Cameron McIntosh

Owner, Americhanvre Cast Hemp


  1. Introduction


Cameron McIntosh is the owner of Americhanvre Cast Hemp, Industrial Hemp Coalition Coordinator at All Together Now PA

Americhanvre Cast Hemp

We design, partner, and install hemp-based building materials. Green building and sustainable design are at the heart of every building project.  Our innovative ‘Hempcrete’, made of hemp herd and lime–can be produced sustainably from a renewable resource that sequesters carbon as it grows. The benefits of using Hempcrete outweigh those of traditional building materials. Here are a few:

  • Insulation to your home or business is carbon negative
  • Natural thermal properties 
  • Acoustically properties
  • Fire-resistant
  • Pest-resistant

Our mission is to actively store carbon in the walls of our homes, and in doing so, to dramatically improve their energy efficiency in the process.  We are dedicated to the development of applications for hemp and lime materials that reach beyond their capacity for thermal and fire resistance.  At Americhanvre, we envision a future where hemp begins to bridge the gap between sustainability and affordability in our choice of building materials. 

Americhanvre is also committed to being mindful of our impact on the environment, supporting our local economy where possible, and promoting the growth and well-being of our clients and employees.  By working openly with others in this industry, we hope to participate in accelerating the shift towards hemp materials and enlightened business practices for the betterment of the planet and of our fellow human beings.

  • Getting to know the Guest Speaker

Mandi Lynn Kerr introduced Cameron McIntosh

Somewhat I hesitate to call it, I hesitate to call it landscaping, because we weren’t mowing lawns and cutting grass, we were doing a lot of stream bank stabilization, stormwater management, a lot of private property, land management, and publicly bid stuff. So I really learned a lot about running a business. And then also estimating and bidding, probably most importantly, we did a lot of competitive, public bids. So in that process, though, where we are in Allentown, we’re relatively close to New York City, so a lot of our plant material because it was native native means that it is appropriate to the Eco region that we’re in. Naturally. A lot of that plant material went into New York City for container gardens. Many of our many plants were installed on the High Line for anyone that’s ever been in New York City. There’s an old rail line that they turned into a really beautiful walking path with container gardens, native plantings, native fruit trees, and it’s really cool. If you’re ever in New York City, definitely take a walk on that. And, and so, I realized there was sort of an appetite for these plants in an urban environment and started looking at how to make container garden planter boxes. Basically, the first one I ever made was made out of concrete. It was about two feet by maybe two and a half feet just a big rectangle. And it was ungodly, heavy, and it was really hard to move. So I started looking around for alternatives, sort of stumbled upon air Crete, which is like an aerated concrete that I thought was pretty cool. And that’s when I found hempcrete. And I made the same mistake that everybody does, when they hear that word. I was like, oh, cool, I can use that instead of concrete from my planter boxes. So that led me down a rabbit hole. But what really pushed me was an experience I had at Lime works here in Telford PA, and the degree to see the owner there at Lime works. And the guy that was sort of the operations person at that point, Chris, they both had experience working with hempcrete. Andy is a good friend with Tim Callahan, who some of you may know is sort of one of the original hempcrete Builders here in the United States, he was active in about,2008 to 2012 range. And so they were having a workshop on hempcrete. And I couldn’t believe it, they were 30 minutes from where I worked at the time and about 45 minutes from where I lived. So I just couldn’t believe it. There was a company here in PA that was already making a precast hempcrete binder, like they already had a product. And they were offering this workshop. So I signed up. It was 600 bucks for three days. And I was the only one that signed up. This was June of 2018. So I took the workshop and I fell in love with it right away. I mean, it’s just such a wonderful material rewarding experience. And Chris and Andy, at that point said, hey, we get a lot of inquiries from people about,, builders or contractors, you seem to be pretty handy. would you consider signing up to be on our list of recommended installers. And I said, well, and thought about it, but yeah, absolutely, that sounds great. Sign me up.

