In the heart of rural Ireland, as you would expect, fields of lush green crops are seen over the hills and for miles across the land. However, these are not the usual crop that you would see growing in this country. These are luscious hemp crops. The crops grown from seed by Greenheart CBD which is an Irish company owned by Paul Walsh and Mark Canavan. These two entrepreneurs came together through their vision.
Their vision is to transform rural Ireland by bringing the finest Irish grown and manufactured CBD cannabidiol products from seed to shelf in their native country to the European market.
They are both passionate about Ireland’s rural community and what cannabidiol and hemp can do for the market. By transforming rural Ireland from a traditional industry of meat and dairy products to a more sustainable and profitable mass hemp production industry, the economy will thrive.
They believe with the farming challenges currently being seen in the agricultural industry will transform Ireland’s rural communities, bringing more jobs back into the economy, keeping young farmers on their family land and providing a stable quality product that can be brought to the marketplace.
Did you know that Greenheart CBD is Partners with Medical Cannabis Network? Find out more about the Irish owned company bringing the finest Irish grown and manufactured CBD products to the market.
How did the team behind Greenheart CBD step into this market?
Greenheart CBD stepped into the market through a joining of interests through their two co-founders. Walsh has a passion for a greener future involving new methods of farming and introducing more profitable and sustainable crops for the farmers. Canavan has a keen interest in creating new business and has always been interested in the CBD and wellness sectors due to having a positive experience with CBD products himself.
As two close friends they bound their interests and expertise and began to investigate CBD products, found the most effective extraction methods and began working a strategy on getting their product to market.
Walsh brings his warm and energetic personality to the Greenheart team. For a number of years, he has been embedded in the organic farming community. He trained as a Chef and food is one of his many passions. Seeing the waste from the food industry motivated Walsh to set up a company which promoted locally produced food with minimal waste.
The company provided support to all food producers to innovate their businesses and educate them on how to effectively use their resources to grow and supply more fresh food to local communities. His extensive community volunteerism and his wide network of leaders in the sustainable industries and innovative industries (blockchain, crypto currencies) make him well suited to the growing issues in today’s world.
Canavan is an accredited businessman coming from a family of entrepreneurs. He has been involved in many ventures from catering to retail. He successfully operates a nationwide vending machine company with a distribution network which is headquartered at his family base in Curragha, Ashbourne. Canavan has also personally experienced the benefits of CBD oil and has a great interest in health and wellbeing and natural remedies that aid the body and through his positive personal experience decided to embark on this project.
As personal friends for several years, the two entrepreneurs decided to set up the business as they saw a gap in the market. In 2018, they applied their expertise from experience to the cultivation of hemp as a pilot base to test the growing and processing of the product.
Since then they have grown their team who have engineering, supply chain and manufacturing experience and have since expanded their operation to 100 acres under the name of Greenheart CBD. The team is expanding quickly and has a forecast to increase production in the coming year as they have access to another 1000 acres. To meet the skyrocketing demand for hemp-based products, Greenheart CBD has invested in innovative extraction technologies and solutions to produce at the highest quality and to drive significant value for shareholders.
New to the market, Greenheart CBD will be focusing on the wholesale supply of high-quality CBD oil into worldwide markets, Greenheart CBD is well-positioned to become a significant market player. Canavan said: “We are taking our products right through the chain from seed to shelf so our consumers can be sure that of the finest quality tested and officially approved CBD oil.”
Government legislation in Ireland
Governments in Ireland and the UK have issued climate action plans. Ireland is one of the worst carbon emission offenders and is facing fines of more than €250m for missing 2020 targets on reducing emissions and adopting renewable energy. Emissions from agriculture accounts for 33% of Ireland’s carbon footprint.
Bringing hemp to market could fit into this broader strategy by helping the environment, according to research, hemp can absorb radiation, heavy metals, other toxins, and carbon dioxide. In fact, reports noted that farmers in Apulia, a region in Italy, used hemp to protect against a toxin that has ruined their pasture. Another important thing to consider; because hemp regenerates the soil, it allows for the immediate planting of food crops, making it very ‘farmer friendly.’
