The Lakota Hemp Project - Building The First American Hempcrete House

May 13-19, 2008, Lakota Hempcrete building project.

Lakota Hempcrete House Project - First American Hemp House
Walls Plastered

In December, 2007, Alex and Debra White Plume's house burned down. Alex is the most-celebrated hemp farmer in the world.

Alex and Debra have built a temporary house, using material from the White Plume Community Center that was only built a few years ago. The Community Center is a model wind-and-solar energy installation. The wind turbine and solar panels were installed by Matt Rankin's High Plains Wind & Solar.

Hemphasis and the White Plume clan collaborated with American Limetec of Chicago to rebuild the Community Center with a model hempcrete installation.

Two pictures of the White Plume clan / Kiza Park Community Center, as it looked in 2007. In both, the wind turbine (located about 50feet beyond the building) and solar panels are visible.

Lakota Hempcrete Project May 14 2008 The Hemphasis crew begins stripping the siding from the Community Center. The building is about 26 feet by 41 feet, with an 8-foot rafter height.

The crew prepares the building for its Hemcrete® insulative walls. We cut a window where one was needed. The Hemcrete® materials. "Hemp shiv" (or shive) is the hurds of hemp stalks, what's left after the fiber has been stripped from the stalk. It looks like wood chips. "Hemp Binder" is a high-lime cement mix. The shiv, binder, and water are combined to produce the wall, which we will (below) place in forms and allow to set up. Learn more about these products at American Limetec.

Mike and Andrew on the roof. After the siding was removed, we removed the chip-board underlay, leaving only the upright 3x8 frame studs.  Alex White Plume's bison graze in a prairie dog town a hundred yards from our work.

Jeremy, Jeremy and Lief ponder.

After removing the chipboard underlay, we place mesh over the studs on the ouside. The mesh will become the outer surface of the hempcrete walls, providing an anchoring surface for the stucco/plaster that will be applied after the hempcrete cures. After the mesh is put up, the chipboard is nailed back on as a temporary outer form, to prevent the mesh from bowing out during the process of filling and tamping the hemp- crete.

Alex White Plume talks with Daniel Nersesian, who is filming a hemp documentary. Far right and far right below: Hempcrete tamped into forms. The walls are now 12 inches thick.

a wheelbarrow dump of hempcrete on the floor. About 90% of the volume of the material is comprised of the hemp shive. The rest is the binder, with just enough water added to make it feel damp. It is a much dryer mixture than, say, concrete or plaster.

Ristan, Tony and Jeremy fill wheelbarrows with freshly- mixed hempcrete. The mixer is to the left, out of the picture. See below for mixer pix. Far right and below: crew fills forms and tamps hempcrete. Lief waits for an opening while John, Kim, Adena and Laurafill and tamp the 'crete.

Nersesian films the work.

Jeremy and Nate listen to Mario, from American Limetec. John, also from Limetec, is at right in the pic. Far right: Caroline shovels the 'crete.

Mixing crew primes another batch.

Briggs gets dusty.

Hempcrete Camp - Kiza Park is a very nice spot in which to spend a few tenting days.

Left: Tony, Amy, Laura, Tazia. Right: Andrew, Konnie, Alex.

Kim and Debbie Steele (Alex's Grand Daughter).

Jen, and Tazia.

Colleen and Briggs (always brings the frisbee for frolf).

Lakota Riders provide rides for hemp house 'creters.

Nearest: Amy, Lind, Alex, Konnie. Far: Amy, Tazia, kim. Wherever Alex was, there were granddaughters. There was crazy s'mores going on.

Lakota Hempcrete Project May 15-17 2008

The Hemphasis crew has taken the siding off and put mesh up, then temp-nailed the chipboard over the mesh on part of the building. The crew delivers the first mixer load of Hemcrete® of the day.

John from American Limetec goes over form-making, filling and tamping Hemcrete®.

The hempcrete building crew of the moment...

Putting up more mesh, building more forms.

Hemcrete® filling behind mesh, after curing overnight, and after the outside form has been removed. More hempcrete filling added to new walls.

Steven (sweeping) came from Mississippi to join Hempcrete Camp.

Mixing the shiv with Limecrete

You can see the patterns of the fills and tamps. As we reached the tops of the walls, the stud headers made filling the forms more difficult, so the segments of work became smaller. The hempcrete surface looks uneven, but it is smooth. The seams between segments are just less dense than the other areas. Remember, these walls are a foot thick. The plaster will render the seams invisible and the wall perfectly smooth. Note the close-up of partially cured Hemcrete®.

Placing mesh over the last section of outside wall followed by refreshments at the camp.

Hempcrete Camp Kiza Park is a very nice spot in which to spend a few tenting days. Meals in Hempcrete Camp were out- rageous. Look at the delicious six-nut bread baked in the cob oven built by the Hemphasis crew last summer (2007).  Tazia spoons up some Kiza Park chokecherry jam, made by Hemphasis staff from chokecherries picked at the park in 2006.

Amy bangs the bongo with Colleen, Adena, Tazia, Steven.

Lakota Hempcrete Project May 18-19 2008

Andrew builds forms for the last section of wall. After being filled and tamped, the form is removed after curing at least an hour

Posh fills and tamps the most labor- intensive part--the top 10 inches

Placing chipboard over the mesh; then, more food.

We used hempshive bags as scaffold supports.

The hempcrete walls become visible

Steven directs shovelfulls of Hemcrete® at a small target.

Kim fills and tamps.  Steven tosses another shovel- ful of 'crete up to Jacquie and Adena's working spaces.

Andrew tries to keep forms built ahead of the fill. Final mixing.

When the forms were removed, the walls had some "give". One could press the fill back a little with one's hand. After two days of curing, there was no doubt; this was a masonry wall. It felt solid, yet a slap on it it gave one the impression of lightness, different from slapping a brick or concrete wall.

Laura supplies Becky and Tazia with 'crete for the final few feet of fill.

Nate and Aaron square up the window frame. Some final top of wall tamping.

The materials pile has dwindled considerably.

Tazia and Adena keep things tidied up.

The walls are up. The last fills are curing.

Lief removes some of the last forms. The Community Center door is ready for re-hanging.

Our last act of the session is to hang tarps over the outside walls to keep rain off during the one-week curing time prior to stucco and plaster, which will seal the walls inside and out.