England’s Ecological Farmers
The presentations made by the English representatives were dominated by
ecological concerns. David Strickland of Organic Farmers & Growers
discussed hemp’s position as the ideal crop for the ecological farmer. The
fact that hemp suppresses weeds and is generally disease free are both
major advantages for organic growers. Hemp’s status as a deep rooting crop
also reduces the need for fertilizers as it can use deep lying sources of
Sue Riddlestone of The Ecology Centre described the potential
ecological and economic benefits to be gained from small-scale processing
industries for hemp and other fibres. In her paper she writes that “The
green ideal is sustainable local production for local needs.” She mentions
briefly the fact that about 75% of virgin paper pulp consumed in the UK is
imported, much of it from British Columbia.
Riddlestone further explained that a revival of traditional, multiple use
crops such as hemp would increase Britain’s self-sufficiency and benefit
small-scale rural industries. It would also allow farmers to diversify
their production and reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Three Long Years of Hemp
Hemcore is a British company that undertook a three year program to
develop the cultivation, processing and marketing of hemp in the UK. In
addition to this, they have also grown commercial crops of hemp during the
last two years.
Ian Low, a partner in Hemcore, described their hemp growing experiences. He
explained that they had not found it necessary to use any herbicides,
insecticides, or fungicides on their crops, and that the plants had matched
their reputation for an impressive growth rate by reaching an average
height of over three metres.
In 1993 Hemcore suffered some crop theft from pot smokers foolishly raiding
their fields. This did not occur in 1994, presumably because the word got
out that the plants did not provide any intoxicating effects.
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