And by November of that same year 2018, the farm bill was signed, sort of rescheduling hemp away from cannabis in general. So that to me was sort of a green light. And I feel like at that point in time in the industry, there were a lot of people that were swirling around, thinking and that were maybe outside of the traditional cannabis activists or enthusiasts that were saying, Oh, this is actually real. This is really happening. They’ve just rescheduled it. They see Mitch McConnell, platforming for him on the floor of the Sun strand factory at the time. So it was, again, one of those rare bipartisan sort of issues that I think at that point a lot of people like me who obviously I’m a cannabis enthusiast, but had never engaged professionally with cannabis or hemp in any way. That was sort of a green light to a lot of us to say, Okay, there’s something here, we might actually be able to make it go this. And it’s really standing on the backs of all the people that in the industry that have been sort of banging the drum for 30 -40 years now, a lot of whom I’ve been really excited to meet, and I now know they’re, I consider friends, which is really crazy. So it’s still a very small industry, and particularly for hempcrete I think one of the most exciting things for me was that it’s still so new. So even guys, likeTim Callahan and Steve Allen, Alex from the UK hempcrete the books that we buy that we all read about hempcrete, they’re still active, those guys are still building, they’re still out there. So it’s not like a trade or something where the originators are long gone, it’s still very active, it’s still sort of happening. So that was really exciting. And then from there, I started connecting with people in the industry locally, it was January of 2019, when I finally quit my job at the nursery, to do this full time. And that’s where I linked up with Drew and Ana from coexist build. First thing we ever did together was build the hemp house on wheels. The National Health Association is in our backyard, Jeff wailing and Erica are like, basically neighbors. And they caught us when we were doing this and they said, Hey, we’ve got this great Expo happening in New York. On May 29, this was like February I think of 2019. Will it be ready? Will the hemp house on wheels be ready, we’d like to have it in our booth. And that was sort of, I think that was speaking about the fire, and it feels like ever since I haven’t been able to slow down. But we literally had to plan backwards from when that asset was due in New York, to the point that we were at then which is like a rusted out equipment trailer. So that was crazy. I mean, there were months of late nights, and it was good that I put all of my project management experience and estimating and bidding stuff to work right away. We hired out for a few things like the welding on the frame and some other stuff. But for the most part, we built it together in their barn there in Blandon. And then, rolled in, in New York City with this thing, this hempcrete house on wheels that like, we didn’t know if it was even going to survive. I didn’t know if by the time I got through the tunnel, there was going to be a sheet of plaster on the ground, or we were going to flatten the previous like, oh, yeah, it was terrible. Yeah. Heard. Yeah. Yeah. It was terrifying. And we got a lot of feedback from the industry. At that point, people were kind of like, Yeah, that’s probably not a great idea, and I certainly wouldn’t, I wouldn’t drive it down the road every day, but we have over 3000 or close to 4000 miles on it. Now, most recently out again, with the National Health Association, they’re in DC for ag on the mall, which is really great. So that’s a shout out for the National Hemp Association. They really are affecting policy and that’s one of the reasons why we really threw our way in with that group. They’re, they’re an organization in the hemp industry that really is actually doing the work, and getting in front of senators and testifying, in front of the Ag Committee, things like that. So it’s been, it’s been a really great experience, we have an ice core here in Pennsylvania. But from there, the pandemic was really scary and scared the shit out of me literally, I didn’t know if we were going to have a business on the other side of it. Probably the worst time to have a new business in a new industry, but 2020 was really good to us and 2021 was even better. So I don’t think that the pandemic had as negative an effect on the industrial fiber industry as it has on the restaurant industry or other industries.

  • New Solutions and New Innovations

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, like opened the awareness to a need for new solutions and new innovation and new economic opportunities and new rotation crops like everything hemp hits the supply chain break or the pandemic exposed, right as to like, hey, we have to be wiser about our housing, we have to have something that’s going to last longer, we have to have something that we don’t have to transport across the world. 

Cameron McIntosh said, we’ll get into all together now but that’s really the core message that we arrived on with that that nonprofit that I work with was that initially we had hemp as sort of a coalition and there was a lot of interested people or CBD folks fiber, textile folks, mostly CBD though and there was a handful of us that everyone thought were insane that we’re talking about building with it. Then since then, we’ve realized that hemp is not that there’s four or five coalition’s in all together now, local food, clothing and textile building materials. and plant medicine and really hemp fits into like all four of those quite handily. So instead of it being its own coalition, we’ve really found a way to work that into, all four of the focuses that we have. And like you said, I mean, it really, it really does. The pandemic sort of exposed a lot of things like, the need for local self-reliance, like what happened when the grocery store was out of meat. In two weeks, everybody started looking around and signing up for CSAs, buying pasture raised beef from a local butcher,, like the whole “whose farmer question became relevant again, Where are you? Where do you get eggs when they don’t have any in the grocery store?

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented and said, That’s something that we’ve been connected and I grew up in Wyoming, I grew up in the West. I’m not as disconnected as I wasn’t growing up as I am now, where I’m in the city of Salt Lake, right. But the majority of people that are really interested or that we’re really starting to grab the attention of have been so disconnected about where their clothes come from, where is that? Where’s the chicken come from? And I’ll tell you what, if 90% of us had to kill our own meat, we’d be vegetarian. With building materials or anything like that, yeah, I want to kind of talk about like, first, I want to give huge props to art crops, huge props, what you’re doing on the nonprofit side, because I think that it is that everybody that’s involved in Who Is it touching. And I’d really like to come back to it, and talk a little bit more.

  • About the Product

Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question and said, but I want to touch real quick on product and where you’re buying product and what we’re seeing in the industry, and then what we potentially need in the industry in order to develop so that we can bring our supply chain back to the US and support those local economies.

