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Grass-roots look at hemp farming

Wayne 'Wadzy' Wadsworth welcomed more than 100 interested people including farmers and business people to his Hemp Farming open education day at his Nimbin property.
Wayne 'Wadzy' Wadsworth welcomed more than 100 interested people including farmers and business people to his Hemp Farming open education day at his Nimbin property. Alison Paterson

HEMP farmer Wayne Wadsworth reckons this humble plant can help save the world.

Hemp can be used to make many items, including clothing, rope, geotextitles, paper, insulation and soap.

In the US the industrial hemp industry was conservatively estimated to be worth in excess of $500 million last year - and there's no reason why Australia can't get involved on this highly versatile and profitable plant.

The Nimbin-based industrial hemp farmer who is a passionate advocate of permaculture, Mr Wadsworth took tours through his massive greenhouse where he explained the benefits of industrial hemp across a range of industries, from clothing to food, building and medicine.

He said while it's recreational cousin with a Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) rating, takes up most of the oxygen in the room when hemp is mentioned, the industrial variety with a low THC cultivator with has many uses.

Visitors ranged from traditional farmers seriously interested in growing the crop to business-people looking at investment opportunities, tree-changers, suppliers, organic gardeners and even a contingent from Brisbane's Jabiru Caravan & RV Club, who were in town on holiday, popped in to hear about hemp's many uses.

Mr Wadsworth explained industrial hemp which is a tall, annual herbaceous plant, contains high levels of protein and exceptional Omega 3, 6 and 9 qualities.

"There are three main part of the hemp plant we should be using," he said.

"The outer fibre known as the Bast fibre, the inner fibre or woody core known as the Hurd of the plant is a lightweight material and the seeds, dependent on the cultivar, can be eaten whole or crushed to produce foods and industrial oils."

Mr Wadsworth said he was pleased so many people came along.

"I thought I might get 15 and over 100 people turned up," he said.

Mr Wadsworth explained in NSW, farmers are required to plant seed that has a THC level of 0.5% or less and monitor THC levels in crops.

Topics:  hemp nimbin northern rivers business



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