Hemp Farming 2020

Did you know that in the late 17th century, hemp was one of the most popular crops coming out of Pennsylvania? As a versatile plant, hemp was used for clothing, paper, and even shelter.

When William Penn founded the state in 1681 he specifically intended for the commonwealth to grow hemp.

Before cotton, before plastic, it was this plant and it was used for pretty much everything; shelter, rope, paper, you name it; hemp was in it.

One of the very first laws that was passed in the Pennsylvania General Assembly was called an act for the encouragement of raising hemp and by the 1690s it was flourishing in every early settlement.

Everything was great until a marijuana ban in 1937.

Hemp Fields

Although the two plants are both from the same cannabis species marijuana contains anything above 20% THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the substance that essentially makes you feel high when you use it.

Hemp on the other hand only has a THC level of 0.03 percent or lower.

As we used to always say you can smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole and you will not get high off of hemp.

Fast-forward to today where several states have already legalized marijuana for recreational and medical purposes and many other states have signed a bill for farming of different types of cannabis like hemp.

CBD oils have already created a billion-dollar industry enticing people like Anna and Drew Oberholtzer who traded their city jobs in Los Angeles to become hemp farmers and Pennsylvania.

Hemp Farm

Everyone says there’s 25,000 things to do at hemp, we’re focusing on a few.

On this property we have about eight buildings. It’s a 10 acre property, we want this to be a campus makerspace for exchange for people to learn great new products.

Hemp can be used for so many different things including making the clothes that we wear.

And once the construction is finished on this farm they’re hoping to show people some of the ways including using it for animal bedding, making gourmet food, and building houses.

Me, being an architect and seeing how toxic materials go into the construction and when the building is demolished all that goes back into the landfills.

It had a huge effect on us when we had our own baby.

You spend 90% of your time in some sort of building whether it’s at work or at home.

And most of those materials are petroleum-based, they off gas, they’re actually really not that healthy for you.

Hempcrete house construction

So we came across hemp as a building material and we just kind of like went down the rabbit hole.

Hempcrete is the material many homes and buildings in China, France, and Europe are made of.

Now that hemp is legal here, more Americans are using it too.

Hempcrete is a terrible word for it and it implies a similarity to concrete that doesn’t actually exist.

First and foremost, it’s not structural; so there is a traditional frame inside the building that’s behind me and in every hempcrete home, and it also can’t be used in situations where you use concrete.


Although it’s a wonderful term that gets people motivated and inspired, it’s not completely accurate.

So we refer to it as hemp-lime because that very literally describes the combination of hemp and lime binder.

This kind of wall assembly controls your moisture in the inside of the house.

It helps you control the temperature, insects can’t eat it because of the alkalinity of the lime, mold doesn’t grow on it, it is fire resistant, and overall is just a superior way of construction.

hemphouse on wheels

This is a hemp house on wheels; a demo unit that we build out of hempcrete and plaster.

We built this so we could take it to different places to show people what can be done with hemp and hempcrete and lime plaster.

I think what Anna and Drew are doing are absolutely remarkable.

I’m so grateful to have met them because we are really aligned in our vision of what hemp can become from an environmental standpoint, from a social economic standpoint.

I think that they have the ability to show how you can take hemp full circle; from growing to incorporating into your everyday life and the environmental benefits that can have.

To read about No-Till Hemp Farming, check out this post

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