For Women’s History Month we want to take some time to celebrate some women who have made significant contributions to the Australian Hemp and Cannabis Industries.
When putting together the first installation in the series, we had the incredible opportunity to interview Klara from the Australian Hemp Masonry Company about her experience, career, and vision for the Australian Hemp Industry.
Klara Is a researcher and pioneer in the Australian Hemp Industry who has been working in the Hemp industry for 22 years. She initially became interested in Hemp through her work with Greening Australia’s Billion Trees Project. Klara was heavily involved in the Hemp varietal trials in 1999 that studied how Hemp grew in Australian conditions. Then, in 2000, she started looking into Hemp as a building material and founded the Australian Hemp Masonry Company.
Klara’s journey in the Australian Hemp industry has been remarkable, and we undoubtedly consider her a ‘pioneer’ of the Australian Hemp Industry. If you haven’t heard of her work over the last 22 years, it’s our absolute pleasure to introduce you!
Coming from a family that was somewhat involved in the construction industry, Klara saw the significant issues first hand. The number of trees cut down and the mounting carbon crisis that followed it… but she also saw a solution.
The story begins with her working as the Labour Market Co-ordinator with Greening Australia on the Billion Trees campaign – a project intended to combat both deforestation and the creeping issue of greenhouse gas emissions.
After learning more about greenhouse gas emissions, Klara became greatly interested in Hemp due to its ability to manage carbon through carbon sequestration. Equipped with a whole new passion, Klara founded the Australian Hemp Masonry Company in 1999. She went on to profoundly investigate the potential for building materials made with Hemp from that point onwards.
Through the Australian Hemp Masonry Company, Klara has offered hundreds of Australians the opportunity to learn about and build with Hemp. And believe it or not, it’s not limited to just construction professionals! Hempcrete training programs are available to anybody, and you don’t necessarily need the experience to work with them. One of the most incredible gems that Klara mentioned was that Hemp gives the everyday person the ability to build their own home. Australian Hemp Masonry has seen Hemp Homes built with engineers, builders, architects, and entirely functional houses built by single women with a couple of brothers! That’s right; these training sessions are running now – regardless of in which state you live.
Klara sees the Australian Hemp Industry growing steadily over the next 5-10 years and will continue to offer training sessions for homebuilders interested in Hempcrete – whether for professional or personal use. She also noted that for the Australian Hemp Industry to thrive, we much more investment in infrastructure – and that takes money.
There have been quite a few ‘false starts’ for the Australian Hemp Industry, which saw farmers plant crops that they couldn’t process locally. There are also high environmental costs for transporting Hemp from one state to another for processing. For commercial-scale Hemp farming to be viable in Australia, we need not one but a couple of processing facilities in each state.
Since the Hemp varietal trial that Klara participated in through 1999-2000, there has been a lack of movement in the fibre industry. She noted that most of the interest is in low-THC flower for medicine (CBD) and Hemp Seed – and reasonably so! The thing is that when these products are harvested, the fibre and hurd can still be used for things like housing and clothing. If we start building Homes with these byproducts of Hemp, we’re going to be fighting the earth’s carbon crisis one wall at a time.
Throughout her career, Klara has been involved in a significant number of studies and projects revolving around environmental management – in particular, the management of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Hemp showed a great deal of promise in these areas, which resulted in Klara’s dedication to the cause.
For farmers who want to grow Hemp in Australia, Klara recommends that your top priorities should be
With over 200 houses now built through the Australian Hemp Masonry company and more than 100 builders trained to work with Hemp, it’s safe to say that Klara is a highly influential contributor to this space.
What an incredible woman!