Reva Dougherty purchases Andrew Bader's hemp earrings at a hemp store in Great Bend, Kansas.

Hemp enthusiasts, growers and producers from across the US gathered for the second annual open house at South Bend Industrial Hemp in Great Bend on Friday evening. South Bend not only grows commercial industrial hemp without THC for CBD oil, they also grow fiber crops. They also have a facility for decorating. This is one of the few in the US

Hemp fiber is used to weave baskets, make prostheses, and sunglass frames and houses.

While Great Bend’s Reva Dougherty is enthusiastic about the possibilities hemp can offer farmers, she was drawn to the aesthetics of the product during the open house. She purchased several sets of Hemp3D’s hemp fiber earrings during the event.

Connected:The first industrial hemp fiber processing facility opens in Kansas in Great Bend

“We saw what they (South Bend Industrial Hemp) were working on from the start,” she said. “They are trying to make it better for farmers to find an alternative crop.”

Hemp concrete

Several manufacturers of hemp concrete, from beginners to longstanding builders and growers, came together to exchange ideas. Hempcrete is a bio-composite made from the inner woody core of the hemp plant, mixed with a lime-based binder, according to American Lime Technology.

Corey Hughes from California, who runs Hemp Builders USA and Pass it Forward – a not-for-profit organization for workers in Los Angeles – has been using the product for seven years. Hemp farmers recently built a small house and shed using a binder with hemp insulation. His group builds greenhouses, barns and fireplaces.

Hughes said he was ready to use the Great Bend facility.

“We’re going to distribute (our product) here,” he said.

Because the material is both pest-free and fire-resistant, hemp concrete is becoming increasingly popular.

To build from this product in Kansas, contractors must obtain permission from a firefighter. Conrad McAnany, who works for asphalt in Kansas City, begins researching hemp concrete. He hopes this research will demonstrate the viability of this product.

More:Will hemp be a boon for farmers? Kansas reports say it’s too early to tell

Grow Missouri Hemp from southern Missouri hopes to begin construction in southeast Kansas soon. Another company, the Colorado-based Hemp Building Company, plans to build in western Kansas.

Hemp3D demonstrates how they make a vase during the South Bend Industrial Hemp Open House on July 9th in Great Bend, Kansas.

Hemp sunglasses and vases and

Other vendors brought baskets, sunglasses and coasters made from the fiber. Andrew Bader and Jack Schueth of Hemp3D in Nebraska use hemp fiber to make sunglasses frames, earrings and vases. Since the plant needs little water and little fertilizer to grow, Bader became interested in the cultivated plant a few years ago.

“I was looking for an alternative crop,” said Bader. “I hate having all of your eggs in one basket. Hemp is all-encompassing.”

Soon Bader was not only growing industrial hemp on his farm alongside soybeans and corn, but also working with Schueth, buying 3-D filaments from North Dakota, and creating 3-D designs from the fiber. Schueth said they are the only manufacturers in the US making this 3D biodegradable product.

More:“Hit your head against the wall for 30 years”: Some farmers in Kansas jumped in and out of the hemp market.

“We use the core of the system,” says Schueth. “It biodegrades once it’s put in the ground. It’s good for your life until you throw it away.”

In addition to sunglasses, Hemp Vision makes earrings, filigree pyramids and coasters from the fiber.

Hemp3D's Jack Schueth speaks to a customer during the South Bend Industrial Hemp Open House in Great Bend, Kansas.

South Bend brings people together through education

In 2018, brothers Aaron and Richard Baldwin, fourth generation farmers, were looking for a new harvest. Melissa, who helps grow the industrial hemp, is a researcher. The three native Kansans enjoy educating the community about hemp.

“We started chasing this vision in 2018 and slowly watched it come true,” said Melissa Baldwin. “This is a great event with so many wonderful people.”