Hemp foods were finally made legal in Australia last November (2017) and farmers around the country are looking at how they could incorporate the miracle plant into their business.
Producing seeds and fibre in a traditional way is what most farmers are interested in. Hemp is a very useful plant to fit into their crop rotation. It does not need much fertilizer and hardly any pesticides, while it also leaves the soil behind in a very good condition.
So it makes perfect sense to grow hemp for most farmers, however, some growers are looking at niching into one of the biggest segments in the hemp foods market – the health-conscious consumer.
Hemp is one of the most promising superfoods available and because of its little reliance on fertilizers and pesticides, it is one of the easiest crops to grow organically.
Growing organic hemp seeds and fibre is quite common among farmers, and anyone who wants to stand out has to niche further down.
Virgin Hemp Farms, located in Nimbin, the picturesque Northern New South Wales (NSW) region on the east coast of Australia, is developing an Aqua Hemp system to grow hemp in permaculture.
Research is ongoing to identify plants that grow synergistically with hemp in a controlled greenhouse environment.
Hemp farmer, Wayne Wadsworth (Wadzy) invited us to his farm and showed us around.
Wadzy has developed an ecosystem that is almost entirely self-sustaining. I am best to let him explain a little bit about Virgin Hemp Farms, so please watch the below short intro:
Plants grow synergistically and their food is produced by animals on the farm. The Aqua Hemp system is utilising fish, crayfish, mussels and snails in the water which gets pumped through a system that turns nitrite (NO2) into nitrate (NO3) and then the water is pumped to feed the hemp and other plants in the garden bed.
The water runoff is diverted back to the water tank to eliminate water wastage.
This is a fascinating system, that works in a similar concept as hydroponics, however, instead of an inorganic growing media, the Aqua Hemp system uses a nutrient-rich, organic growing media and instead of synthetic fertilizers, in the Aqua Hemp System, the water only includes organic fertilizer created by the fish and other animals in the water.
Here is a video Wadzy explaining the Aqua Hemp system:
Apart from the food produced by the fish in the water, another source of nutrients for the plants is provided by a biogas system that utilises water plants and other green waste from the farm to generate biogas for energy and highly valuable organic liquid fertilizer for the plants.
Watch the below video to see how the biogas system works in the Aqua Hemp environment:
Permaculture and uniquely sustainable systems, such as Wadzy’s Aqua Hemp system are not only self-sustaining but produce a high-value organic product with minimal or no environmental footprint.
Goods produced in such an environment are sought after, high-value products that are sold at a premium price.
The Virgin Hemp Farms are developing products, such as organic permaculture hemp tea, that is aimed at consumers that are not only looking for organic products but also concerned about sustainability and the environment.
An Aqua Hemp system can be as small or as big as needed. These type of systems are as suited for a small rooftop garden in the city as it is for a large farm in the country.
The Virgin Hemp Farms is holding an open day on the 9th of February 2018, and if you can, I highly recommend you visit them in Nimbin and learn from Wadzy.