Cameron McIntosh replied and said, there’s so many facets to that issue,  and you’ve heard it many times the traditional chicken and egg scenario but I don’t remember who said this, that I heard recently, but it’s really the chicken the egg in the henhouse. At this point. It’s everything, you have to build it all. And that was, again, one of the sort of stressful parts about starting this business. And then also, one of the reasons why I’ve been so open to working with my colleagues, is that we’re not only just building our own businesses, we’re trying to build an industry at the same time and the demand. So we’ve always been an open door for anyone that wants to talk processing, or, specifically, what do I need as a hempcrete builder from them as a processor, I will have that conversation openly. Because again, I’m a fierce proponent of local and I believe that we should be able to get these things locally. And these bales behind me, as you can see, they’re lightweight, they don’t make sense to ship, it’s an odd sort of thing to wrap your brain around. But the heavier something is, the more cost efficient it is to ship when it’s really light, you’re filling volume and a truck or a container. And you’re leaving, capacity on the table really for that piece of equipment that’s moving it. So this herd behind us comes from France, one of the one of the main reasons why we initially did this was because we bought some lower cost herd from overseas at one point, and it was very low quality, I mean, the low price really correlated exactly to the low quality. For us hempcrete. The absence of dust and fiber is critical, there can be little to none. And dust, meaning particles beneath a certain sieve size that would interfere with the set. Beyond that, the matrix that you’re creating and hempcrete, where you’re trapping air pockets gets clogged if there’s too many fines or too much fiber. And then at that point, you’re making a more dense and massive wall, but it’s not as insulative because it doesn’t have that trapped air. So we are probably about as picky as it comes when it comes to the exact specification for the building. But if you’re hitting that specification for building grade, you’re also hitting what they expect for animal bedding. And that’s something that I think needs to be sort of rectified in the industry here is that if you’re producing hurd and you say, Man, this probably isn’t that great for building let’s sell it as animal bedding. That’s not good either. Because you’re sort of, you’re setting a low bar for people that might buy and say, Wow, this stuff’s really dusty. It’s not any better than the wood shavings, and it’s really expensive. So why am I using it? So the quality for building is very similar to the quality for animal bedding. So if you’re hitting one or the other, you’re going to have the other side covered and at this point, to be honest, this is another reality check for the industry. The demand for bedding products is much higher than it is for building. We brought in seven shipping containers last year about 30,000 pounds apiece so maybe 200,000 pounds for the hampered last year. And Bill 1010 projects with that that amount of heard maybe represents like 150 to 200 acres so it’s true really not my demand is not even yet enough for a processor, I might, they might need 20 or 30 people like me before they can even say that they’re getting close to the capacity of their piece of equipment or what have you. So it’s, it’s, I try to be as realistic and you could say pessimistic. But I tried to be as realistic as possible when I talked to people about answering this question to say that there’s quite a bit of development that needs to be done on the market side, as well as the processing. So in our case, where we are in Pennsylvania, it’s obviously not as expensive for me to bring in material from France and use it in the northeast, because it’s just making that transatlantic trip, shipping has become very expensive. So It’s gotten much more expensive for me recently. But we’re still able to get a consistent, reliable product, I can have what I need when I need it, there’s no question about supply, every bag I’ve ever gotten is the same quality. And I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s a little sticker on the bags here, from a third party body and France that certifies the material as appropriate for building. And that has helped me dramatically in getting projects approved when I’m talking to a code enforcement office and saying, Hey, look, I know you don’t, I know you’ve never heard of this before. But here’s the product that I’m using, and it is certified by someone somewhere as appropriate for what I’m asking you to do with it. So that’s helped a lot too. Although it’s more expensive, we don’t really make anything on it for the amount of money that we have to put out to bring a container in, we make very little money on it, it’s really not worth it. But the point is that we have it for the project. So we’re able to get the work and do the work because we have the material. Yes, I’m not making what I’d like to be making on it. But this shipping drama actually set a really good precedent for the American producers right now we’ve got a couple that are coming online. And because this is so expensive, now to import, they’re actually able to set their price a little bit higher and be very competitive. Whereas I would have hoped to get American building quality heard for maybe 2530 cents a pound back, when I started that was sort of what I was hoping where I was paying 40 to 50 cents a pound for imported. Now we’re at the 90 cent mark for imported herd, which leaves the door open for American producers to charge 50-60 70 cents a pound and still be very competitive. So it’s actually in a in a way it’s a it’s a good thing, kind of not not for the buyer, but for the seller, and that’s what we’re hoping with American farmers with hand is that they’ll be able to sort of pick their set their price rather than being reliant on subsidies, like they are for everything else. So you had a comment there.

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented and said, “Every morning at 10am we get yard crew outside I feel like this is just brought back focus to that supply chain and the need to fix the supply chain so that we have that or to bring that capital injection in so that we can produce volume that is needed. Right. And again, 150 acres, like you said, is a very small, small input or need from farm size when we’re talking about the scale over the next couple of years.

Cameron McIntosh said, Yeah 12 15,000 acres some of these facilities are going to need to run at a profitable rate. And yeah, I mean that the other thing too, that I try to tell people is it’s almost as important right now to have farmers in the field. It is as important right now to have farmers in the field learning how to grow the crop, how to bring it in, how to harvest it, all of that stuff, as it is to have that million dollars and those PhDs on your team. They’re gonna get you so far but without the farmers and this is agriculture. This isn’t horticulture like cannabis flower is horticulture, right. And there’s good recent gorilla knowledge on how to grow cannabis flowers really well. We know how to do that really well. But the farmers are the ones that have to relearn how to grow the fiber industrial crop and that does not happen overnight. You cannot give C to a farmer and in the first year, expect and be sure that they’re going to have something that’s worth processing it literally it’s farming, it’s agriculture. It takes seasons worth of iterating not failing but iterating to get it right. And they have to relearn how to do that. So, there’s organizations one, one of which is in Pennsylvania, the dawn group that we’ve worked with for the project hemp home. They’ve been working with farmers for three or four years now. And they’re now looking at bringing in a processor as a piece of equipment. So it’s a literally if you if you if it seems like a distant dream and it’s something that you want to do or you think you want to do, or you have a group of friends that have the acreage and you guys want to make a go of it, really, it’s important to get the seed in the ground and start learning how to how to how to work with it, how to grow it, what grows well, in your area, what to do in certain situations, heavy rain, no rain, things like that, you have to start doing that now. So that by the time you have that down, and you’ve got the money in place, whether it’s from the government grants or subsidies or, private investment to put the equipment in, that you’re actually able to produce to that volume. So,, again, I’m very open. And I’ve talked to many, if not all of the, early startup processors here, I get samples from them, I pay for samples, I want a 500 pound superstack. I don’t, I can’t tell from a one gallon ziplock bag of tempered. Unfortunately, I can’t tell anything from that. So, again, we’re very open, and we talk openly. And I try to support them, I’d like to see what they’re producing. And I’d like to see how close it is to what I need. Beyond that, though, there’s also this sticker again, the way how do we get that sticker on these American bags with an organization here? So that’s where the USHPA comes in. And the process for that is working with ASTM to establish a standard, but also the testing protocol for how is that lab expected to examine a sample? How often are they sampling? What are they sampling from? And how are they established? Or how are they grading the herd to say, Yes, this is building quality, or no, it isn’t. So that whole process is at play right now. I am no longer on the board of directors of the USHPA. I’m a corporate member. So we still support the organization. I’ve moved on to focus on other things and make way for other people to be in those shoes. But the process that we started was to work with ASTM, and come up with this specification, which is loosely based on the French one. It’s not, it’s not being done in any way. And I want to be clear about this that nothing that I’ve done organizationally with the USHPA or elsewhere has been done in such a way to corner the market, it’s really just to bring that base standard upright. So think about it.

