Fayette County

Kentucky-grown hemp will insulate the walls of this house

Hemp enthusiasts attending a two-day workshop in Lexington began working Friday on what is touted as the first house to be insulated with Kentucky-grown hemp.

Participants in the “Building with Hemp” workshop, which coincides with Hemp History Week, learned about the history and uses of hemp before getting their hands dirty making insulation from hemp for a house under construction at 168 York Street.

“There’s a lot to be figured out, and I think this house gives us the opportunity to look into that,” said Josh Hendrix, director of business development and domestic production at CV Sciences, one of the partners for the workshop.

Hendrix, who grows hemp on his farm in Mount Sterling, said he hopes to one day build a guest house on his farm using hemp as a building material.

Kris Nonn, director of design and construction at North Limestone Community Development Corporation, organized the workshop along with Hendrix.

It is important, Nonn said, to understand “how something that grows really well here can be used for construction.”

As part of the project, a construction company has donated $3,000 to analyze and monitor the energy consumption of the house, he said.

“What we’re trying to demonstrate is how a locally-sourced product can help the local economy,” Nonn said. “There’s a potential for jobs, for green jobs specifically.”

According to Nonn, hemp is an “insulation alternative that doesn’t have major drawbacks.”

The material, known as “hempcrete,” is hypoallergenic, resistant to fire and insect damage, and “allows moisture to move through it,” according to Nonn.

Hempcrete is made from hemp, water and lime.

“You take the stems of this plant and mix it with lime, and basically it makes limestone,” Nonn said.

Workshop participant Savannah Thompson was among those making hempcrete and pouring it into the walls of the house Friday afternoon.

“I’ve been obsessed with hemp for four years,” said Thomson, who drove from Knoxville to attend the workshop.

Thomson said she began learning about hemp as she pursued a college degree in sustainability. A vegan, Thompson said she uses hemp as a source of protein in her diet. She also wore clothing made of hemp to the workshop.

“This plant is magical,” Thompson said.

When they took a break from building, participants were served food made using hemp products. Nonn said North Lime Coffee and Donuts made donuts using hemp powder, and for lunch, Minton’s at 760 served hemp-infused hotdogs. At the end of the day, participants planned to go to Rock House Brewery, where a brown ale made with hemp is served.

Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, hemp was classified as a Schedule I controlled substance because of its relation to marijuana. Although hemp and marijuana both come from the Cannabis sativa L. plant, hemp “contains no significant amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” according to the Hemp History Week website.

In 2014, lawmakers allowed hemp to be grown in Kentucky for research purposes under the federal Farm Bill. According to state law, hemp grown for research purposes must contain less than 0.3% THC.

“I hope that people come away from the workshop educated about hemp, and the difference between hemp and medical cannabis,” Hendrix said. “It’s an emerging crop with many different uses.”

Monica Kast: 859-231-1320, @monicakastwku