Innovative hemp business set to boost local sustainability from Hartpury’s Tech Box Park
Hartpury is pleased to welcome EcoversityUK CIC as the latest member of the Hartpury Tech Box Park, a community of forward-thinking agribusinesses researching and testing their innovations on site. EcoversityUK Community Interest Company is an organisation passionate about regeneration and offers a wealth of knowledge on the socio-economic benefits that industrial hemp has to offer.
The company has joined the Hartpury Tech Box Park to support local farmers in exploring the many uses of hemp and will soon be opening its doors to consult local farmers and businesses on utilising the crop as a means to optimise sustainability and diversify outputs.
As popularity of the crop increases, EcoversityUK is in the process of curating industry experts and associates to compile the resources necessary to verify the literature surrounding the industry. To cater for this, The Faculty of Industrial Hemp is developing a borderless education and skills training platform called The Hempology Exchange Master Programme, also known as H.E.M.P Futures. The programme is designed to reimagine the industry by connecting academics, students and start-ups to unique cross-sector opportunities with industry leaders, both in the UK and abroad.
Stakeholder and well-versed advocate of the hemp industry, EcoversityUK Chairman Marcus Morley-Jones said: “Hemp is inherently a green foundation industry, and it isn’t necessarily policy that is holding back the sector anymore. For many it is education, training or equipment. Yes, restrictions on policy can be a non-starter for some. However, with the right level of support, rotating hemp could be the turnkey solution most independent farmers are looking for to regeneratively and economically improve overall farm performance and productivity.
Marcus continues: “Hemp is a multi-functional premium cash crop, so “versatility” is a word you’ll hear a lot when enquiring to grow this plant. What this means for the farmer is that ample amounts of food, fuel and fibre can be harvested in a single rotation – which also functions as a powerful carbon sink and natural soil conditioner. We’re seeing the plant reappear increasingly more in our diets, clothing and even in our construction materials. However, most businesses have no option but to import such products as UK farmers struggle to source a viable and scalable processing solution to meet demand. Here is where putting resources into education can help de-risk the supply and value chain, to enable local farmers and businesses to successfully test the crop as part of a local circular economic system.”
Over the coming years, EcoversityUK and its partners aspire to carry out a series of green Research and Development initiatives using biorenewable hemp. To kickstart this, Hartpury are currently supporting the social enterprise with a test bed for trialling hemp derivatives in animal bedding to improve on the all-round hygiene and ergonomics of the stables at the University’s Equine Division. The wider goal for the organisation is to commission and accredit the Hempology® Curriculum, with support from academics at the University’s Agriculture Department to develop courses in farming best practices. Once reviewed, the modules can be offered to students from grassroots to graduate level through vocational masterclasses, apprenticeships or even entry level undergraduate degrees at Hartpury and internationally.
Marcus concludes: “As the agricultural landscape evolves and green innovation continues to accelerate; we will inevitably keep advancing towards hemp bio-composites as an industrial standard. The crop has well over 25,000 proven sustainable uses and we are seeing it in more technical and commercial applications by the day. As a result, Hempologists are naturally becoming a sort after professional and environmental service to a multitude of industries looking to future-proof its operations. So, sharing the hemp story, establishing the future market and playing a part in the education of future agriculturalists – Hartpury students, is a ground-breaking initiative that I am proud to be championing here at Hartpury.”
Hartpury’s Tech Box Park facility, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the GFirst LEP ‘Getting Building Fund’ and the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, is dedicated to enabling the growth of innovative local businesses looking to develop new or existing products and accelerate them into the agri-tech market.
Click here to learn more about the Hartpury Tech Box Park programme.
Click here to learn more about EcoversityUK and express your interest in joining the H.E.M.P Futures initiative