Paul McCourt CEO and founder of Celtic Wind explains how his firm is leading the way in the hemp industry for a sustainable future.
At Celtic Wind we created the tagline ‘working towards a sustainable future’ as we truly believe that we are creating a sustainable business to lead the way in the hemp industry.
The industrial hemp plant has many uses and Celtic Wind plans to capitalise on all of them, creating no waste of any of the plant parts creating health food supplements, natural fibres for industries and wood core for building and bedding products.
We use no chemicals in any of these processes and if we have any waste it is returned to the field from which the crop came from to replenish the nutrients and complete a fully natural crop cycle.
Working with hemp since 2009
The company’s founders have been working with hemp since 2009 and registered the business in 2012 with a view to bringing the hemp industry to Ireland and be a globally traded business.
Creating jobs and making a difference to the economy and the environment, the 2019 crop of 500 acres will capture during its growth cycle over 1650 tons of carbon from the atmosphere this season. This is equivalent to the carbon produced in over 220 American households every year.
We understand the plant and how it performs in different conditions and reintroducing old natural farming techniques in order to produce a unique range of natural products. We have also created our own supply chain which we call seed to shelf meaning we are in full control of all of our own raw materials and manage everything from putting the seed into the ground all the way through to the finished bottle on the shelf – giving our customers total confidence in Celtic Wind.
By introducing old farming techniques like meadow planting, this allows Celtic Wind to grow a natural crop without the use of agrichemicals, leaving a boundary around the field to ensure that wildlife can come back to protect the crop, encouraging white butterflies, ladybirds and bees which all play a role in maintaining a healthy crop by controlling disease and infestations naturally.
This is an industry that can no longer be overlooked with all the benefits it brings. It creates jobs, it protects the environment and gives us clean natural raw materials to work with. As this is all produced locally it would cut down the impact on transportation of goods and mining for resources, thereby reducing our global carbon footprint overall.
If we would take the decision to switch 40% of the world’s agricultural crop to hemp over the next five years this would have a positive fundamental impact to local economies and environments, therefore contributing to the global community.
However industrial hemp is known to be one of the toughest agricultural crops in the world to deal with, standing over 12 feet tall with natural fibres that can be as strong as steel and can cause real problems for modern machinery. To harvest and process this crop correctly you need a lot of heavy-duty machinery and infrastructure and this is still certainly lacking in the UK and Ireland. This is one area that has really held the whole industry back; support for infrastructure and clearer regulations is required as most countries tend to make their own legislative changes on industrial hemp.
Legislative guidelines require that owing to hemp’s relationship to the cannabis plant, industrial hemp must be below 0.2% THC when tested in the field. However, regulations state that not one milligram of THC or any other controlled substance may be found in the finished product. We are heavily regulated in this industry by government bodies such as the HPRA, FSAI, HSE and the Department of Agriculture and of course Celtic Wind products comply with all EU and US legislation.
Celtic Wind have had to create their own infrastructure, as there are limitations on harvesting hemp seed. We only have eight hours from when we start to harvest before the seed would spoil and turn rancid which means Celtic Wind only harvest approximately 100 km from the facility to ensure we can protect and stabilise the crop within this time limit – harvest to storage within eight hours.
This also allows for full traceability; if you pick up a Celtic Wind product and read the batch number on the side of the bottle it will tell you the day that crop was sown, the date it was harvested and every station in the processing facility that it passed through on its way to the shelf.
Celtic Wind carries out all its processing and operations in Ireland and Northern Ireland where it employs a team of 18 and the company has also started employing personnel in the UK and the US.
At Celtic Wind even though we work with an ancient crop we embrace modern technology in order to help us make the most out of hemp. We use drone technology to take readings from the crop to inform and indicate yield, detect disease and provide solutions for this.
We are pushing the boundaries in agri-science and biotechnologies with our crop monitoring system especially for hemp and new product development areas. All of this combined gives Celtic Wind the ability to produce a wide range of products for different industries. We have just extended our ingestible range with three new capsule products called Synergy, added a pet care range and coming soon is the Natural Skincare range, again 100% Irish, fully natural and traceable. Further applications of the raw materials will include eco-friendly building materials such as natural fibre insulation and structure-forming wood core products for the sustainable building industry.
Hemp really is an amazing plant and has an amazing future in this country. It’s fully sustainable. Has the ability to provide food, clothing and shelter. It’s the way forward for business and industry alike and we at Celtic Wind aim to be leading this change here in Ireland, and beyond.
CEO & Founder
Celtic Wind Crops
+ 353 1 678 0804
This article will appear in the first issue of Medical Cannabis Network which will be out in January. Click here to subscribe.