Here, we learn how about a different kind of green crop that grows in Ireland and the journey of that from seed to shelf as part of the Greenheart CBD story
In the heart of rural Ireland, a different kind of green crop can be seen growing in the fields. This is a relatively new sight as hemp has only just been legalised to grow on the ‘Emerald Isle’ in the last number of years. At the start of 2019, two enthusiastic entrepreneurs had a vision, and from there, they embarked on their journey into the new ‘up and coming’ industry.
Greenheart CBD Ltd. is an Irish owned company by Paul Walsh and Mark Canavan. These two young entrepreneurs came together through a vision, planning to bring the finest Irish grown and manufactured CBD products from ‘seed to shelf’ to not only their native country but also to the international market. They are both passionate about Ireland’s rural community and what cannabidiol and hemp can do for the economy. They believe with the farming challenges currently being seen in the agricultural industry, a more sustainable and profitable industry like mass hemp production 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 multiple markets.
Greenheart CBD stepped into the market through a joining of interests between its two co-founders. Paul has always had a passion for a greener future involving new methods of farming and introducing more profitable and sustainable crops for the farmers. While Mark has a keen interest in creating new businesses and has always been interested in the CBD and wellness sectors from having a positive experience with CBD products himself. The pair bound their interests and expertise together and began to investigate CBD products, the most effective extraction methods and began working a strategy on getting their product to the market.
As personal friends for years, the two entrepreneurs decided to set up ‘Greenheart CBD Ltd.’ as they saw the big gap in the market. In spring 2019, they jumped straight into the cultivation of hemp as a pilot base to test out the growing and the processing of the product. During this time they also took the opportunity to test out the combination of farming, mixed with technology for traceability in the form of ‘Artificial Intelligence Drones’. This enables them to keep track of plant health and monitor the different stages of growth. They invested in innovative extraction technologies and have since expanded their operation to a fully traceable ‘seed to shelf’ company which has not only been featured on the national television programme, RTE’s ‘Ear to the Ground’, but also won the pair a place in Ireland’s ‘Irish Independent’ top 30 companies under 30 years of age. New to the market, Greenheart CBD is well-positioned to become a significant player within the space: “We are taking our products right through the chain from ‘Seed to Self’ using Drones combined with AI so our consumers can be sure that they are being provided the finest quality, tested and officially approved CBD oil with full traceability.”
In May 2019, the team’s crop was finally in the ground and their journey truly began. Finola is the seed used by Greenheart CBD and is on the official list of approved hemp varieties that can be grown in Europe. During the infancy stage of this plant, the growth is slow. After about four weeks of being planted, the stalk can reach up to one foot per week. The Finola seed needs 90 days to grow and then there is approximately a three-week window for harvest.
During this time, the team was kept busy, setting up their facility to regulatory standards and researching and investing in new innovative extraction technologies.
Paul and Mark’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 of extracting CBD oil. 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 route they preferred to take because it was chemical free, completely natural and protected the quality of the plant most. This is a popular method which involves crushing the plant matter (seed, leaves, stems, and flowers) which allows the CBD oil to be extracted from the plant.
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. But 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 is working on some 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 application and will take place at the Greenheart CBD 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 (AI), 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,” Paul 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 plant in the field. We are now more easily able to identify the male plants as the drone technology can survey the area which lets us detect the male plants. By removing the male hemp plant, this increases production in the overall crop. This is a giant market opportunity.”
At the end of August, Greenheart CBD was able to begin their harvest. Harvesting was completed in a variety of ways with a normal combine harvester, a stripper and also hand-picked, to experiment which method would be best for them. After the plant was harvested, it was then dried before it was taken to the Greenheart facility. “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 good data to decide which option is most effective. It is hard, tough work in the Irish climate, but it is all worth it 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.”
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.
Mark 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 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. Paul explained: “The oil that we are trading is a huge commodity to Irish farmers in the form of animal nutrition, this bi-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 by us supplying this cake bi-product as an animal feed.
Using our partners’ seed to sale software application gives us full visibility and lets us understand fully the condition of our hemp crop and provides full traceability from the field through to point of sale. The compliance software and payment solution offering that will record all details and gives us and our clients the ability to audit our process as well as provide transparency, offering full traceability.
These are some of the items that set us apart and will help drive the company forward. Greenheart CBD is really excited about the future.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
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