Future faces of hemp

Farmers across Western Australia are currently taking part in a trial to find an imported hemp seed which thrives in one of the state’s many climates.

If successful, growing industrial hemp provides a way for farmers to diversify their produce and earn extra income during the quieter months.

Those involved in the trial are working to transform perceptions of the misunderstood crop and harness its potential.

Gail Stubber is excited about the potential of industrial hemp.
Photo: Steven Thomas.
Daniel Gardiner’s Moora property has never seen hemp until now.
Photo: Steven Thomas.

The trial is being run by HempGro, WA’s hemp growers co-op, and executive officer Gail Stubber says they’re not doing anything new.

“Hemp was put on the narcotics list and what everyone is doing around the world is putting hemp off the narcotics list,” Ms Stubber says.

Moora trial site farmer Daniel Gardiner says he is taking part as it’s important to embrace changes in the agricultural sector.

“It [hemp] may not have a fit but I think you’ve always got to keep your eyes open about what other new crops are there or how do we improve what we do going forward,” Mr Gardiner says.

Hemp is a fast-growing crop with the Capel trial site germinating two weeks after seeding. Photo: Steven Thomas.

Ethel Hawkins’ trial site in Capel has been passed down through her family for generations, and she’s interested in seeing whether the hemp crop can help rejuvenate the soil.

“We had a lot of compaction here and we had residues from all of the old orchard chemicals and so I was interested to see if the hemp would impact that in a positive way,” Ms Hawkins says.

Bronwyn and Chris Blake aren’t taking part in the trial, but are proving industrial hemp’s value in the health food market.

“What that seed coat provides is a really amazing source of insoluble fibre,” Ms Blake says.

“It’s like an exfoliator for your insides, it really sort of cleans you out and cleanses you.”

Chris and Bronwyn Blake have grown hemp since 2015 and started their business in 2017. Photo: Steven Thomas.
Ethel Hawkins is excited to see how her crops will develop. Photo: Steven Thomas.

In this video we follow the story of WA’s emerging industrial hemp industry and examine the potential of the crop.