Friday, 18 June 2021
A McGowan Government investment has helped kickstart hemp processing in the South-West, with a new processing facility now operational in Margaret River.
The Margaret River Hemp Processing facility, the first of its kind in Western Australia, is processing locally grown hemp into hurd, fibre and fines for the building and textile industries.
With a $399,000 funding boost through the McGowan Government's Value Add Agribusiness Investment Attraction Fund and Industrial Hemp Grants Scheme, the facility was able to get up and running and expand to meet local demand.
The hurd, taken from the core of the hemp stem, is being used to make hempcrete masonry walls featured in sustainable hemp homes, as well as for horse and pet bedding and hydro mulch. The fibre is suitable for insulation and mattress padding.
South-West building company Hemp Homes Australia has used material processed at the local facility to build hemp houses in Margaret River.
Hemp is an emerging industry, with processed industrial hemp materials having the potential to replace cardboard, paper, wood and even plastics in many applications across the building, textile and industrial sectors in the future.
Comments attributed to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
"The Margaret River Hemp Processing facility is up and running, opening up a new and job-creating industry for the South-West.
"Local processing is critical to drive the emerging hemp industry in the South-West - it makes hemp a more valuable cropping option.
"Margaret River builder Gary Rogers and Esperance farmer David Campbell have done a great job to have the vision and commitment to get this project off the ground.
"We invest in regional projects like this to support industry expansion and diversification of local economies."
Comments attributed to Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie:
"It is fantastic to see emerging industries such as hemp growing and processing starting up in our region.
"Local innovation is creating local jobs right here in the South-West. It is exciting to see the potential for future expansion in this innovative new industry."
Was a pleasure to spend the day with the WA Legalise Cannabis Members of Parliament members, the Hon Sophia Moermond & Hon Brian Walker.
One of the highlights of the day was this quote by Brian;
"There are immense opportunities for innovative hemp businesses in Australia. The amazing team at MRHP is fighting to keep it local. I thoroughly enjoyed being educated in this exciting area and look forward to presenting their innovative ideas and legitimate concerns in parliament soon. Thank you for having us"
Healthy for your Pet and Horse plus the Environment
100% Australian grown and produced hemp pet bedding from the beautiful South West region of WA, Margaret River. Grown and processed by Margaret River Hemp Co since 1995.
Made from the woody core of the hemp plant stem called hurd.
A sustainable Australian Industry, from our family to yours..
Industrial hemp is a revolutionary bedding option for your pet that does everything popular beddings does well without their drawbacks.
Has amazing moisture retention to keep your bedding free of any waste. You won’t have to scrub your pet’s home as often or worry about them living in their own droppings. Hemp bedding creates a clean resting space that prevents bacteria growth from extra waste.
Unlike regular beddings, hemp bedding absorbs ammonia odours and other nasty smells. The hemp plant creates a fresher and cleaner environment free for you and your animal.
There are zero trees harmed in the making of your finest industrial hemp bedding! Grows and decomposes faster than other beddings and produces 4 times as much pulp per acre as trees do. GMO and chemical free. Compostable and biodegradable.
Hemp has natural antibacterial properties and is an excellent insulator to keep your animals warm and comfortable in winter and breathable in the warmer months. Great for asthmatics and people who are susceptible to allergies or respiratory irritation that many other types of fibre can cause.
Hempcrete is a composite building material made by combining small pieces of hemp hurd processed from the woody stem of the industrial hemp plant (cannabis sativa) with a lime-based binder. Hempcrete walls are wet-mixed and constructed on-site around a structural, load-bearing timber frame to form monolithic, lightweight, self-supporting walls. In the hemp-masonry homes built by Hemp Homes Australia, hempcrete is used to construct all the external walls and, depending on the client, at least some of the internal walls. The external walls are protected with two coats of lime-based organic render and the internal walls are either finished with non-toxic clay plaster or simply left as natural walls.
When the lime-based binder in hempcrete is mixed with water and organic components such as hemp hurd, the composite material hardens into a self-supporting mass. Over time, the lime petrifies the organic material within the wall, which continue to harden as it ages, eventually becoming a comparatively light-weight solid stone-like wall.
Hemp hurd is a sustainable, organic material derived from processing the woody stem of the industrial hemp plant (cannabis sativa). Until very recently, the hurd required to build our hemp-masonry homes had to be imported into Western Australia from overseas or interstate. However, with the recent establishment of both a Hemp Processing Plant in Margaret River and the pioneering of Industrial hemp fibre crops in the local area, we can now proudly claim to be building the only, locally grown, and processed hemp-masonry homes in Western Australia.
Hempcrete not only creates enviably healthier living spaces, as a building material, its environmental integrity puts it in a class all its own.
Hempcrete walls, along with their lime and clay-based finishes, are vapour-permeable and are often described as “breathable” or hydroscopic. When humidity levels inside the home are high, hempcrete walls take in water vapour, and then release it when humidity levels drop, passively regulating humidity within the home. In our hemp homes, the hempcrete walls usually make the installation of ventilation fans in highly humid bathroom spaces redundant. This “breathability” ensures any build-up of condensation or moisture on the walls is avoided, circumventing potential problems caused by dampness and mould, factors long associated with various health issues. Dampness and mould in buildings can also result in fundamental long-term structural damage to the buildings themselves. Hempcrete’s capacity to natural regulate the internal humidity of a building provides a consistently comfortable and healthy living environment, contributing to the long-term well-being of both the home’s occupants and the building itself.
