Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jul 2009
Source: Beacon Herald, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2009 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Donal O'Connor, Staff Reporter


Private-sector funding for establishing hemp-processing factories may
be a hard sell at the moment, but Gordon Scheifele is undaunted in his
passion for developing the enormous potential for hemp.

Earlier this week on a farm just east of Tavistock, Mr. Scheifele was
showing a group of 16 mostly student workers how to distinguish male
and female buds on hemp plants within a 10-acre seed crop.

Plants showing yellowish male buds, he explained, were to be pulled --
a task known as roguing. The plants with female buds, which will
develop into seeds that can be certified for resale, were to be left
alone to grow to maturity.

Mr. Scheifele spared few details in explaining to the young workers --
area students ranging from Grade 9 level to first-year university --
the potential that industrial hemp holds for the future of farming and

The list includes building and insulation materials for houses,
material for garment and bags, a substitute for plastic in the
automotive industry, an antiseptic and absorbent bedding for horses or
other livestock.

That's apart from the edible seeds that are rich in essential fatty
acids and the seed oil that can be used in the making of non-dairy
cheese and yogurt.

The immediate task at the farm -- which is one of several in the
Stratford-Tavistock-New Hamburg area with a total footprint of about
85 acres -- is to produce "certified seeds" that farmers can plant to
develop their own crops for industrial use.

The crop is monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and must
meet a high standard of purity. Industrial hemp approved for
cultivation contains only small quantities of the psychoactive drug
delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is contained in marijuana.
Approved hemp contains less than 0.3 per cent THC compared to 10 to 30
per cent in marijuana.

A hemp researcher and the secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Hemp
Alliance, Mr. Scheifele has been extolling the value of hemp for more
than a dozen years.

Still, he acknowledges that even 11 years after the Canadian
government removed it from a prohibited list (because of its genetic
association with marijuana) development of a hemp industry remains a

"It's globally revolutionary but it doesn't happen overnight," he
said. Ontario processing plants -- one in Delaware and one in Stirling
- -- that were funded by the provincial and federal governments more
than a year ago are apparently still trying to line up private sector

Ontario production that was up to 2,000 acres in 1998-99, when the
crop became legal, is currently down to 300-400 acres, said Mr. Scheifele.

Despite the reduction, Mr. Scheifele is optimistic.

"It's been very difficult but it's coming," he said, referring to
efforts to produce enough product to meet industrial demand while at
the same time developing processing plants that will provide a market
for Ontario-grown hemp.

Stonehedge Bio-Resources Inc., based in Stirling, planned to open its
Hempcrete plant this year to produce a building material similar to
concrete that incorporates hemp fibre.

The company expected to produce some $17 million annually in hemp
fibre, wood-like chips, pellets, matting and seed products.

Stemergy in Delaware, formerly Hempline Inc., operates a large
research-and-development facility at Delaware and since 1998 has
created technology and expertise for extracting and refining the
fibres in stem fibre plants.

Company officials could not be reached for comment.

The Ontario Hemp Alliance is holding its third annual hemp maze and
field day Aug. 15 and is promising demonstrations, vendors and food.

Entrance fee for the event, to be held on Perth Line 33 between
Shakespeare and Tavistock, is $10 per vehicle. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr