Episode 23 - Super Seeds
On the next episode, screening 19 August 2018 at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
Simon White and business partner Isaac Beach used to spend a lot of time explaining the difference between industrial hemp and its illegal cousin marijuana, but that’s changing.
“People are getting educated in this area because the industry’s developing at a rapid rate globally and in New Zealand,” says Isaac. “Most people now understand that hemp is not psycho active - it has none of the THC that’s in marijuana and which induces the stoned feeling.”
This year, Simon notched up his fourth hemp harvest on his Central Hawke’s Bay cropping farm. A chance meeting with Isaac a few years back led to the two forming a partnership, importing seed from Canada and pioneering a new industry.
Simon’s in charge of growing and Isaac oversees a processing operation they have established in Hastings where hemp seed is pressed into a culinary oil, sold under the Kanapu brand.
Simon says learning to grow hemp has involved a lot of trial and error.
“Because it’s such a new industry, there are no approved herbicides or pesticides to control weeds. And then at harvest time birds can have a huge impact on your yield—they love the seed and consume a lot of it in the paddock.”
Hemp seed oil contains the optimal ratio of omega three to omega six, meaning it is packed full of health-giving properties. Simon, his wife Lou and their three children Millie, George and Oscar eat it daily and Simon says arthritis pain in his hips and lower back has disappeared since he started having a teaspoon a day.
He says the kids love it too: “They’re hanging out for it in the mornings just like a little lamb looking for milk”.
The hemp industry’s been heavily regulated in New Zealand because of the plant’s connection to its mind-altering cousin. That’s now changing and Simon and Isaac have a raft of new products waiting in the wings, including hemp flakes, a hemp flour for use in baking, a supplement for high performance athletes and a hemp seed milk.
Simon is the third generation of the White family to be running Ludlow Farm near Otane. He grows around 10 different varieties of crops each year ranging from coriander, carrot and hemp seed to squash, sweet corn and peas for McCain Foods.
He returned home to Ludlow Farm nine years ago. Simon’s parents Neil and Gwen still live on the property, but Simon has free rein to run the farm as he thinks best. “My father died when I was 26,” says Neil, “so I got to make all the decisions early in my life and I’ve remembered that. I think it’s important to give the person taking over your operation an early chance.”
Neil says cropping has changed dramatically since he started farming. “The big difference is labour’s disappeared off the farm and been replaced by mechanisation. My father employed six people whereas now we have just three on a farm that’s producing probably ten times I guess what we produced in 1980.”
Simon says while he certainly doesn’t have ‘the iron disease’, he’s a big fan of the machinery and technology available to cropping farmers today because of the certainty it provides.
“Being able to see what’s happening with irrigation on the farm wherever I am via my cell phone or letting the GPS system monitor yields and steer the machine while I’m harvesting takes the risk out of our business and allows us to get the best out of our crops.”
Find out more about Kanapu hemp products here.
Read more about changes to the regulations governing hemp seeds as food here.
Find out more about the homestay on Ludlow Farm here.
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