In the 1940’s, Henry Ford built a car made from hemp. It even featured hemp plastic panels that were ten times stronger than steel. This just goes to show that hemp can also replace plastics and can be used as a strong material for cars and even buildings. What’s more, hemp can even be used to produce biodiesel. A 2009 study of the University of Connecticut’s Biofuel Consortium has found that hemp seed oil can produce high efficiency biodiesel.
In Ireland, cannabis or hemp may be grown as a food product under the same conditions as EU regulations. Under EU regulations plants containing CBD may be grown as long as their THC content (the psychoactive component) is less than 0.2%. The volume of hemp production is still low in Ireland and therefore is a great market to get into. A total of 77 licences have been issued so far this year – an increase from 24 in all of 2018. A total of 373 ha is accounted for in the issued licences for hemp cultivation in 2019, according to a representative from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). Ireland is on the edge of Europe and the opportunity is immense. We would urge the Irish government to embrace this industry.
Finola is the seed used by Greenheart CBD which is on the official list of approved hemp varieties in Europe. In infancy, the plant growth is slow. After four weeks of being planted, the stalk can grow up to one foot per week. The plant is so vigorous, it would surpass any weed. The Finola seed needs to be harvested after 90 days and then there is approximately three weeks between harvesting.
At the end of August and September, Greenheart CBD were able to harvest the field for seed. With the nature of the flower, not all of the seed is produced at the same time. Harvesting was completed with a normal combine harvester, a stripper and handpicked to experiment with finding the best method for the best quality CBD oil. This is where the tough work starts as the plant needs to be dried in a short period of time.
Walsh said “In order to get the harvest from the field to the production facility to be processed, it needs to be dried. Our crops are growing fantastically this year and we are trying several methods for drying with different farmers to work out the most effective way while preserving the quality of the plant in the process.
Some of our crops will be hung dried whilst others will be dried using drying machinery with lab reports being done on all material to give us reliable data in order to decide which option is most effective. It is hard, tough work in the Irish climate. It is all worth it though to be able to achieve our vision.
Our end goal is to provide the consumer with the finest Irish organic grown Homogenised CBD oil with full traceability, to the patch of land that the plants were grown on; while helping farmers to get involved in this profitable and sustainable industry.”
Educating upcoming hemp farmers
Greenheart CBD has a keen interest in helping farmers to grow and understand the crop, they feel that with their offerings to farmers that they can help them to diversify and increase their incomes against the raising of cattle which is a declining market and other low income crops. The hemp plant can be grown for several purposes. The highest value stream from the crop is the cannabinoid. The seed, the flower and the fibre can also generate an income.
Canavan said: “We have spent years researching this industry. Now is the time for our rural communities and our government to back this initiative. We have an open window of opportunity. We plan to educate farmers on how they can grow this product step by step.
This can be a value-added crop and several techniques that can be shown to them to make it easier and to ensure that they are more successful. Once people see that this industry is profitable and the correct systems and machinery are available, we can lead the way. Several extraction methods have been investigated thoroughly and we have found the solution in order to create the most effective CBD products for the end consumer homogenised cold-press extraction methods.”
There is a significant demand for hemp from farmers including animal nutrition Walsh continued: “The oil that we are trading is a huge commodity to Irish farmers in the form of animal nutrition, this by-product or otherwise called cake (cake is the residue product after the seed has been pressed for oil) is thought to be extremely beneficial for the animals with its high protein and healthy fat offering. While animal feed may not be the most lucrative market for hemp, we think this could be a huge opportunity for the livestock to be in better shape and to be more premium quality meat as a result of us supplying this cake by-product as an animal feed.”
Cold press extraction process
In March 2019, the adventure expanded. The team procured the equipment to set up a patented cold press processing facility in the east of Ireland. Phase one will be able to produce and is also expected to clear regulatory approvals and become operational, which is an incredible milestone. The plan is to establish another processing facility in the west of Ireland to cater for requirements there. Walsh and Canavan’s aim is to help farmers produce the finest organic hemp crops and process the material through cold press extraction machinery creating the highest quality homogenised CBD oil in the most natural way possible.
