Is NZ on the cusp of a hemp revolution?

In the 20 years since Pam Coleman has been on her 80-hectare rural property near Ngatimoti, north-west of Nelson, she has let the land take over. The golden hay meadows buzz with life, and kanuka and manuka have overtaken the gorse. The couple raise rare-breed sheep, grow olives and make cheese.

When the law changed a year ago to add hemp seeds to the list of allowable food products in New Zealand, Coleman began reading up. "I thought, that's it, that's the way to go," she said.

"I started reading about how good it is for the environment. A tonne of hemp takes out 1.5 tonnes of CO₂; much quicker than trees. It matures very quickly, it's good for us, good for environment, good for planet and good for soil. And it has so many uses it seems endless."

Obtaining a hemp growing licence from the Ministry of Health took months. While she waited Coleman and her husband painstakingly cleared a 1.6-hectare slice of land by hand. 


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