pop stars' drug of choice to Devon's farming saviour - hemp|
a crop that was once so essential farmers were told they had to grow it.
was later considered so dangerous it was banned. Now it's making a comeback.
Out investigates the comeback of hemp, now being heralded as a saviour for South
It's surprising to see acres
and acres of hemp in North Devon.
This is the plant that was once seen as
a dope smoker's dream - although this version is quite different.
industrial hemp, and Devon boasts one of the largest farms of its kind in Britain.
It's a crop that could have a big future, and other farmers are keeping
a keen eye on its progress.
We visit Henry Braham and Glynis Murray as
they prepare to harvest their latest hemp crop.
In another life Henry
and Glyn are movie makers - they made Waking Ned, the Land Girls and Nelly MacPhee.
years ago they bought their dream home in the country and it came with a small
piece of land.
What should they do with it? They decided on hemp - they
now have 1,600 acres of the crop.
They've also taken a big gamble and released
their own hemp oil which is now sold in top supermarkets and London food stores.
Hemp is not exactly a new crop. It disappeared completely from
our fields for half a century, but at one time it was considered essential.
straw to saloon cars and hemp oil... a versatile crop|
1st made it compulsory. It was important for a navy dependent on rope and sail.
growing was also a vital part of the war effort.
But farmers growing hemp
needed a special licence - because cannabis had been illegal since 1925.
the war synthetics took over and hemp went into decline again.
making a comeback because a new strain has been bred which contains negligible
amounts of THC - the bit that gets drug users high.
Even then, you still
need a special licence to grow it.
Hemp is a versatile plant. Paper, textiles,
building materials, detergent, oil, ink, and fuel can be made from it.
can also be grown in most locations and climates with only moderate water and
Henry and Glyn's dried straw is rolled into
bales and sent away for processing.
It also finds its way into another
form of transport, in Germany, where it goes inside the door panels of an upmarket
Out visits the hemp fields during the harvesting period when the seeds are at
The combine harvester removes the seeds from the top of the
A mower follows behind to cut down the stalks, which are then left
to ret - a natural process that sees the stringy outside of the stalk separate
from its woody core.
hemp - a serious business|
But it's the seeds - ignored by
most hemp growers in the past - that Henry and Glyn are really after.
They've launched their own brand of hemp oil and are now following it with a range
of other products.
Henry is not the only one pleased with the results
of his hemp growing operation.
When he started he was all on his own but
now it provides work for eight people including his neighbour Francis, who was
at rock bottom after he lost his animals to the foot and mouth tragedy.
part of the plant gets used. Even the woody core comes back to Henry and Glyn
as horse bedding.
And as well as providing enough oil for 2,000 bottles
a week, this plant also produces protein rich hemp cake, which can be used as
cattle feed or as fish bait.
It's good news for farmers looking to diversify
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