Sowing the vacant lots has begun, Source: City of Ghent

Zwijnaarde island in Ghent is becoming a hemp farm

Zwijnaarde island in Ghent is becoming a hemp farm

Exie, a company that does thermal insulation, announced it will plant 2.3 hectares with the crop

On 13 July, Exie, a company making thermal insulation announced it will plant 2.3 hectares of industrial hemp on Ghent’s Zwijnaarde island, to produce tons of carbon-negative building materials. Around 3.5 million energy-efficient and recyclable cannabis plants will dot the area around a couple of derelict construction sites and the E40 highway, providing the city with a circular product, capable of storing CO2.

Hemp – the hip new building insulation

Exie – a company specializing in hemp-based insulation is seeding a number of abandoned industrial estates along the E40 with lime hemp. This hemp variety is completely legal and is praised for its special quality as a sustainable building material. At the same time, the plant is non-mind-altering, which means there is no need to worry about poachers.

image fieldsThe area where the industrial hemp is sown, Source: City of Ghent

Furthermore, the plants grow to about three meters in 100 days, making them very effective at controlling the natural growth of weeds, severely reducing the need for chemical management of the plantation.

Lime hemp is energy-efficient, recyclable, free of toxins, CO2-negative and completely bio-degradable. It also serves as a perfect CO2 sink, since when the plant is harvested and re-purposed it is not burned.

Sown today, picked in the fall

Exie is now starting to sow the hemp plants so that they can be harvested in the fall, perhaps in October. After harvesting, they will make beer from the flowers and insulation from the hard parts of the stem. The process of creating the insulation is ludicrously simple - the fibres are separated then lime is added and the mixture is dried in just half an hour.

A total of 2.3 hectares of land will be planted, good for about 3.5 million plants. Depending on the future plans for the derelict plots, it will be later assessed whether the cycle will be repeated next year.

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