Gaia Farming co is a British biotech start-up utilising Mother Earth’s most sustainable plant: hemp for its environmental, health and material benefits. Although it captures four times more carbon than trees per acre, hemp is yet to be known by the masses as the sustainability powerhouse that it is. It’s zero-waste, as the entire plant can be used for a variety of outputs ranging from medicine to clothing and even food, and it is packed with many health benefits.
We honed in on these incredible properties to launch our first two beverage products: our ‘hemp and oat’ m*lk and ‘hemp and coco’ chocolate m*lk. Although they are delicious, what we really want is for our milk to support consumers in making ethical, sustainable and healthy food choices. The more hemp used, the greater the impact to our environment. We’re also currently raising money for our seed round, if you’ll pardon the pun.
How did you come up with the idea for Gaia?
I’ve always kept my eye on the environmental sector and innovations within it, and I’m fascinated by plants and how we can use them; in fact, I’m a strong believer that natural by-products and materials can solve some of the world’s greatest problems. When I started looking into hemp, I found more and more use cases for it, and I was really quite shocked that it’s not already mainstream.
What really inspired me was learning that, despite all these use cases, growing hemp was banned in the late 1920s – even though it had been cultivated for thousands of years for ropes and textiles. More than anything else, knowing that just galvanised me to get hemp back onto the scene!
Originally, I looked at processing hemp for biopolymers and pulp to replace plastic and wood, but the capital expenditure to do so was just too high. When I began to explore the food and beverage industry, I saw a huge opportunity for us to bring consumers what they want: healthy, eco-conscious products. I knew that if I could get the operational side of things up and running, I’d be able to build a great brand with a strong team around me.
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How has Gaia’s Farming Co. evolved during the pandemic?
As I’m sure is the case with any other start-up that’s launched during the pandemic, there have certainly been challenges to overcome. Raising capital during a time when no-one knew what was around the corner was tough, but in the end we raised £200,000 in March 2021 when we were still in a national lockdown!
In retrospect, we’ve been extremely lucky because the grocery market was one of the only industries that stayed steady throughout this crisis. At the same time, the pandemic has made people more environmentally aware and health-conscious, so the trends that have been propelled forwards have really worked in our favour too.
Like many people, the pandemic gave me time to reflect on what I wanted to be doing and how I wanted to be doing it. It was certainly a distressing time, but it pushed me to make a change I believed in.
What can we hope to see from Gaia’s Farming Co. in the future?
We really want to educate people on how beneficial hemp can be for different sectors, all the way from farming through to consumer. Hemp is well-placed to sweep the mass market as the world looks to brands for sustainable products and solutions to climate change. By getting people to drink hemp milk, we’re laying the foundations for a more sustainable plant-based milk industry and changing the way people see hemp so that other industries can soon adopt hemp on a wider scale.
In the shorter term, we want to expand our range and bring more brilliant hemp-based products like ice cream, canned coffees and snack bars to market. The more hemp we use and produce, the better it is for the environment, and that really is our number one goal! After all, it’s in our hands.