Chanvra is the French word for Cannabis
Cannabis is a fiber crop that has been grown abundantly throughout agricultural history. Known as humanity's oldest agriculturally domesticated crop, Cannabis is perhaps the most versatile crop on the planet, and can be used to make Hemp for numerous applications ranging from construction, horticulture, textiles, paper making, industrial composites, food & medicine, and so much more.
Cannabis Bast Fiber
Bast Fibers are the outer layer of the cannabis stem, and historically were the most utilized part of the plant. During it's growing cycle, this outer layer of the stem acts as a vapor barrier, preventing excess moisture from entering the core of the plant. These natural moisture repelling properties are useful after the fibers have been harvested, and is the reason cannabis fibers have been the most highly utilized fiber throughout the history of mankind. It is well known that the word canvas is actually derived from the cannabis, because up until the 20th century, almost all sails and ropes for ships have been made with cannabis hemp bast fiber. Historically, most paper has also been made with hemp fiber (including the Declaration of Independence.) Clothing made from hemp bast fibers are renowned to this day for their strength and durability, as well as their ability to repel moisture. Today, cannabis bast fibers are being incorporated into many high-tech applications. including the automotive and renewable energy sectors.
Cannabis Core Fiber (Hemp Hurd)
Hemp hurd is the inner core of the Cannabis stem. As a highly absorbent material, hurd fibers function as the opposite of bast fibers. While bast fibers repel moisture, the inner core of the plant functions as a hyper absorbent. This proves to be an advantageous balance in the plant's growing cycle, and is one of the primary reasons for the resiliency of the Cannabis plant. This also works to our advantage when we utilize these materials. We can produce both moisture repellent and moisture absorbent materials from the same plant!
For most of history, core material has been more difficult to efficiently process than bast fibers. Recent advances in decortication technology, pioneered by the French company La Chanvriere De L'Aube, have made this valuable material more widely available, resulting in new breakthroughs.
One of the most far-reaching developments for hemp hurd is in the construction industry. Hemp hurd can be mixed with hydrated lime to produce Hemp Lime, or hempcrete, a highly insulative material that can be used to make walls, like concrete, and also insulate floors and ceilings. The breathable nature of a Hemp Lime wall system creates a healthy indoor environment that regulates humidity, temperature, and acoustics. Hemp Lime is one of the few natural building materials that can be scaled commercially.
The earliest known materials made from Cannabis fiber date back to about 25,000 BC. After the agricultural revolution, cannabis became humanity's most widely utilized domesticated crop. Cannabis played a fundamental role in the American economy during its early years in the 18th & 19th centuries. Some laws actually required farmers to grow Cannabis. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were outspoken proponents of cannabis cultivation. Mr. Jefferson in particular was instrumental in the development of machinery that could efficiently separate the bast fibers from the woody core (decortication). This was a technological breakthrough that should have launched a bioeconomic revolution, but the progression was interrupted. In the early 20th century, during the Great Depression and shortly after the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank, Cannabis cultivation was outlawed to make way for competing synthetic and oil based interests. This was a move that dramatically shaped the development of the American economy throughout the 20th century, allowing for the growth of a massive fossil fuel industry. Mr. Jefferson certainly would not have approved of this direction.
Fortunately, not all was lost. Though the progression of the American Cannabis industry was halted, France would continue its long-time tradition of farming hemp. French president Charles de Gaulle was one of the few world leaders to resist the Cannabis prohibition agenda being pushed by the synthetic and oil based interests after the war. This ultimately culminated in the pioneering work led by our farmers, who brought the virtues of hemp fibers to the modern world. Our farmers took the concept of Mr. Jefferson's decortication machinery to the next level, developing a whole new range of applications for hemp fibers, particularly hemp hurd for construction. We think of our farmers Giants, upon who's back we all stand, as the brightest hope for sustainable development.