2018-01-10 / Front Page

Putney business hopes to create Hempcrete pocket neighborhood


This artist’s rendition of the Ark, designed by Linesync, shows the building that would be a public cafe and cannabis/natural health store built with hempcrete as part of a larger resort catering to cannabis and healthy living advocates. This artist’s rendition of the Ark, designed by Linesync, shows the building that would be a public cafe and cannabis/natural health store built with hempcrete as part of a larger resort catering to cannabis and healthy living advocates. PUTNEY — Two Putney residents and business co-founders are looking to create a “pocket neighborhood” that would include housing and a health store all constructed of Hempcrete, a chemical-free and fire-resistant natural building material.

On Dec. 21, owner Emily Peyton said that she and Tom Simon, co-founders of Hempfully Green Healing House Inc. (HGHH), are working on a business proposal for a store design called the Ark.

“I have a beautiful, beautiful design,” she said.

The Ark, designed by Linesync Architecture in Wilmington, Vermont, is a structure built with Hempcrete that would be a public cafe and cannabis/natural health “healing store,” as part of a larger resort catering to cannabis and healthy living advocates.

Tom Simon fires up the hempcrete, showing its flame-resistance.Tom Simon fires up the hempcrete, showing its flame-resistance.They have a three-acre parcel in Putney, and could buy another 10 abutting acres, once they have raised more funds. They are still in need of funding, however, and said this winter would be a good time to “get really good at fundraising,” to bring the project to fruition.

Peyton added that this winter will be the time to “write letters, get serious. “

HGHH, founded in 2016, has a mission to create chemical free communities using net-zero, organic and sustainable practices.

Peyton and Simon launched a capital drive campaign in April to purchase land and begin construction on a chemical free pocket neighborhood. The first neighborhood of Healing Hempcrete Homes would be built for people with chemical sensitivities. Such a pocket neighborhood helps create communities and alleviate economic stress, Peyton said.

“Our team has been working behind the scenes to create a company that offers housing that especially serves those who are chemically sensitive, and those who want to live in a sustainable setting within a pocket community,” Peyton wrote in a press release. “The project will define hempcrete as one of the most important tools we have to reduce carbon emissions while setting a higher standard of interior air quality.”

Peyton said she truly believes the holistic approach to climate change, such as they envision, will “show a path” to collectively buying land and to a community supporting and sustaining one another. They had looked into several locations, but Peyton and Simon have since decided that the pocket neighborhood could be built on land they own in Putney, possibly with a co-op of hemp growers. They may still consider building the health store in Brattleboro.

Peyton said that this spring, Roger Allbee, soon-to-be-retiring CEO of Grace Cottage Hospital and former Secretary of Agriculture, was helping to steer the plan, along with Dan Yates of Brattleboro Savings and Loan. A team of professionals have been working behind the scenes to launch this campaign, according to Peyton.

“I think they were all for the idea,” Peyton said.

Since the launch in April to proceed with the plans, however, the funding has not yet materialized, she said.

Peyton said she went to the bank with a property “that would pay for itself,” she said. People with chemical sensitivities, especially those who stay sequestered from society because of that sensitivity, would be ready to pick up and take part in the pocket community once the funds came together, she said.

“It’s a matter of putting the chicken before the egg — the money has to come first,” she said.

Her partner came up with an idea of hosting “juicing parties” over the winter to help bring people in and help them learn about the products.

Before launching the company, Peyton was a stay-home worker and past gubernatorial candidate. Peyton and Simon founded Hempfully Green in 2016.

Hempcrete is sturdy and resistant to fire, as demonstrated in videos they have created to share with the public. The bales of hurd are the interior of the stalk of the hemp plant that is used for building. They are known as “hemp hurd,” or sometimes hemp shiv. They come in bale form and the binder comes in a separate bag, and the two are added together with water in a mortar mixer. The hurds are also useful to pet owners and horse or exotic pet owners for bedding because of their anti-bacterial and absorbent nature, Peyton said.

The project has received attention and support from several people who have traveled to Putney to help out on the land. Jarred Saunders traveled from California when he heard about the project. He has since returned home with a family emergency, due to the recent fires.

In the meantime, more of HGHH’s hemp CBD products are getting into stores. The have had a busy summer, selling hemp products such as fresh drinks at a booth at the Big E. People were coming up to them and saying, “This is the best stuff!” Peyton said.

“It was great to see the awareness,” she said.

Helper Jarred Saunders of California, with Hempfully Green co-founders Tom Simon and Emily Peyton, stand in front of a hemp plant holding hempcrete, a building material.They have recently added CBD buttermints and their line of hempseed shortbreads, and are working on packaging for their living hemp drink Zemp, she said.

Nationally, hemp legislation has seen some progress. In North Carolina, for instance, Hemp, Inc., which describes itself as having the largest multi-purpose industrial hemp processing facility in the western hemisphere, is now selling a loss circulation material (LCM) called Drillwall. The company recently applauded several states across the U.S. for passing legislation to promote growth of the industrial hemp industry, according to a company press release.

In 2013, the Vermont Legislature and Gov. Peter Shumlin passed S.157/Act 84, authorizing the cultivation and production of hemp in the state of Vermont. Vermont law requires persons wishing to grow hemp to register with the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

The registry helps identify “legitimate farmers wishing to grow hemp as a fiber, food/forage, and oilseed crop,” according to the Agency website.

Hemp growers are responsible for verifying that the seeds used are of a type or kind known to produce plants that produce THC below the 0.3 percent (by dry weight) threshold. There is also no connection between the medical marijuana program and the hemp program, according to the state website.

The capital drive for the HGHH hempcrete pocket community and store is ongoing. For more information, visit www.hempfullygreen.com, or the crowdfunding page at https://www.gofundme.com/hempcretecoming. A project video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSEnDaHcdgI. Peyton can be reached by email at hempfullygreen@gmail.com.

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