There are a multitude of ways and methods to extract CBD oil. They all have positives and negatives depending on what the expectation is on the final product. Some methods use chemical solvents to extract oils and other methods would use high temperatures to extract the oils. Based on favourability for Greenheart CBD, cold pressing was the preferred route to take. This is a popular method which involves crushing the plant matter (seed, leaves, stems, and flowers) which allows the extraction of usable oil. The percentage of oil is higher than other methods that we have tested.
The cold-pressing process, as the name suggests is done through low temperatures. The plant material is fed into the basin of the machine and a rotating screw mechanism crushes the plant material and pushes it forcefully through the press, extracting the oil. The oil is then collected at the bottom of the cylinder. With the cold press procedure comes the fact that as the plant material is not heated excessively, it is not depleted as much as the hotter extraction methods. The hotter the matter is the softer it becomes, and the more oil can be extracted from it. However, quantity is not quality. The cold press system draws a quality extract overall. Cold pressed oils that have been used in this method of extraction are seen to taste better and have a better aroma.
Greenheart CBD’s engineering team has assessed and reviewed the cold pressed extraction machines and have made significant modifications, to increase the productivity of processing. This has now been patented and this technology is now available from Greenheart CBD to the market. There have been several companies approaching us for partnerships for our manufacturing capability, who have several clients already waiting to buy the product in bulk once we commence production.
Both Walsh and Canavan have investigated the latest technology to get the best for their sales offering. Greenheart CBD is working on new projects in order to get the best quality from their plants including a beta test for a new technology being developed by a partner company. The beta test will run drone plant tracking software and seed to sale software applications and will take place at Greenheart CBD’s hemp growing facility in Ireland.
This software development company uses artificial technology to track plant health. They are developing systems to track plant health using Artificial Intelligence, payment solutions, compliance management and government auditing software to help cultivators, manufacturers and processors understand fully the condition of produce and traceability.
“We are effectively feminising our land” Walsh explains. “There are a number of software drones which are powered up and positioned strategically overhead the field in different areas. By using this technology, the software drones allow us to detect several things. The first element it detects is the health of the crop which is the main element for us as we can catch any health issues faster than ever. We are operating in an organic environment which means no sprays or chemical fertilisers are used on our fields.”
“Before the field was ploughed, we applied organic fertiliser to the ground to ensure we had the best growth environment for the seed. Health issues are minimal however this technology will be able to alert us, if we do see any issues. Secondly, we need to identify the male crop in the field. We are now more easily able to identify the male plants as the drone technology can survey the area which allows us to detect the male plants. By removing the male hemp plant, this increases production in the overall crop. This is a giant market opportunity” he concluded.
The other step forward in innovation is the company will be set up as the first Irish cannabis blockchain company to use cryptocurrency to enable buyers to use cryptocurrency to buy CBD oil from their retail outlet once launched. Greenheart CBD will be the first backing partner for a large cannabis chain blockchain member in the coming months.
Developing a year-round solution
In order to enhance productivity all year round, Greenheart’s plan is to ultimately produce indoor farms. Paul Walsh said: “As part of our business plan, we aim to focus our attention on hemp that is grown in large greenhouse facilities. This is the obvious way to increase throughput all year round. In the last few months, several companies have approached us with regard to partnering with them on a yearly basis. They have huge greenhouse facilities, and the hemp that is grown will require drying and cold pressed extraction.”
“We have been approached by an Irish company that has access to large scale greenhouses. They have seen our processing facilities and our quality process, and we are hoping to work together on a venture. This is excellent news for Greenheart CBD, and we are excited about the future as it ties back to our vision of creating a sustainable Ireland. Greenheart CBD has partnered up with a team that has expertise on indoor greenhouse growing which would cover our production all year round” he continued.