tea with tony - at his hemp home

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Wed, 2011-10-26 10:34

The Hemp House in all it's sunset-lit gloryThe Hemp House in all it's sunset-lit glory

After we had attended Tony Budden's talk a couple of Tuesday's back at Bedrock Manor , we had been super amped to check out his new home in Noordhoek.

Speaking about his own experience with hemp, Tony says:

‘I fell in love with hemp when I saw my first bit of cannabis fabric. It is so strong and durable...Then we started Hemporium . The work we do helps change the perception of hemp- we chose to make clothes because they are such a tangible product. Hemporium has been a good way for us to get the message out there, but it is not where we want to be. Our aim is to get the idea of hemp as a viable resource out there in the open. We ask people to look past the ‘smokescreen’ so to speak and realise that dagga is such a tiny percentage of this plant’s potential.'

The house is stunning. Backed by mountains and facing the sea, an outsider wouldn’t know that this contemporary work-of-art was of alternative means at all. Made from hemp and lime bricks, the interior walls from hemp hardboard and the floor carpets from hemp stalk fibre, one could say that this house is made 70% from various hemp products, proving the incredible versatility of such a crop.

Raw hemp chipsRaw hemp chips

‘Now that we are moving away from a chemical and petroleum monopoly, we believe hemp can be a integral part of a new need for revolution Tony states. ‘A shift definitely needs to happen in the kinds of resources we use – and this is where hemp comes in. Hemp makes shrinking your carbon footprint so easy!’

As hemp is not yet a legal agricultural cash-crop in South Africa, all the hemp resources for the house had to be imported from France and China. Hemp can be grown in under 5 months with very little interference, as it’s one nickname makes obvious: ‘weed’.
Tony’s dream for a hemp house began five years ago, and he believes the completion of this house represents a milestone for those advocators for hemp growth in this country.

‘Hemp is the oldest crop we know of – it was found in all areas of ancient civilisation. It is no coincidence that the Afrikaans word for shirt is ‘hemp’ – plus the word ‘canvas’ is derived from ‘cannabis’. Because of hemp’s unique resistance to rot and mildew, it was the popular choice for sails on boats back in the day, and wars were even fought over this fabric.’

The lounge spaceThe lounge space

From what I understand, greed and politics ended the hemp days. With the fear of it’s competition against the cotton industry and the dominance of an emerging petroleum-based fabrics, as well as the ‘Reefer Madness Campaign’ of the 1960’s, the western world saw a decline of its hemp culture.

‘For the last 80 years hemp has been banned in America and consequently many countries followed suit,’ explains Tony. ‘France did it’s own thing, and all the communist countries continued to grow it. There are already hemp houses in Europe and more than 30 countries in the world grow industrial hemp. I believe hemp could be the answer to many of our local issues: unemployment, lack of housing and more…'

‘The House that Hemp built’ – the short film on Tony’s house – explains that this resource is strong and versatile, as well as offering a whole spectrum of products: nutritious hemp seed, hemp bricks, hemp hardboard, hemp beauty products… The idea of hemp paper was particularly interesting to me, as naturally white hemp stalk plant apparently requires no need for chemical bleaching, as is the case at present with paper made from wood.

The hemp carpets are yum underfootThe hemp carpets are yum underfoot

‘I tried to source hemp locally - which I would have loved - but the powers of be were not keen to let us grow hemp until we could prove there was demand for it. Our ultimate aim is to be able to grow hemp here and build many houses from it, but to make it cheap enough to compete with the RDP houses will be a challenge. The great thing about hemp is that it creates zero harmful waste afterwards - it simply goes back to being plant food!’

Tony Budden believes that it is important that people are educated properly about the difference between hemp and dagga, and I am inclined to agree with him. Unlike many believe, smoking this plant will NOT make you high, as the legal level of THC allowed in industrial hemp- being 0.3% - is simply too low to affect you in that way.

‘We are busy getting all the right people to back us on this and things are really beginning to fall into place - for the first time in 15 years people are finally starting to get it,’ an excited Tony says.
‘We even have ministers in parliament beginning to push for local industrial hemp growth. Hopefully very soon we will change from hemp advocates to those who can deliver!’

Hemp insulationHemp insulation

Thanks to Grant McPherson for the photographs!!