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Prefab homes and CBD oil: Organic hemp grower from Groningen is at home in all markets
The organic hemp grower from Groningen Dun Agro uses the entire hemp plant, from top to stem, to make products. Nothing is thrown away.
Who would have thought that basic human needs, such as housing and food, could be met by a single plant: industrial hemp? Dun Agro, a company from the province of Groningen, specializes in growing this hemp variety and ensures that all parts of the plant are used in the processing process, in order to make all kinds of usable raw materials and end products. “We make sure nothing is thrown away,” says Albert Dun, founder of the company
Sugar beet, potatoes and grain: a wide variety of arable farming can be found in the province of Groningen. Still, the people of Groningen had to get used to it: the fields of Dun Agro, strewn with industrial hemp, not to be confused with the regular cannabis plant. You can’t get high from it. Partly because of the stigma, hemp is still little used to make products. And that’s a shame, because the plant can be used to make all kinds of products, without the environment having to suffer.
Dun explains how that works. “It concerns a cultivation process that is grown without pesticides. Moreover, hemp is a circular product: We use the entire plant to make products. The entire chain, from production to making the end products, is tackled regionally.” In addition, hemp contains another important property: “The plant absorbs a lot of CO2. When the hemp is used in homes or cars, the CO2 is captured for a long period of time, which is of course beneficial for the climate,” says Dun.
Dun Agro is at home in all markets: The company from Groningen managed to conquer a place in the car market, where the hemp fibers are processed in the doors of the cars, and in the insulation market, where hemp concrete is made from the fibers to -to build houses. A few years ago, the company also started producing CBD oil.
CBD is an active substance that is extracted from the tops of the plant. People use the substance to, for example, combat sleeping problems, anxiety attacks or epileptic attacks. The tops of the hemp are used for this. A large part of the CBD is mixed with oil and sold in drugstores in the Netherlands under various brand names. “It is a pure variant,” says Dun. “That distinguishes our product, because most CBD oils work with synthetic variants.” And not only people benefit from the substance. “CBD and cows also go very well together,” says Dun. “By processing it in animal feed, fewer antibiotics are needed to keep the animals healthy.”
Dun Agro is supported by the Province of Groningen in implementing new innovations, as well as in harvesting the CBD. “CBD requires a special way of harvesting,” says Ko Munneke, Senior Policy Officer for Agriculture at the province of Groningen.” After all, you cannot mow the entire plant, pick it up and take it to the factory. The tops have to be picked first. We have supported Dun with a machine that can be used for this.”
The hemp stem is also widely used. The inside of the hemp stem, a woody product, is used to make animal bedding, which is sold throughout Europe. This part of the hemp is baled and bought by horse keepers. The litter provides advantages compared to regular litter. This way the bedding absorbs a lot of moisture. In addition, less dust is released in the barn compared to regular wood chips or wheat straw. A eucalyptus scent is added to the luxurious variant of the product. “It makes the stable smell wonderful,” says Munneke.
Insulation in prefab homes
The company is now known for it: the stem of the hemp is used to make Lime Hemp, which can be used for housing, among other things, and the Bast fiber for the car industry. This gives Dun Agro a world first in prefab homes: The wood product is mixed with slate and water to then make prefab walls. “It’s a shame to throw away our entire wood-like core as litter,” Dun says. “That is a lower-quality product. You can also build houses from it first and then scatter it over the land.”
The hemp concrete is already being used in Groningen. Munne is happy with that. “Several homes are being built in the province where we use concrete, such as in the earthquake zone.” The number of applications from outside Groningen will also increase in the coming years, Munneke predicts. “Due to the housing shortage, I think there is an increasing need for prefab homes. If you can produce these homes in a sustainable way, then that is of course very nice.”