Hempcrete could change the game in construction

Hempcrete could change the game in construction

Smokebrush Farm, an urban farm located on roughly 6 acres in Manitou Springs, plans to use an innovative building material this season. Hempcrete — a mixture of water, lime and the plant’s “hurd,” the woody portion of the hemp stalk broken up into small pieces — will be used for several projects that will eventually lead into workshops.

The farm is an offshoot of the Smokebrush Foundation for the Arts, an organization that hosts a variety of creative community events in the area. It utilizes biodynamic farming practices, an agricultural approach similar to organic farming but with a stronger emphasis on building holistic systems that maximize efficiency. And hempcrete fits well with that ethic.

“We’ll be doing hempcrete here over the next couple weeks,” Smokebrush Farm Manager Jeremy Tackett said in early March. “There are three hemp projects on this property.”

Among them, a “cosmic solar system slab” that will resemble a patio slab and serve as the centerpiece to an interactive rock garden, as well as fortifying the back end of a greenhouse with hempcrete insulation, and housing insulation for the farm’s ducks. On this last project, Tackett summarizes the construction process.

“We’ll frame with timber all around the window well, then we’ll get our OSB [oriented strand board] and screw that to the frame, then we’ll mix our hempcrete and pour that in. A few hours later we’ll take off the OSB [the form] and let it cure.”

The matter of hemp’s legality as an agricultural crop has largely been settled in Colorado; however, the debate around how all this newly cultivated hemp might best be used and marketed is only beginning.

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