Last week (22.8. – 27.8.), the World Hemp Congress took place in Slovenia. And even though I couldn `t make it there this year (hopefully next year!! 🙂 ) – thanks to the world wide web and social media we can get a pretty good impression on what was happening there – for instance via its own YouTube channel!
Besides various scientific talks in areas such as hemp harvesting, processing technology innovation, food and medical application, the Slovenien hemp co-operative Konopko – which I got the chance to meet at the International Conference of the European Industrial Hemp Association in May in Cologne – showed some very impressive hemp clothing designs. And contrary to the potato bag image which people usually associate with hemp clothes, the designs look modern, sexy …. and well-suited for independent, sustainability-minded women.
Right in the middle of the picture below, you can see the man who is resonsible for holding everything together – David Gersak – the president of the co-operative, next to Elvisa Hasić, who is representing the producers, and Urša Orehek on the far right, who is representing the processors in the co-operative.
The name Konopko derives from the Slovenian word konoplja for hemp. According to their interesting websie, Konopko pursues 10 long-term objectives, which are:
- General promotion of industrial hemp in Slovenia and cooperative idea.
- The acquisition and development of technical equipment for the production and processing of hemp (sharing resources)
- Linking urban centers to rural areas (direct contact – farmer – cooperative – buyer)
- Establishment of operational units cooperatives in rural areas in Slovenia (buying crop, processing, advice to farmers)
- Establishing a cooperative retail units in major cities in Slovenia (sales, consulting, training customers)
- Setting up a Slovenian Hemp Center (workshops, training, education, school field trips …)
- Organization of events on the topic of industrial hemp (workshops, lectures …)
- Development of new products from industrial hemp (in conjunction with universities, institutes, innovators, researchers and industry).
- Generating new jobs in urban areas and rural areas
- Promoting the cultivation of industrial hemp – revitalization of contaminated soil using industrial hemp (fitoremidiation), rehabilitation of agricultural land under intensive use of pesticides, the cultivation of hemp in the area with various restrictions (Natura 2000, water protected areas).
But hemp clothes are by far not the only area of interest of Konopko. Currently, the co-operative is one of the most promising finalists of the Climate KIC Climate Launchpad Competition where they are presenting their idea of a 100% biodegradable recyclable biogranulate from hemp. With the final in Amsterdam only 2 days away from now (4 September) we can stay excited for the the result!
All images are used by courtesy of Konopko.