The 100 Mile House Industrial Hemp Project is up and running again, as a student co-ordinator has been hired and a test plot has been seeded.
Project manager Erik Eising was in 100 Mile last week to meet with Horse Lake resident Robin Diether who was hired as the project student co-ordinator on June 30.
Eising says they had numerous applications for the student co-ordinator position and Diether was the one who stood out for the four-person selection panel.
Diether has already started maintenance and observation work on the test plot and will have numerous tasks to perform throughout the growing season.
These include providing producer support and project co-ordination, agronomic research and testing as well as co-ordination and liaison with a university partner, including green construction material development.
He will also construct a portable industrial hemp demonstration building, co-ordinate and host a green building symposium and field day, and help with fibre-processing activities.
Eising says all of this will be done in a team environment that also includes a local 100 Mile House Industrial Hemp producer group that was formed in January.
“We’ll also be doing producer group development and crop production field days, during which present and past producer group members as well as those interested in production will visit this year’s production areas.”
These folks will be given detailed information on varieties, fertilization, field preparation and marketing options, he says, adding this will help them get ready for next year’s production season.
Eising says the production area extends from 100 Mile in the south to Vanderhoof in the north and all are under the banner of the 100 Mile Industrial Hemp Project.
He’s also excited about the Green Building Symposium that will be held in 100 Mile. Eising explains that industrial hemp can be integrated into the construction industry.
“In combination with a binder, you can use hemp core to create non-structural walls and the fibre can be used for insulation.”
Eising was in 100 Mile last month to seed the test plot. It’s a countrywide varietal test program, he explains, and the only one in British Columbia.
“This year, we are testing five varieties and we’re replicating each variety four times to establish reliable results. We have 20 test plots and each one is six by 20 feet.”
Noting 2009 was a horrible year for growing, he says some of last year’s producers haven’t planted this year but remain with the producer group. However, two others have come on board.
“Some of the fields were not well prepared last year, so we’re really focusing on the varietal test plots and the fields on the producers’ side to get people interested and making them aware of how to have successful crop production for the future.”
Last year, there was some government funding for the project, but because it was a terrible growing year, they didn’t use all of the grant money.
Eising says they asked for, and received, an extension so they could use
the leftover funding this year.
Noting producers received funding last year, he says they are “on their own” this year.
“We’re now focusing our efforts on producer group development and our test plots, so we get better information on what varieties are best suited for 100 Mile House area.