The Argus, Lifestyle Magazine - 29 Sep 2020

HEMP IS MAKING A COMEBACK

Celtic Wind are taking an old crop into the 21st century,

writes Margaret Roddy.

29th September 2020

Celtic Wind CEO, Paul McCourt, showing off the the hemp crop at the company’s
open day

Celtic Wind CEO, Paul McCourt, showing off the the hemp crop at the company’s field day of 2020. 

The tall hemp plants sway in the gentle breeze as Paul McCourt, CEO of Celtic Wind, talks to visitors at the company's recent show-and-tell open day at a farm on the Cooley peninsula.

There is no mistaking his passion for this ancient plant which was once grown widely in Ireland and which can be made into a wide range of products from CBD oils and skincare products to animal bedding, luxury mattresses and building materials. Not one bit of the plant goes to waste which is one of the facets which first attracted him to it when he began investigating it ten years ago.

'I'm fascinated with it,' he confesses. He first learned about the plant when reading about the Napoleonic Wars and was impressed to discover the many uses of the crop, from food to materials. At one stage, farmers were obliged to grow the crop and faced penalties if they didn't.

'The American Pilgrims brought hemp seeds with them on their ships and when they landed in America, they planted the seed for food and then used the stalks for making their wagons, repeating the process as they moved westwards,' he says.

He spent two years doing research before reaching out to farmers who would grow the crop for Celtic Wind.

Now Paul is on a mission to bring hemp back into the spotlight as an eco-friendly sustainable crop.

Celtic Winds have a number of contract farmers who grow the crop for them. Last year they harvested 320 acres on a number of farms on the Cooley peninsula but this year, they have just 35 acres growing on Eamonn Toner's farm in Bellurgan.

Harvesting is due to take place as the plants ripen and the crop is taken to Celtic Winds processing facility outside Ravensdale. There, the different components of the plant are separated. The seeds are pressed into oil and the straw is baled and sent to the UK, where it is used in a variety of products from luxury vegan mattresses to building materials.

'It's a no waste crop,' says Paul, explaining that anything which is left over in the field is then ploughed back into the earth, providing nutrients for the following year's crop. 'This is the fourth year that the crop has been grown in this field.'

The field is surrounded by a headland which is left as a wildflower meadow to attract bees and other insects.

Click here to read the entire article by The Argus

 

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