Business, Community

Hemp heroine’s soil surprise

Vineyard manager Kirsty Harkness has been using hemp to improve soil quality. Photo: Supplied.

Emily Marten

 

A former nurse experimenting with hemp to boost vineyard soil quality has uncovered an unlikely bonus – skincare.

Marlborough vineyard manager and former nurse Kirsty Harkness was looking at ways to breathe new life into overworked soil.

Kirsty Harkness, Marlborough vineyard manager and former nurse co-founded cosmetic brand Hark & Zander after first planting hemp three years ago in a bid to revitalise overworked soil.

But what she didn’t expect was that it wouldn’t only be the soil that could reap the benefits of hemp:

It was an exciting discovery, she says.

“It wasn’t until I looked at hemp as not only a way of breathing life back into the soil but also as a potential secondary revenue source that I really got excited.

“Once we were confident the hemp wouldn’t take nutrients or moisture from the vines, we began looking at the potential benefits of hemp for the body as well,” she says.

Together with business partner Gabrielle Zander, an essential oil blending specialist, the duo founded cosmetics brand Hark & Zander.

The pair are combining hemp oil with a mix of their own essential oils.

Produced and made in New Zealand with the help of a team in Wanganui, the skincare range is sourced from local ingredients.

The fast-growing hemp industry could bring in a huge $2bn to New Zealand’s export economy.

But first hemp needs to ditch its negative associations with recreational cannabis, says Kirsty.

“Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species but it is grown for industrial uses and contains negligible amounts of the psychoactive compound THC.

“For New Zealand to take advantage of the billion-dollar export potential of hemp, we are going to need to grow mainstream acceptance of a product which was first used for industrial purposes thousands of years ago,” she says.

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