  • Certification

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, just a certification, it isn’t an end all be all if it doesn’t say that any other product is not superior, it’s just saying this meets the specs and standards, and give some reassurance to people to say, okay, I can trust in that certificate.

Cameron McIntosh replied and said, for building departments. I mean, it’s very similar, the analogy I like to use is that it’s similar to the crushed stone aggregate in concrete, three quarter inch stone, it can be quarried anywhere, but it needs to hit a basic standard for cleanliness and distribution of the different particle sizes. And that’s not a problem, why do we need that so that we know that concrete is the same in Salt Lake City as it is in Philadelphia, so and in that way, then you can build the codes around it. So that part of our other work with this was obviously getting the IRC code written. And, and having that in place. Now we’ve referenced within that the ASTM standards that are being developed for, for the herd and for other components. But that’s really what a code building code is the rules around it. And ASTM sort of covers that, the actual testing standards so that the metrics by which you’re assuming a process or a material is suitable for what you’re doing with it. So all those dominoes are starting to fall, though, right? Like we’ve got processors that are getting close, really, really damn close. And the things that are slowing them down now are growing pains, like getting their pieces of equipment running properly and optimized and everything. So we’ve got people that are getting really close. So I’m really excited for that. And beyond that we’re working together as an association, like we said, to set those guidelines so that they’re not done specifically so that they’re not done in a way that makes it so that only one piece of equipment or only one cultivars suitable, no way we don’t want that at all. And we were very careful in writing both the IRC index and also this ASTM code to say that again, it’s an open playing field and we’re encouraging innovation and things like that.

  • One genetic is going to work 

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, This is more about that in product after processing what goes into that building material, not necessarily where it comes from that right. So much to discover, right? And I see just like with corn and soybean, right, we’re gonna see certain genetics are going to be focused in certain areas for products or types of materials. But yeah, I think right now there’s just such a gray area to say that one genetic is going to work for your product across the world.

Cameron McIntosh replied and said and that comes down to the equipment as well. And that’s what another thing that I’ve always tried to encourage when people are talking about the process of,getting from being a farmer who wants to grow hemp to actually having a deliverable and product is to say, work collaboratively with the farmers in your area, find people that are interested in doing it with you work together and share your notes, figure out what the best cultivars for your area, then once you find a piece of equipment, you can tune that piece of equipment, specifically to the cultivars that you’re working with, whether it’s the Chinese, or the Italian varieties that have a big fixed stock, or the, Eastern European varieties that are thinner depending on what you’re trying to do, having some continuity between what’s being delivered to the factory, so that you’re not constantly having to readjust Gate Heights and openings and things like that in your equipment, it’s going to put you further ahead if you can work collaboratively. And that’s why you’ve seen a lot of the processors are actually providing the seed to the people that they’re contracting, because they want to make sure that they’re getting that continuity. And I think that’s really smart. And if you’re again, if you’re a group of farmers in an area thinking about this, there are ways to start growing grain, for example, there’s grain harvesting, drying and storage equipment in every county in America. It exists already and you can use it to grow hemp grain right now, what you do with the stocks then is different, that may require a different piece of equipment, a different combination. But the grain you could start learning the crop and growing the grain and be able to deliver an end product now is there the demand for the grain on the other side of that, that also remains to be seen by the ways that you can work your way into it. So I really try to encourage people to collaborate, work together, on on this with the people in their area, whether you’re processing and growing, or if you’re doing something like what we’re doing, focusing on a specific industry, you’ve heard a lot, but there’s a lot more to gain from working together collaboratively right now than there is to compete over nothing. There’s nothing to compete over yet. So why not work together? Everybody priming the pump. And that’s sort of what I was mentioning before. One of the reasons why I haven’t stopped importing the French shirt is because I need to have it for my projects. And in my mind, we’re creating demand, right? Like if we can get to a point where we have a sizable demand for the material. And we use French material to get there. I’ll switch overnight. As soon as we have all these things come together. And we have an American certification, somebody who’s got their compression baling down, and all of that, and they’re really hitting their stride. I’m done. I’m switching, like there’s no, there’s no need, I don’t have any desire to import from France endlessly. It’s literally just, again, this analogy, priming the pump, we’re using this material now to build our business and create the demand so that when we’re ready, and when the industry is ready, we can have a seamless transition and jump right to an American product of some kind, as locally as possible, hopefully.

