By Brian Houlihan | HempToday — Declan Darcy has been working with hemp for years but only took his first entrepreneurial steps 12 months ago with the establishment of the Hemp Kitchen.
The kitchen is located below The Hemp Company (THC) on Capel Street in Ireland’s capital city of Dublin. THC is a family-owned business established by industry veteran James (Jim) McDonald in 1999 and Darcy and McDonald are partners on this latest venture. Co-located with the Hemp Kitchen is the Dublin Hemp Museum, which McDonald opened over 5 years ago.
Interest in hemp building
Before opening the kitchen, Darcy worked as a carpenter for a number of years and his early experiences in the Irish hemp industry were working as a hemp builder.
“In 2013 Jim asked me to build an extension out of hempcrete for his house in Thurles Co. Tipperary,” Darcy said. At the time, Darcy knew little about building with hemp but was keen to be part of the project. This led him to engage in widespread research on the topic during which he read the landmark book “Building with Hemp” by legendary natural builder Steve Allin of the International Hemp Building Association (IHBA).
Darcy also visited a Mr. Richard Freeman who at the time had built three hempcrete houses on his farm. This research helped Darcy complete his first hempcrete structure and since then he has assisted on two new builds and four retrofit projects across Ireland. While these days the Hemp Kitchen is his main priority, Darcy is still happy to occasionally get his hands dirty on hemp builds.
Answer to many problems
“In this day and age when it is crucial that we use more sustainable and energy efficient construction methods and materials,” Darcy said. “I see hemp building materials being an answer to many of the problems we face. It’s a necessity that we incorporate hemp more and more into the construction industry.”
But these days Darcy’s fascination has turned more sharply to hemp food. From a young age, Darcy was a keen cook who took an interest in whole foods and the healthier side of eating; this interest led him to train as a raw vegan chef in 2016 and 2017.
Passion for hemp food
“As much as I love the carpentry work. I always felt drawn to doing something in the nutrition business and wanted the chance to share the things I had learned,” Darcy said. Thus when he got the opportunity to open the Hemp Kitchen with McDonald he jumped at the chance.
“Hemp should be, in some form or another in everybody’s diet,” said Darcy, who adds it’s important to use local organic ingredients in the kitchen. The organic produce supplied by Kama Hemp is incorporated into a number of his recipes.
The latest addition to the menu is a vegan, CBD-infused chocolate bar which is made in Ireland. Darcy said hemp milk is his best seller, followed by a coffee blend.
Irish Hemp Cooperative
Alongside completing a number of food and business training courses Darcy has attended hemp events across Europe to learn more and to share his expertise.
In May of this year, he gave a presentation at HempToday’s Food, Health and Beauty summit, and he recently joined the board of the Irish Hemp Cooperative, a relatively new group working to positively influence the industry.
As for the health of the Irish hemp industry, Darcy said there’s a lot of focus on CBD in Ireland now. “But I believe the agronomy part of the hemp industry is what will benefit the economic, environmental and social issues in Ireland the most, especially for rural Ireland.”