10 May FIBER HEMP: EVERYTHING NEW IS WELL-FORGOTTEN OLD
Though for some people this plant associates with narcotics, however, science is rediscovering hemp’s benefits in various spheres of life and it is on the way towards everyday consumer. Not many know that undeservedly demonized plant literally and unliterally has deep roots in Lithuanian culture – fiber hemp is probably the first cultural plant in Lithuania. It was being grown not only for fabric, but also for medicine and food, and according to archaeological researches, hemp ware found in old settlements and burial grounds, customs of fiber hemp usage are at least 5500 years old. Moreover, there is evidence that Baltic territory is one of the regions, from where usage of hemp has spread all over the world.
A lot of fiber hemp was being grown in Grand Duchy of Lithuania until XVIII century, and until medieval times it was known only in Eastern Europe because this plant was natural only for this region. Hemp fiber was widely used for rope-twisting, sewing of bags, clothes and net weaving, also for oil pressing, as a toll payment, and roasted seeds were consumed. In XV century Europe shortage of raw materials for shipbuilding emerged, because of that intensive export of hemp fiber had started, and along with it oil and seeds were shipped. Later, with an increase in export, people started to grow more linen, and in XIX-XX centuries hemp became more like a subsidiary culture of farming. Until WWII every farmer was growing more or less hemp, mostly for fiber, in 1913 85% of all Europe’s hemp areas were in the European part of Russia at that time. Hemp farming declined at the beginning of Soviet times and soon disappeared completely because synthetic products appeared and hemp’s comparison to narcotics started, though hemp breeds that were grown in our region did not have or almost didn’t have any narcotic effect.