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, and it gives us that opportunity to compete on economics right now. And we’re importing we’re shaving off of that profitability a lot impacts what we can potentially pay back to our farmers. And so I imagine in the very near future, we’re going to start to see that switch if we do start to see the scale of both processing and acreage. And, we’re gonna see the scale. Now. Let me ask your opinion on this. I guess, what I see is we’re seeing a lot of scale of processing. And we’re really struggling to bring the acreage in, right because commodities we’re now up against this commodity battle with these other crops. And so I don’t envision it being overnight. But I do envision we’re going to make this this slow crawl over this next couple of years as we do bring processing in that secures that acreage for farmer

Cameron McIntosh said,I think that one of the big problems this year, in Pennsylvania in particular, was that there were groups that were looking to contract farmers with seed. this past year, and let’s say like a $500 an acre guarantee any other year, that’s pretty damn good compared to corn and soy. It might be about what it is on a normal basis, but it’s pretty damn good. It’s speculative for a farmer to say okay, I’m or for them to not have to speculate and say I have a guarantee of $500 per acre. But unfortunately, the government set the subsidies for corn and soy, it’s seven and $800 an acre. So it was a nonstarter. I mean, you couldn’t get a farmer to talk about it. Beyond that, we have to be careful with the agricultural farmers like the true, honest farmers looking at what happened with CBD and saying I don’t want any part of that. And some very few of those types of farmers don’t dove into the CBD, some of them did a lot in the Amish community actually here. And they’ll never plant another CBD seed again, they just won’t, it’s gotten a black eye, and it doesn’t matter if it becomes profitable, they just won’t touch it again. So we have to be very careful that that doesn’t happen on the fiber industrial side as well, that we’re not making promises that can’t be delivered upon. And thus, these are farmers, they’ll say, no, if they hear one one bad story from a friend who they trust, they’ll say no every time.

  • Focus that the Industry Needs

Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question and said, But I think that’s where we need to be careful of the type of people we’re doing business with and meeting them. And that’s where I like the event at $1,000 or $900 per acre so it covers all of them cost plus that $500 per acre and profit that that’s in the past been, like you said, a good opportunity for them. What do you think it’s going to take to really bridge this gap? What is the data that we need? Or what’s the focus that the industry needs?

Cameron McIntosh said, I would say that political tailwinds are going to be the one thing that really helps to carry this forward. And what I’m most excited about is the potential I won’t say that it’s for sure. But the potential for a carbon credit trade system where a farmer who’s employing who’s already employing sort of regenerative organic farming practices that’s rotating hemp and can begin to start measuring and selling the carbon credit for the amount of carbon that they’re sequestering in their field, hemp is really good at that, storing carbon in the soil, because of the root system and all that. So if there’s a way to quantify that, and then put a price on that, so that the farmer can get an extra subs, let’s say even if it’s 100, or $200 an acre per year for fixing carbon in the soil and being able to measure that and sell it, all of a sudden hemp is going to be way more attractive.

  • Why Not Grow Hemp

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, what’s that, it’s almost like carbon becomes the subsidy for him. Right? Anything else is government reliant, right? And hemp now has its own added benefit of carbon.

Cameron McIntosh replied and said then farmers can break that cycle of being reliant on the government and they can start setting prices for their end product. Again, this has been said a lot lately, farmers buy at retail and sell at wholesale. So we’ve got to figure out a way to fix that. But I think carbon credits can definitely work again, if farmers are already engaged in regenerative no till organic crop rotation. Hemp already makes sense. If you are going to sow Clover or something that you’re just going to tell in the next year anyway, why not grow hemp? Why not put him in that field, it’s better for the soil anyway, you weren’t expecting a return on it, that field was resting or it was in a cycle where it was off production, and then by the time you do plant corn in there, again, you should get a better yield. So there’s already a good reason, I think a lot of it comes down to education, there’s great there’s a great documentary recently on carbon farming and the amount of carbon that’s released by agriculture on Netflix, I can’t remember the name of it, but they were interviewing a guy from NRCS, called Ray Archuleta. And he was talking about how much disturbance is created by traditional farming and how much carbon is being really so anyway, we won’t have to get down that track. But if you’re if you’re looking at it, that the potential is there for both the farmer to be getting a carbon credit for the amount of carbon that they’re fixing in the soil, and then for us as builders to be then using a carbon sequestered product to offset the use of other carbon intensive products. So there should be a subsidy on the other side as well.

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented and said, There need a sequester right?

Cameron McIntosh said, So that’s really exciting to me. And I think something like that could very quickly tip the scales in the direction of hemp. And that takes political pressure that takes, lobbying and all the kind of dirty, underhanded things that go along with that

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, Come down right on a global scale, there are penalties being implemented in other countries. We just didn’t sign on to it. But for the carbon footprint, and so it’s coming.

Cameron McIntosh said, I think it’s coming. And I’m really, really excited by the work that’s being done it places like Hudson carbon and Hudson, New York, where they’re literally focusing right now on how to establish those metrics of how is it how, how are you deciding, or how are you demonstrating the amount of carbon that you’re fixing in the soil so that a price can then be put on it? And in Europe, I think Dobson has already been Dobson the same. It’s 75 five to $100 per tonne that you sequester whereas right now it’s like $25 is sort of arbitrary and not very realistic and good luck finding someone to buy it. So, like you just said, we have to do what they’ve done in Europe and really make it mandatory that people are focusing on this, and then that that market may evolve. Let’s say it’s, five years from now, realistically, hopefully, if in five years from now farmers can be being paid for the amount of carbon they’re sequestering, and then we get paid for the amount that we’re offsetting, that’s where we’re really getting somewhere.

