proves to be a good permiculture plant.
 
Susan Bradley Skov
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In Denmark, it used to be mandatory for anyone with a bit of land to grow hemp for fiber - ropes for shipbuilding. People used it to stretch their tobacco supplies along with raspberry, currant and strawberry leaves during WWII. My former father-in-law grew it on the edges of his fields as a seed forage for the pheasants. He was still not pleased that it had become illegal when I met him in the late 70's, because renting out hunting was, and is, a good income source for smallholders with land near non-arable areas.
I have tried growing it as an overstory for brassicas, for shade, as our summers have been getting steadily hotter and drier here, and to confuse cabbage moths. I didnt have much success, but I think that was more because I tried to seed the brassicas between the small hemp plants, instead of using transplants. Hemp gets really tall, really fast. It also stinks - like a skunk has been around, and we don't have skunks! The hemp seedlings are really easy to plant out and remain fairly shallow-rooted, except for the taproot, so there can be problems with light soil and strong winds, but you certainly don't need to plow or drill. It will also sow itself and adjust fairly quickly to the climate in which it is planted, within a generation. It takes up a lot of space - about the same spacing as cabbage plants, but it can be used as chop and drop if you hack the fairly thick stems in pieces. Both the large leaves and the tops can be used without destroying the plant.
I see no reason why hemp, if it was legal, and you could stand the smell, couldn't be integrated in permaculture polycultures.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Susan, thanks very much for reply. It was informative and I learned some good things. It sounds as if you started hemp and then transplanted.
 
Cj Sloane
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Susan Skov wrote:In Denmark, it used to be mandatory for anyone with a bit of land to grow hemp for fiber...

It used to be mandatory in America, too.
 
Susan Bradley Skov
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Location: Denmark (USDA Zone 7, Koppen Cfb temperate oceanic)
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@Dan Yes, we started indoors and sat them out when it warmed up a little, because it's pretty wet and cold here in the spring, but some of the best plants we had were volunteers, which just got transplanted to where they could get better drainage and light.
 
ben harpo
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I have heard that it is a very heavy feeder and depletes the soil. Sort of like taking hay off a field only much faster.
 
Jacob Danley
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sepp holzer uses hemp in his system. I think he uses as a forage for birds and a pioneer plant to help loosen soils although it has been awhile since i read his book and i dont get to practice growing hemp since we have a mundane law making it illegal but i believe it could be a great resource for the permaculture crowd. i would love to feed my chickens hemp seed and let them forage for it on there own. Check out Sepp's uses.
 
jacob ford
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Location: polk county Oregon
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pioneer crop i like that, i have very clayey soil here. i shall investigate, cuz its legal in Oregon now.
 
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