The combination of the hemp hurd and lime in hempcrete acts a highly effective natural resistance to pests, making it unnecessary to add any toxic chemicals or additives to the building structure. The use of lime and clay renders, coloured only with natural oxides, also removes the need to utilise any finishes containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other potential allergens, a fact that is highly appealing to many health-conscious owners. The lack of toxic building materials on a hempcrete site also ensures a much healthier working environment for our builders and tradespeople.
Without doubt, the savings in energy costs guaranteed by building with hempcrete walls is a big incentive for our clients. Hempcrete walls have the distinctive capacity to provide both thermal mass and insulation. Warm air, passively heated by the sun, or from a heat source within the home, is trapped between the small pieces of hurd-lime composite in the walls and within the microscopic pores of the hurd itself, ensuring all external and internal walls act as highly effective, natural heat stores. The passive thermal heat trapped in these 300 mm thick walls can then be released slowly when the building cools down. Additionally, the tiny air pockets in the walls’ composite material act as natural insulators, effectively protecting the home from external heat or cold. The thermal mass and insulative capability of hempcrete walls work together to naturally regulate temperature fluctuations and maintain internal temperatures at a comfortable level with very little use of conventional heating or cooling systems.
According to the owner of a house near Margaret River we completed in 2018, even during winter, the temperature inside the home in the mornings, without heating, is around 17 - 18 degrees. In very hot summer weather, the internal temperature never goes higher than a maximum of 25 degrees and will quickly cool down with a slight sea breeze. In colder months, given some winter sunshine, the internal temperature sits around 20-22 degrees during the day. In this particular home, sufficient cooling is provided by the occasional use of an overhead fan in the living area and natural cross ventilation through window openings. In winter, a small, efficient wood burning heater, which according to the owners is often used more for aesthetics than need, provides ample additional heating for the whole house. Although this particular home was given an official energy rating of 7.1, the home’s architect believes this rating may not fully account for the actual insulative capacity of the internal and external hempcrete walls because hempcrete is still a relatively unknown building material in Australia. Evidence based on readings from internal and external thermometers over the past year indicate this home is performing much better than its official rating. In any case, there is no doubt that hempcrete’s thermal and insulative performance will ensure the owners enjoy considerable savings in energy costs all year round for the lifetime of the home.
Owners of our homes are also always pleasantly surprised by the substantial sound absorbing and sound insulating capabilities of their homes. According to owners, rain and wind noise during severe winter storms barely registers inside their houses, while the solidness of the building structure guarantees little to no perceptible movement in any part of the home. Noise from everyday sounds is ostensibly absorbed by the walls, creating a real sense of tranquillity and peace inside the home.
As hempcrete has been used overseas in the construction of music studios, the owners of one home, who are self-described “music buffs”, were keen to test their high-quality stereo equipment in the home. According to these owners, listening to music in this home through their stereo system is “like sitting in front of an orchestra; it is a really full sound and we have been able to hear individual instrumental sounds that we have not been able to hear in other home environments.” It seems that the porous nature and lower density of the composite material in the hempcrete walls maximises sound absorption, resulting in an ideal listening experience.
Industrial hemp is NOT marijuana. It comes from the same Cannabis Sativa plant but is a distinctly different variety with almost nil levels of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana. It is now being grown commercially for seed and fibre in many parts of Australia and, as several local South-West farmers have shown, it grows exceptionally well as a biomass crop in this region. Much is claimed about the environmental positives of this “wonder plant”. Rather than add to this hyperbole, let’s simply look at what we can learn from the local hemp biomass crops grown and harvested recently for our sister company, (and the supplier of the hurd for our hempcrete), Margaret River Hemp Processing.
Most residential building sites generate considerable quantities of waste material. However, the organic nature of hempcrete, lime-based renders and clay plasters results in considerably less waste being generated during the building process as these materials can be simply washed away or dug into the ground.
A properly constructed hempcrete wall will become harder as it ages. The lime-hurd composite material forming the hempcrete walls also helps preserve the encased timber structural frame within, further ensuring the longevity of the building structure.
As hempcrete, lime-based renders and clay plaster are all vapour-permeable, provided sound construction principles are fully adhered to, there should never be any damage or weakness to the building structure from mould or dampness. Hempcrete is also naturally insect (including termites) and rodent repellent ensuring negligible future problems from these sources.
Hempcrete is also known to be highly fire retardant, making it a potentially viable building material for fire risk areas. To prove this point, Gary, the director of Hemp Homes Australia, placed a sizeable brick he had made out of hempcrete into the centre of a roaring bonfire and left it there for many hours until the fire had died out. The brick was retrieved from the ashes intact, with little perceptible damage.
Hempcrete homes are unique, highly aesthetically-pleasing and offer a myriad of health and life-style enhancing features. Owners of hempcrete homes can be confident that their home has been built, and can be maintained, with considerably less impact on the environment than conventional builds. Sustainable and timeless, hempcrete is a building material for a better future.