We Won’t Be Building with Romanian Hemp, but …

After weeks of observing a sample of the hemp-shivs we found piled up in Carei we decided to use it for construction. But, for reasons too boring to go into here, we had to move the hemp from the huge outside pile into a temporary storage (we could not yet ship it to our house because heavy trucks cannot get there yet and insufficient storage space). Yesterday we headed out to Carie together with Sabin to move our hemp. With the help of our local supporters we managed to find a construction company that agreed to both transport and store the hemp for us.

We started the day (after a 3 hour drive to Carei) by visiting the storage place – which was ample but needed to be cleared out and cleaned a bit. It was south facing which was great as air and sn would have continued to dry the hemp (not to ourselves: Andreea had a bad feeling from whn we arrved at the storage facility).

We thendrove back to the hemp-pile where we met again with Rodica Maxi. It took some time for things to get moving (a tractor for loading and a 30 cubic meter truck for moving transporting the hemp). By this time we were preparing ourselves for an extended visit including one night. It was etsimated that each truck load (including loading, driving and offloading) would last 40-60 minutes. We were planning to move ~14 trucks (for 2 houses) which meant that the job wasn’t going to be completed in a single day.

Finally (at around 12:00) we got a call that the truck was arriving so we headedot to greet and direct it. Here are (left to right) Andreea, Rodica and Sabin waiting for the truck (note o ourselves: a dog got hit and badly injured by apassing truck right before our eyes – we saw it coming and couldn’t do anything about it).

The truck arrived and we headed to work. The top layers of the hemp pile were clearly rotten (not good for construction) and they needed to be pulled off. But as the tractor came in and started moving it around we realized that the rot went deeper.

Though there was plenty of usable material it was mixed in with many rotted pockets and there was no clear or consistent pattern that we could work around. Also, it seemed that the tractor’s gross action was actually messing up what good pockets of material that were still there. So we attempted some manual intervention.

But it just wasn’t meant to be. We looked around, touched the material, dug some holes and there was no feasible way to separate out the good material. The only solution we could come up with involved lots of careful ad caring manual labor (10 people over a week) to create a potentially usable pile of material. That, together with other considerations such as the weather (expected rains) and logistics (loading, moving and storing) piled up to an unattractive solution. So, content with our effort to build with Romaian hemp we decided to abort. Here is Sabin taking one more trip around the pile before we walked away.

This hemp can be a wonderful fertilizer but not much more. In fact Rodica took with her a sack of what looked like beautiful half-composted humus to use in her flower garden (I envied her, I would have loved to have this pile as compost for our land!).

We were only slightly disappointed – as we knew from the start it was a shaky upill effort. We were really hoping to salvage the last available hemp in Romania for the first hemp-lime construction but it didn’t work out.

It was agreat opportunity for us to spend some more time with Rodica who refused to give up, harnessed our passion and energy, made a few calls and an hour later (as were having a late lunch together in a restaurant in town) she informed us that she has probably found an alternative source in Hungary (close to the Romanian border). It is going to be more expensive per ton (minus all the transportation and storage overhead we were ready to endure) but much cheaper then most of the industrial hemp we found in Europe. It is a better quality material, clean and probably packaged. Rodica said she wll be visiting the manufactrer in the coming weeks, she will see the material and send us a sample and also offered assistance in arranging shipping (when we need it, where we need it) through her company. How wonderful 🙂 and the journey continues 🙂

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8 Comments

  1. Hello from Slovenia,

    I am disappointed to read that even in 20th century, the hemp industry is shutting down. This is probably because the law was hitting this field severe in history.
    I am glad to see that all around the world actions are taken to finely expand the Hemp industry and create supporting law.
    I will appreciate a contact of the source in Hungary mentioned in the article above, the only information I have from Hungary is that the hemp industry there is also closed.

    Thank you,

    Jani
    e-mail: js.kristan@gmail.com

  2. Hello Jani,

    Thank you for your comment. Though it's true that many parts of the hemp industry seemed to have shut down we are also encountering alot of people who are interested and working to revive it so we have hope 🙂 We don't yet have direct contact to the hemp supplier. We'll share more information as it becomes available to us.

    All Things Good
    Ronen

    1. Hello from Attila in Hungary!

      My pair and I are also planning on building a hemp/earthship home with yurt structure here in Hungary. We hope to get in contact with more people in the hemp industry to utilize the pulp! I am also interested in the contact information! I also have found a hemp farm near Debrecen. I will post contact info here shortly! Thank you for your blog! It is really inspiring!

      -Attila

      1. I don't know what you mean when you say hemp/earthship … the two don't really mix. Hemp (and other natural fibers) can only be used above ground and earthships are mostly underground … so the two are not really compatible.

        If you are thinking of building above ground I believe hemp is one of the best technologies out there. However we have decided to go underground … so hemp is no longer on the table.

        Good luck with your project 🙂

  3. Hi,
    I am a Romanian doing a postdoc research in harvesting of hemp seeds from hemp swath at ATB Instiut für Agrartechnik Potsdam Germany. We have here an experimental hemp crop but I know that in this project there are also big German producers of hemp fibers. I am also hopeing to be able in the near future to do a EU financed project in Romania and hopefully restart the hemp production there.
    I would much appreciate if I could get in contact with your connection from Romania that are interested in producing hemp fibers and whith which I could also propose for a financing. You can contact me at dola@atb-potsdam.de
    I wish you succes in your project and hope to be of some help to you. I also know a big pile of short hemp fibers in northen germany and the owner doen't know what to do with it. The pile was in good shape and pretty recent (so it was not rotted).
    All the best to you and your projects,
    Daniel

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