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Creating a Navajo Standard for the Hemp Fiber Industry – Value Added Technologies

Creating a Navajo Standard for the Hemp Fiber Industry’ blog post is presented by the Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute, a non-profit dedicated to developing tribal hemp initiatives in the state of Minnesota. This is a three-part series of their current hemp research. To learn more about their efforts for Tribes, please visit anishinaabeagriculture.org/tribal-hemp-initiative

2021 -2022 Goals for Value-Added Technologies 

We will build technical and marketing support for a value-added hemp economy in northwestern Minnesota, and into the northern plains. The fiber hemp plant is 20% fiber and 70% hurd.

Textiles

With the support of our allies at LIFT Economy, we will complete research and development for textile hemp with Renaissance Fiber, with the hope of building a medium-scaled hemp fiber processing mill. Working with research staff and consultants, we will determine business planning and feasibility for milling operations on the White Earth reservation.

Research will include:

A) Technical and equipment specifications

B) Market development

C) Producer support and equipment needs assessment and planning

D) Energy, water, and transportation planning.

Hurd

In a regional collaboration, determine feasibility options for the development of hemp hurd value-added industries in the region, including hempcrete, hemp bricks, and hemp hurd for animal bedding. With the tribal housing crisis continuing, we see the development of hempcrete technologies as a very vibrant opportunity to create carbon-neutral, and energy-efficient houses for tribal members. In June of 2021, Research Director and colleagues from the Parsons School of Design/New School will come to White Earth to assist in planning of an elders house and an educational/retail center for hemp products. We intend to develop these two pilot projects in 2021-2023, and use these as an opportunity to create, along with collaborators regionally
(Turtle Mountain Buffalo Hemp Project) a replicable housing model.

A) Determine technical and material specifications, determine zoning and other regulatory needs.

B) Determine sources of equipment and resources to build demonstration energy efficient, and affordable hemp building structures.

C) Work with national allies and our organizations, including the Parsons School of Design to resource the hemp building projects. Complete Plan.

D) Begin Build (2022 complete)

Fiber

Research scaled opportunities for hemp/wild rice hull fiber including most specifically artisan and larger scaled paper development.

A) Continue research and build collaboration with hemp/recycled paper producers to assess market and technologies. Work with Bloomin Paper and other allied industries.

B) Build a business plan for hemp/recycled and hemp/rice artisan paper opportunities. Look at small-scale/artisan and larger-scaled development potential for northern Minnesota paper mills.

C) Develop a business plan

Grower and Market Support

A) Assess integration and coordination possibilities between value-added industry producers on the White Earth reservation, including drop shipping, etc. of NativeHarvest, Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm, and Honor the Earth enterprises.

B) Determine mail order/retail capacity, systems, potential, and strategize for possible collaborations. Look at the opportunities of the Taos Community Economic Development Center for value-added food producers and marketing.

C) Complete assessment and strategizing with producers, wholesale, and retail.

Ron Chilton in hemp field

We successfully harvested our Future75 hemp field. We have baled it up and will be sending those to our partners for further processing. There were lessons learned along the way and we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to do research and development in this industry as we learn about best management practices, make connections, and continue building the hemp economy on White Earth.

Stay tuned for the third installment, Hemp Harvesting and Processing by Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute. You may read the first installment here.

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