Words and images supplies by Hekeao Hemp.
Hekeao Hemp Co. came to life on a sunny day in September last year when two friends loaded hay into a float and talked about the exciting opportunity to provide an alternative in equine nutrition – something they are both passionate about. Hekeao is Māori for ‘Hinds River’ which boundaries ‘The Glen’, the farm where Hekeao Hemp Co. originates from. The Glen is nestled in the Mid-Canterbury foothills of the rural settlement called Anama. Hekeao means ‘where the cloud meets the hills’.
Josh and Emily had a vision of producing fresh, wholesome horse feed and supplements and wanted to make their ideas come to life. As a natural superfood, hemp has been a hot topic taking the world by storm and they knew there was a unique opportunity with this plant as it has several nutritional benefits. They put pen to paper, floated ideas and soon enough the first batch of pellets were bagged up and sent out to friends across the South Island to trial. Josh had the land, a plan, and could grow the produce. Combined with Emily’s background in Animal Health, marketing and sales as well as being a passionate horse rider, a strong team was formed.
Hemp has only been part of the cropping rotation for one season at ‘The Glen’, a family property where Josh is farming in its third generation. Straight away Josh could see the value in this sustainable, relatively easy to grow, plant that seems to suit the dryland climate. Josh and Emily’s vision was to add value to this versatile crop, combine it with other local Canterbury-grown produce and introduce it to the equine market – from farm to feed bucket.
Initial consultation with a nutritionist, horse trainers, business mentors, several friends and of course the bank manager led to creating and analysing recipes, carrying out field tests and launching a range of products. Initially, the range consisted of three varieties of hemp-based horse pellets and supplements, and recently the Wholefuel Muesli was introduced which includes ingredients such as peas, faber beans, lupins and barley.
All products are produced and manufactured locally and as environmentally friendly as possible. Sustainable packing such as refillable and reusable hessian sacks and optional glass bottles are used for the pellets and the oil respectively.
Maggie (Sales Manager) came on board in November with a strong background in equine sales and nutrition and has been out on the road launching Hekeao Hemp Co. into the NZ equine market. The range is now stocked throughout New Zealand, including all three Ruralco stores in Mid-Canterbury.
The stigma around hemp being ‘the same as marijuana’ is not verifiable as the hemp seeds generated from the plant do not contain any THC – the psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana – and only contain goodness, including an abundance of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. Hemp seeds are also known to contain the optimal balance of essential Omega’s 3 and 6. These key attributes contribute to improving a horse’s overall condition, muscle recovery, joint and tissue health, circulation, muscle and topline development and overall health and wellbeing.
From conception to production, Emily, Josh and Maggie are very proud to bring a balanced, fresh, NZ made approach to equine nutrition to the market. The core values and beliefs of the business are producing wholesome, full-bodied and balanced feeds with a sustainable, traceable approach made here in Mid-Canterbury.