A view on hemp: Fibre, Seed and Soil
A tour & lunch at Margent Farm on Friday 6th August 2021
Darshil Shah (Centre for Material Innovation)
Tim Williams (Soil expert & regenerative farmer)
The SSAW team will be at Margent Farm in Cambridgeshire inviting guests to visit and explore the hemp farm for the first time, learn about the marvel crop from inspirational speakers and enjoy lunch on site. The kitchen will be headed up by Lulu Cox, former sous chef at Rochelle Canteen, and there will be botanical set design to reflect the peak time of harvest in the British growing season by florists Jess Blume and Wetherly.
Fawnda Denham introduced Steve Barron to some of the merits of growing hemp. This already was a venture embarked upon through the urge to find a solution to his concerns about the future of our planet; top-soil degradation, plastic waste in our oceans, carbon emissions clouding our air, and human well-being. We will explore how hemp can help fight on all four fronts.
Steve purchased 53 acres of derelict Cambridgeshire farmland in 2016 and re-named it Margent Farm after the margins he introduced to surround the arable fields. These act as a protection zone for insects and wildlife to flourish.
Now fully certified organic Margent Farm operates entirely off-grid: the buildings are heated by a sustainable biomass boiler and powered by a domestic wind turbine and subtle array of solar panels. The first year’s hemp harvest in 2017 yielded more than enough fibre to build the farmhouse from scratch. The farmhouse construction reflects the material it is made from: the woody ‘core’ of the hemp plant was used to make ‘hempcrete’ for the exposed interior structure, bringing hugely efficient insulation while the plant’s exterior fibre was developed, with the help of Cambridge University, into a new corrugated cladding material.
The day will focus around topics intrinsic in the process and understanding of hemp farming and the breadth of uses and benefits for the crop. Hemp requires a license to grow; it is a fast-growing crop, and “ better than commercial forestry at sequestering carbon – and its long tap roots help to regenerate the soil.” - says Paloma Gormley, head of Practice Architecture who designed the farm house.
This event allows for a full circle exploration of the potential of hemp, it’s wonder and versatility - for anybody interested in ecologically minded practices and innovation in agriculture, architecture, fashion and design.
At Margent Farm, Oldhurst Rd, Pidley, Cambridgeshire PE28 3FB
Limited Parking is available on site - please car share.
Nearest train station, Huntingdon (1hr from Kings Cross).
Please contact us regarding disabled access and facilities on site.