The houses that hemp will build
By BREE PRICE
KEITH BOLTON's clothes are caked with red soil and his brow shines with sweat, but he cannot stop smiling.
The Southern Cross University Centre for Ecotechnology project manager is unable to hide his excitement at being only months away from building the first hemp houses in Australia, after 2.5 million hemp plants were harvested at a Byron Shire property yesterday.
Mr Bolton said the plants would become masonry blocks used to build two houses in the Tweed Shire, with construction to begin in June and completed by the end of the year.
"Hemp masonry products are far superior insulation to conventional masonry products. They are much lighter and keep energy usage down," he said.
Mr Bolton said the hemp plants do not contain the drug Tetrahydrocanibinol (THC) and were part of the North Coast 'mop crop' project, in which plants are irrigated with effluent.
The plants, grown under a licence from the NSW government, then turn that waste water into resource water.
The hemp house project was carried out in conjunction with Eco Fibre Industries and Mor- rowby Futures.