  • Regenerative Agriculture

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, It says that it is better long term. It’s like this recurring cycle, right, that we’ve gotten into this big pay fast payout security of mono cropping or bad practices on our soil. And so it really is this, we’ve got to figure out how to reward or, like, put consequences out for those bad players. But I think it’s still that question of right now, it’s really easy to say if you change your Sawyer practices from x to z, or from A to B, what that difference is, but what about for those that have already been in regenerative agriculture? And, and, how do we reward that, that since it’s not, we’re not showing them an increase? Because they’re really who are pushing this, they’re like, listen, it has been a difference.

Cameron McIntosh said, they will, all of a sudden, have a brand new business opportunity open up and become consultants. For other farmers that are interested in doing. We’ll need people teaching that and and, spreading the gospel as it were, to really get people to change. So I’m excited by that. And what we’ve done, personally, in our business, in the meantime, is to focus on getting really efficient at install. Okay, so one of the other things beyond the materials that makes it so expensive to do, the work that we’re doing is the amount of time that it takes to install hempcrete by hand on a job site on a custom, architectural home. what do we do in the meantime, while the industry works out? we help, obviously, we’re trying to help as much as we can, but we’re still also running a business, how do we what, what can we do in the meantime, to get it to the point where, by the time the materials come down, we’re as efficient as possible at installing, and the costs on our end, in terms of installation, and delivery are so much lower, that by the time we have the local materials, then we’re bringing we’re closing that gap where hempcrete might be 30% more expensive than traditional or garbage building, which is, track building homes. Everybody wants to know, how much more expensive is it? And I’m like, Well, what are you comparing it to? If you’re comparing it to a Toll Brothers Orion homes kind of building, then yes, it’s more expensive, because it’s a far superior construction material, it’s going to last a lot longer but but spray application for us is where I really I thought, as soon as you’ve done cast in place, you immediately start thinking, okay, there’s got to be a better way to do this, there’s got to be a more efficient way to do it. This was great, it’s fun, it’s a great thing to do. As a community, it’s the most accessible way to do hempcrete cast in place. You need basic carpentry skills and know how to do it properly. So it’ll always have a place. And I think it’s always very valid that it’s a wonderful thing to do as part of a community but to try to do what I’m doing and turn it into a business where you have to make, make money and get,cash flow. It’s really difficult to do that with cast in place where one project could take a month, a lot of the houses that we’ve sprayed are normal 2500 square foot residential homes, that if we were to have done them by cast in place method would have taken nearly a month just for that, just for the cast in place part, a whole month of hard work. And then to have to wait and tell someone they have to wait another eight to 10 to 12 weeks for it to dry before they can do the plaster. I mean, that’s a total non-starter for a traditional builder, a general contractor, they think you’re out of your mind when you tell them that one process alone takes a month to do and then a month and a half to two months worth of waiting for it to be ready. It’s it’s it’s just it’s insane. So it’s great for the type of clientele that we’ve had which are motivated wonderful human beings but motivated, homeowner builders or general contractors that are sort of already looking at the green track. And they sort of understand that and there’s a little bit of a different way that you have to work with it and the sequencing maybe a little bit more expanded. But it’s really tough. when the cost of the materials is what it is, and we aren’t marking them up, we can’t mark them up or we wouldn’t even get the work. And then the cost of installation to say you need an eight person team for an entire month, it really becomes this exclusive thing that only people who can afford to have the conscience are able to do it. My argument is always that yes, you might spend 30% more, but the cost of ownership, obviously, over time with the energy savings is so much lower that it really if you sat down and looked at it is a good investment, it’s a really good investment, when you’re building a home to use a material that lowers your monthly inputs, I mean, that that, that’s a that’s an easy sell. But when the rubber meets the road, you’re talking to a client who’s got a muddy hole in the ground and wants to build a house on it. And it’s 30% More than doing it the cheap way. That’s, that’s, that’s a really tough sell. So, for me, that’s where spray application sort of came in. And I had been looking into it, sort of from the beginning, I knew it existed, but it wasn’t here yet. It wasn’t really in the United States yet. So there’s nowhere that I could go to see it or to train with it or work on it, I would have to travel to do that. So I actually met Damien in 2019 at the first US handbuilding summit in Idaho hosted by hemper texture. That’s where we met Damien, the whole world all excuse me, the whole community in the United States, Matt Damien for the first time at that Expo.

And, and it was a failed demonstration, they didn’t have the right size piece of equipment there to drive it. So Damien was all flustered and pissed off when it was done. And I walked up to I said, this is great. Like I understood right away why that machine was different from the other ones that I had looked at, and the improvements that he had made sort of answered a lot of questions and the reservations that I had, in my mind, so this is wonderful. And he was all upset, and he’s like, No, it didn’t work. But there’s a really, there’s a, there’s a really iconic picture, thought of me holding the Erase Elance while the entire crowd is like paying attention to something that he was saying. And they’re all their backs are turned to and I’m holding it like a goof like, I’m on a hunting party holding it really excited. But anyway, so that point in time is when I decided to buy the system, it was still managed by habitat Fisher. Fast forward to 2020, the pandemic hit again, I was considering my options, what was I going to have to do to make ends meet? Man they called me Tommy Maddy called me and said they had a project in Missouri that they needed help on, and I came and brought my equipment. So that ended up being the first home in the United States that was spray applied, which was really cool. And we did it in five days, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t even supposed to leave the state at that point. So it was kind of nerve wracking from that point of view. But we got it done and sprayed a house in five days proving the concept. And it was like, wow, there’s something here, then it wasn’t perfect. Don’t get me wrong. The first one was not perfect, but it was done. And it proved the concept. So at the end of 2020 is about when the texture decided to make their pivot to hemp wool. And they graciously released that agreement to me with Damien. So that’s when I picked it up. And since then, 2021, we did again, like about eight or 10 different houses last year with it. And then this winter, my project was finding a contract fabrication partner to have the equipment made here in the United States. So starting to reverse that supply chain issue of like, something breaks in this machine and I have to order it from France. That’s not I wouldn’t ask.

