My Hemp House
Home South Africa|September 2020
My Hemp House
Gill Staniland’s getaway spot reflects her commitment to living a green lifestyle.
Maryke Roberts
Her colleagues call her the “plastic police” but she likes to refer to herself as a green warrior.

Because Gill Staniland of Baarskeerdersbos believes that one should tread lightly on Mother Earth, even when it comes to your place of residence. So three years ago, she decided to build a hemp house on a 7ha plot of land that she had already acquired in 2014.

And it’s not just the building method that’s ‘green’; thanks to water tanks, solar panels and gas, this little hideaway is completely independent of municipal services.

“My total municipal bill is just R150 a month as I only have to pay inheritance tax,” Gill explains.

Even though her home is tiny, it creates a big impression set against the gorgeous backdrop of its natural surroundings.

An eco journey

Gill’s interest in hemp construction began at a water conservation conference in 2011. Tony Budden, co-owner of the company Hemporium which manufactures and distributes hemp products in South Africa, gave a talk on the benefits and sustainability of industrial hemp – and this provided the impetus for Gill to begin her eco journey.

With its vast open spaces and sense of tranquillity, Baardskeerdersbos was the perfect locality for Gill. She loves the Overberg and drove around weekend after weekend, looking for the ideal spot close to Cape Town.

“I love gardening and there is more than enough space here to create a lovely vegetable garden,” says Gill. “I have already started playing around with the idea of creating a 400m2 vegetable garden – similar to the Oranjezicht City Farm in Cape Town.”

But Gill says it’s important to her that most of the property should still be covered in natural fynbos. “If I do create a veggie garden, it must have an automatic drip irrigation system that works with solar power.” She is already developing such a system.

THE BENEFITS OF HEMP CONSTRUCTION

“The use of hemp in the construction industry has great job creation potential and reduces the carbon footprint of this industry as a whole,” says Wolf Wolf of Wolf + Wolf Architects. Not many builders are familiar with hemp as a building material but it is simple to work with.”

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September 2020