12 Feb 2021

Banking on hemp becoming mainstream

From Country Life, 9:35 pm on 12 February 2021
Jamie Engelbrecht

Jamie Engelbrecht Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

A Canterbury hemp grower is swinging open his farm gates to showcase the crop.

Mainland Hemp's Jamie Engelbrecht says people are learning of the plant's potential but still have lots of questions so they are welcome to attend two upcoming field-day events.

Jamie was born and bred on a sheep and beef property in Waimate then studied farm management at Lincoln University.

The former rural bank manager has recently left his job at ASB to focus on the hemp growing and processing business he started with some Lincoln mates a couple years ago.

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Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Mainland Hemp grows about 70 hectares of CRS1, a seed-producing variety, on several farms in Mid and North Canterbury.

With a lot of plants per square metre, Jamie is quite optimistic there will be a good harvest next month.  

The business has recently built a commercial seed drying and oil extraction facility on a farm near Culverden.

"From the hemp we're basically getting the seed and processing it into a bunch of raw hemp materials that will then go into retail products," he says.

Mainland Hemp's seed drying facility

Mainland Hemp's seed drying facility Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The seeds and oil are mainly sold to a couple of local hemp-focused businesses.

The Brothers Green is Mainland Hemp's main customer and a partner in the farming venture.

"It's always been our motivation and mission to bring hemp foods to the mainstream, make it accessible and get that paddock to plate food story to the markets," says The Brothers Green co-founder Brad Lake.

The Christchurch-based company uses the seeds for its fast-growing hemp food range and is working on developing products that use hemp fibres.

Mainland Hemp is hosting field-days in Culverden on February 20th and 21st.

"We're going to put on a couple of buses from Christchurch and take anyone out, urban or rural, who wants to see the hemp crop and learn a little bit more about it," Jamie says.

Click here to register

A 20 hectare paddock of hemp growing in North Canterbury

A 20 hectare paddock of hemp growing in North Canterbury Photo: RNZ / Cosmo Kentish-Barnes