Just under half a hectare has already been planted at Douglas in eastern Taranaki and another 3.7ha were planted at Urenui on Saturday.
Once milled the fast-growing crops will be sufficient to build three hemp homes, builder and entrepreneur Greg Flavall, the co-founder of Hemp Technologies, says.
The first harvest is expected as soon as January and building of New Zealand’s first hemp house, near Bell Block, will start by early next year. The New Plymouth District Council had already approved the structural engineering, said Mr Flavall, who was born in Taranaki.
He is a strong advocate for the age-old plant after building some of the first hemp-lime homes in Canada and the United States earlier this century.
“You can call me a hempster,” he says.
Mr Flavall has returned from the United States to look into developing hemp-cropping in New Zealand to export to the US, has seen the potential, and is now keen to stay. His aim is to see 1200 acres (485ha) planted in Taranaki.
To make the building product, the internal part of the hemp stem is mixed with a lime-based binder. It continues to harden or petrify over time and lasts hundreds of years.