Could an Industrial Hemp Industry help the Channel Island’s Horticultural Heritage and Economy?

The Islands History:

Let’s begin in the late 19th century, when Jersey’s staple crop was hemp, supplying the ship yards with materials to make sails and ropes.

The 1839 publication “Primatae Flora Sarnicae, an outline of the flora of the Channel Islands” indicates that Hemp was grown between St.Helier and St Aubin at the time.

During this period joiners and shipwrights started building Greenhouses (lean-tos traditionally) and followed the first commercial exports of grapes and flowers.  

The islands current agricultural industry of flora, potatoes , cauliflowers, and tomatoes are crops that make for an unsustainable agricultural system and drain the land of its nutrients.  Hemp, on the other hand, would work hand in hand with existing crops, rejuvenating the soils and reintroducing beneficial nutrients.

Some more recent news:

Jersey has had a hemp operation up and running for five years.  

The islands are investigation their future with hemp, and are in a special position to be able to do so. Being small islands they may be able to turn around procedures relatively quickly and start cultivating.

On a financial level now:

The Channel islands were hit particularly hard when the 2008 economic crash bankrupted Jersey, that now owes £145 million to the UK. Guernsey owes £40 million a year to the UK. Could the industrial hemp industry save them?

Local Government:

At the beginning of the year there was much discussion; however the local governments have still not started any import or production strategies.

Earlier last year, Deputy Montford Tadier, a Jersey politician suggested to the Jersey Minister for Health,  Andrew Green, that he should start the ball rolling on plans to grow.

Deputy Taidier said:

“If we can grow hemp for rope, we can grow it for medicinal use too. The benefits would be economic as well as environmental.”

“It is nothing short of an act of cruelty to force patients to choose to live with pain and not access their chosen medication, or to potentially criminalize themselves and access unregulated and variable-quality medicine from the black market. They can, of course, choose to grow it themselves, ensuring quality, but still risking prosecution and jail.”

It seems quite possible that as Tadiers says, this new industry may bring a welcome break and prosperity to the region during these exciting, if turbulent times.


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