After nearly 10 years of research and development in industrial hemp, Stonehedge Bio- Resources Inc. of Sterling is ready to lead the way in commercializing hemp in North America. Building on a business case developed through the Eastern Lake Ontario Regional Innovation Network (ELORIN), Stonehedge is now set to establish a bioprocessing facility in Eastern Ontario to serve North American markets.
Some of the products and co-products are aimed at the automotive, energy, agriculture, construction material, and pulp and paper markets. This fibre separation facility (decortication plant) is expected to provide new farm income for about 200 farmers, putting more than 12,000 acres into cultivation, said John Baker, president and founder of Stonehedge.
They secured $2 million in funding from Great Britain and met with the British Consulate on Wednesday, Northumberland County chief administrative officer Bill Pyatt told County council Wednesday afternoon. “Hopefully they’ll be able to obtain provincial and federal dollars as well,” Mr. Pyatt said. “This industry will supply all of North America.”
Starting this spring, Stonehedge expects to build a new bio-refining facility in Eastern Ontario that will employ up to 27 people by 2011. The company expects to produce more than $17 million per year in renewable hemp fibre, wood-like chips, and pellets, as well as matting and seed products. “Ontario is proud to support innovative companies that are turning good ideas into good jobs,” Research and Innovation Minister John Wilkinson said. “Today’s investment is a clear sign that our entrepreneurs and researchers are on the right track to developing and marketing globally competitive green technologies that will create good jobs for Ontario families.
“Eastern Ontario has carved out a new economic sector that will support our communities in the 21st century,” Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi said. “From research to high-technology bioprocessing to farming, we’re very excited at the possibilities this project has to offer.”
Article from Northumberland Today Ontario, January 23rd, 2009
Stirling Hemp Company Gets $2 Million To Open Plant
By Henry Bury
The Intelligencer Ontario
Stirling research scientist John Baker has spent a decade growing and testing varieties of hemp. He’s now taken a giant step toward producing industrial hemp for the global marketplace. The founder and president of Stonehedge Bio- Resources Inc. was in Toronto Wednesday to secure $2 million from private investors to open the first North American bio-processing plant for industrial hemp by this time next year.
Baker has received three letters of intent to invest more than $2 million from Lime Technology Ltd. in the United Kingdom, American Lime Technology in the United States and another private UK investor. Also attending the ceremony and news con-f erence were John Wilkinson, minister of research and innovation and Northumberland- West MPP Lou Rinaldi.
“I am delighted to accept these letters of intent on behalf of my company,” Baker said. “We have a vision to make Stonehedge the leader in industrial hemp in North America and today we are one step closer.” Baker said the investment will allow him to hire five employees this year and employ up to 27 people by 2011, as well as creating new opportunities for up to 200 farmers. He plans to open a biorefining facility along the Highway 41 corridor between Oshawa and Belleville that would produce Hemcrete, an environmentally-friendly limestone building material similar to concrete.
The company also expects to produce more than $17 million per year in renewable hemp fibre, woodlike chips, pellets, matting and seed products. “These bio-based products signify the future of sustainable development and clean green technology by replacing products that cause serious environmental damage with innovative carbon-negative alternatives,” he told The Intelligencer in a telephone interview from a Toronto hotel.
Industrial hemp has been grown for thousands of years to make fibre for clothing, furniture, ropes, sails and more. Baker said that as an agricultural crop, hemp is beneficial — it can be readily grown organically as it does not require the use of harsh chemical herbicides, pesticides and defoliants as do many other fibre crops.
Baker and his wife, Christine, have owned and operated Stonehedge Kennels and horse breeding farm on Eggleton Road southeast of Stirling for the past 25 years. Their 50-acre farm is located almost next door to their daughter, Beth Bouma, who has 80 acres. Baker said he’s spent the past 10 years growing, testing and coming up with his own varieties of hemp and is now looking to industrialize it for the marketplace. He said the Quinte area and Northumberland region provides an ideal soil/climate resource on which to develop the hemp biomass sector.
As well, he said the regions’ proximity to the Quebec-Ontario market corridor and the eastern seaboard of the United States provides an additional competitive advantage. Baker said he will need at least 17,000 acres of land to produce hemp. He plans on contracting hemp production to growers along the 401 corridor. “This will be an opportunity for Northumberland, Hastings and Prince Edward and Lennox and Addington farmers to grow seeds that we need to plant acreage,” he said.
Baker said he believes growing hemp can be as profitable as other crops. “It’s a great opportunity and our farming community can gauge on this… but it will take some patience on everyone’s part.” He is now looking for a location for the bio-refining facility for hemp, adding that it will have to be along the 401 corridor, central to where the hemp is grown. “We hope to be ordering equipment in three months and start production 12 to 15 months from today,” Baker said. “We will have to contract some acreage this year in anticipation of the plant being up in 12 months.”
He added the success of the operation may mean adding additional bio-refining facilities in the future. “The whole project will be in the neighbourhood of $20 million,” Baker said. “This $2-million private investment is a giant step ahead.” He said the possibilities are endless, considering that the global renewable and bioproducts industry is expected to exceed $125 billion in revenues by 2010. Baker credits several organizations for contributing to his success, including the Trenval Business Development Corporation, Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation and the Easter Lake Ontario Innovation Network.
Gerrit DeBruyn, Trenval’s executive director, accompanied Baker to Toronto Wednesday and said the investment is like a dream come true. “Trenval had been working with John probably seven years or so ago when he had this dream of utilizing hemp in various products and we have been supporting his mission by providing him some funding … we’re delighted today that after years of patience and perseverance on John’s part that we’re able to see a major breakthrough here,” he said.
DeBruyn said Trenval will assist Baker in taking the next step in opening his bio-refining facility. “It’s green energy and obviously we’re very supportive of that,” he said.