The right I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t ask another contractor to buy a piece of equipment where you had to wait for someone like at the worst case someone to get on a plane and bring you apart. I mean, that’s ridiculous. And Damien understood that. So part of our agreement is to basically Americanize the system in terms of the components for the hardware. And then also the binder, which right now we are importing. The EZ splint spray applied binder is specific to the machine. We are working with him to reformulate it here. But my goal for this year was to get the equipment, localized and available. So we’ve decided to work with ECG manufacturing and make the mixer that we use. They’re an equipment manufacturer out in Ohio, and they are making the base component now of the EZ box and then all the other bits and pieces I’ve sourced here in the United States as well. So we’ve announced that we’ve released the systems to be pre purchased, they’re actually just waiting on motors right now. We have them all put together and of course there’s a supply chain issue around the motors but we have them all ready to go. They’ll be delivered here. mid May. Two, the first four people so far that have bought them. One in Missouri, one in Michigan, one in North Dakota and And whereas the fourth one, Montana, so they’re out there now. And as part of that, we started doing a training program. And I hesitate to call it a workshop, although it was more or less a workshop, a four day long workshop, and it’s a training program, where we’re teaching people, specifically how to spray. And it was really special this year when I had planned that, I didn’t know that Damien was going to be available to come. But he wrote me a message saying I got a visa. So we actually had Damian here in person for the first two of our training workshops, starting at the beginning of April. And it was really special to have that experience because I had not yet gotten to work with him yet. My plan was in 2020, I was supposed to go to NoCo. And then right on the heels of that, to York, UK, for the International handbuilding Summit, it never happened, obviously, because of COVID. So I missed I mean, I all the work that I did in between then was really, me learning how to do it on my own, and how to work with this machine on my own, which was great, because by the time he did show up, and came to these trainings, I was really prepared to absorb and I had really great questions for hemp what he was able to teach. So anyway, that was a really wonderful experience, we’ve got some great pictures of that. We had 14 people between the two training sessions that showed up and we partnered with Homeland hemco Matt Marino, he’s out in North Dakota, and has just designed a precast panel system. So we made 35, four foot by eight foot by nine and a quarter inch deep pre framed pre sprayed hempcrete panels sections that can then be shipped out on the site, after they’re cured with some of the finishes on and put together like Legos, basically. 

Mandi Lynn Kerr commented and said, Like offsite modular building, that’s where I see so much interest coming to us. And I always just refer them over to the Belt Builders Association, but tons of people come to us that are really looking to reinvent the way homes are built. And she materials and so building and shop shipping and containers and then putting them together on site instead.

Cameron McIntosh said, Well, and hopefully the goal and Matt Matt’s interest in from Homeland hemco. And joining this process was to say, if I am going to take this and decentralize it because it really doesn’t, it’s the same for a precast panel as it is for a cinderblock. You don’t ship pallets, cinderblock all over the country, you have facilities that make them locally, and then they’re shipped within maybe 100 mile radius of that facility. Same for these panels, Matt we’d really like to have a decentralized, but how do you do that? It’s the same problem with cast in place on site as it is on a panel in a factory, there’s a whole lot of variables that go into doing it by and that quality control would be a nightmare. So for him, y his interest was in the spray application equipment to say, if we’re spray applying the panels in a controlled environment in a factory, do we get a more consistent product? And the answer is absolutely yes, we had 14 people who had never held the lance to spray before that had no problem spraying and installing the material into these panels. So that was really exciting was to say, look, there might be something here where, Matt worked, really hard and hired a structural engineer, actually the same structural engineer that we use for the IRC code, Matt hired and worked with to come up with the design for these panels. So although they look simple, there’s a lot that goes into doing that properly, shipping them, assembling them on site, how you’re how you’re framing and connecting them. There’s a lot that goes into it. So it’s really exciting. And I encourage anybody that hasn’t already heard about Matt, to check him out and look into it if you’re looking for a solution. But a lot of the stress and the pain, even for spray application or casts in place that you experience on site, spraying or casting someone’s design. It’s their architectural whatever masterpiece, and there’s lots of cutbacks and switchbacks, all things that make it more difficult to do on site and add time and expense to the installation process can be done in a factory environment, you can still have a very architectural build, but you’re using units using these modular components. And they can be a pallet of them that a designer can work with. But then they’re created in a factory environment, they all come out perfectly, they’re all perfectly installed and packed. And then they can be shipped out to site so that’s another again, that’s another example of like, how do we get as efficient as possible in installation and systems around the installation to make it so that we’re limiting the sequencing issues on site. And modular building is not modular building is definitely the way the industry is going. If you look at anybody’s ever seen a house being built, or driven down a highway, you’ve seen those trucks with all the roof trusses stacked up big triangles stacked up framed out on a truck. That’s a modular building, carpenters Don’t make the roof trusses on site anymore. They order them on a truck, they show up pre-bill, and they use a crane to put them together. So we’ve already started that process of modular building component base building. And it’s absolutely the future but again, the spray application equipment makes it so that you can go out and more easily do a custom structure or a retrofit. Right? It’s really good for retrofitting existing structures, which as an aside, I personally feel like is a great way to sequester a lot of carbon quickly, the cost of building a new building, whether it’s modular components, or precast, blocks, whatever sprayed, and casts on site, if it’s a new building, there’s carbon costs involved with that new building, that are not involved when you’re retrofitting an existing structure. So especially in the Northeast here, and you’ve been out here, where I live, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, hundreds of 1000s, millions of old homes that are poorly insulated, still good structurally, but poorly insulated and badly needing updating. So that to me, and specifically for Damien’s work in France is what he does a lot of as well, is retrofitting. And in their case, it’s like four and five and 600 year old buildings. But retrofitting to me was one of the other things with the spray application piece of equipment that I thought it was very well suited for. And it turns out to be So it’s another answer. Like I said, for if you’re a contractor who wants to get into this, maybe you’re already an installation, or the woman in Michigan Kim who’s buying a machine as a painter. So she’s already in the contracting world, and understands efficiency and getting a job done and things like that. So you can put that piece of equipment in someone’s hands and they can be successful doing small to midsize projects, you can also do large installs with it. But you could make your bread and butter by retrofitting someone’s garage, turning their garage into a livable space, or, a basement or an accessory building on a farm, a pole building or something like that could be insulated. So this spray application question in my mind, puts hempcrete a little bit, a step further into the traditional construction and building world. And in particular installation work. There’s a lot of insulation subcontractors now that do traditional bat spray foam, dense pack cellulose, which is spray applied, they have the equipment to do all of that. So why not add one more and offer a green solution to your clients and say, Hey, if you can stomach the upfront costs, this is a wonderful material to use, and we can install it. So anyway, there’s a lot in that little bite there. 

