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Montana Farmer Building “Hempcrete” House
Kim Phillips gained national recognition in 2018 for winning the right to irrigate her hemp crop with federally-sourced water. Today, the Montana hemp farmer is making headlines for building a home entirely out of hemp fiber.
Hemp is an eco-friendly building material that repels water, making it naturally mold-resistant and able to hold up against the elements. “Hempcrete” is made by mixing the plant’s tough, woody interior (known as the hurd) with a mix of water and lime.
Phillips purchased a century-old home in Butte, Mont., in 2017. She stripped it down to the studs before starting the reconstruction process.
Her goal throughout the project was to avoid buying outside building materials. Today, the back and south walls of her home are made from hempcrete 16 in. thick, which provides ample insulation against Montana weather.
Not all hemp works for construction, as different varieties vary in overall strength. Likewise, the processing method makes an impact. Phillips dedicated months of research to developing an eco-friendly way to separate hemp fibers from the hurd without harsh chemicals. She believes her discovery has widespread appeal and is working to advocate for it as a mainstream building material.
“I love the natural feel of houses made from hempcrete,” she says. “Even though my house is not yet complete, I’m currently living in it while I finish the renovation. I have installed radiant floor heat which keeps the temperature throughout more consistent and reduces heating costs. I think knowing it continues to absorb and store C02 into the walls is one of the best things.”
Even so, she acknowledges that challenges remain for building with hemp. Says Phillips, “Sourcing hemp hurd of the quality for building is still difficult; acquiring the knowledge for the best type of build isn’t easy. It took me nearly a year to source my hemp due to the government denying me the ability to water my hemp and therefore killing my crop in 2017.”
Today, Phillips manages Plan-It Hemp, an advocacy group working to promote the use of industrial hemp in environmentally-responsible ways. She continues to work on her home and remains optimistic about hempcrete’s potential for construction projects.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kim Phillips, Plan-It Hemp, Helena, Mont. (ph 406-221-6075; Kim@plan-ithemp.com; www.plan-ithemp.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5