  • The Gap

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, I’d love to actually bring you back some time and do a panel discussion about some of these topics right to bring. Because I hear a lot of times that there’s people that want to get into it. But there’s still a lot of reservation. And I think we just barely touched on what those reservations are around, like labor costs and supply chain. But how do we really bridge that gap for those companies so that we can make this scalable, right, because like you said, just like farming? It’s one thing to grow a few plants, it’s another thing to grow a few 1000 acres, a couple houses, but to really turn it into a scalable business. We’re teaching construction workers that are like teaching old dogs new tricks, right? Yeah. The industry itself moves slower, or we’re expected to have to be able to put out the labor force also. And so kind of dive into that more because I do. I think that we’re just hitting the surface of where we have fallen into construction and building materials and the insulation and you touched on it too. I’ve been saying for years, I want to build a pole barn house and love to insulate it and build the inside with a barndominium.

Cameron McIntosh said, but the unfortunate part is because they’re so big people are using things like spray foam and rigid foam to insulate them. But it’s interesting the way that a pole barn is structured. It’s a post and beam structure. So you can put whatever you want in between there and between the post and beam. So having a cassette or a panel like the one Matt’s making fits right into those that could be a whole business in and of itself. But yeah, I’m with you on that. Mandy, I’d love to check back in. I think the only other thing I wanted to mention quickly, there’s just a little bit more about our nonprofit work. It’s called altogether now pa altogether now Please look at it. It’s a model that we want very badly to see other people replicate in their area, focusing on local self- reliance and uniting urban and rural communities, right? So we have such a terrible divide in this country right now mostly because of the last presidency where the urban rural communities are very much at odds with each other, but we’re so dependent on each other. And we think it’s very important that people realize that, like we were saying earlier, that not everything that’s in the grocery store may always be on those shelves, nor should you be buying it. If there’s something available locally, the low cost has a hidden price tag, right? So you can go to Walmart and buy something for $2. It might be 350 at a local store, but that money is staying in your community. So it’s really important. And this is the work that we’re focusing on both uniting the urban and rural communities, but also encouraging that local self- reliance. Hemp fits into all of it. It can feed you, it can clothe you, it can be your home, it can be your medicine, right, it really fits all four of our basic needs. So definitely check out that website. Judy’s been around on lots of podcasts and things like that. You can find out more about Judy, pretty much anywhere. Judy actually just testified in front of I think a State Ag panel with Laurie De Niro from Dawn services. So we’ve got some real powerhouse women running things here in Pennsylvania, as it should be the plant is feminine. And the energy is feminine. So we really appreciate that. But wonderful things are happening here in Pennsylvania, most of which are around our collaborative spirit. Right. So work together, link arms locally, avoid the temptation to sort of put other people down that are in the industry that might be doing the same thing as you, there’s a whole lot more to be gained from acting like that. And there is, at this point doing anything else, there’s nothing to fight over yet. So let’s make it so there’s something to fight over.

  • Collaboration

Mandi Lynn Kerr said, and so did the same thing. I’m all about the collaboration and trying to find ways to work together. So anything that we can do is an association or group, please don’t hesitate to reach out. How do people get in touch with you real quick, if they’re waiting? Or if they’re looking to reach you?

Cameron McIntosh said, we’re on all the social media. cameron mcintosh On Instagram, Meerschaum cast Tampa on Facebook. My email address is You can look in the links here. I think that manual is put up to get the spelling on that. And then my wife if you’re interested in materials or equipment 


Mandi Kerr
Author: Mandi Kerr