On the 23rd of February, I depart from Japan and arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal on the 24th. My trip to Nepal is connected to my studies at Hiroshima University in the Taoyaka program. I am a first year student and have been studying 衣食住〔ishokujuu) and how this topic relates to Hemp. Hemp or cannabis sativa, is an industrial crop used in a variety of products, more traditionally used in textiles, like rope; however, the seeds have nutritional value containing fats, amino acids, minerals, and omega 3s, which can be eaten ground, roasted, or pressed into oil., The hurd and fibers can be used as a building material, and studies are being conducted to use the fiber as a fiber glass/carbon fiber alternative.
As you may know, Nepal was struck with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25th of 2015, followed by aftershocks, one as large as 7.3 struck just 17 days later. The Taoyaka program students will be focusing on building materials and residential reconstruction efforts. Even though two years have past since this earth quake very little progress has been made on the reconstruction efforts.
My major focus will be an investigation of hemp utilization in a village within the southern district of Dhanusa. I will be in Nepal for a total of 36 days. In the first part of this trip, I will travel down to Janakpur and visit villages of the dalit community, one of the "oppressed" caste communities in Nepal. There I will link up with the organization SHIV, Shah Hemp Inno-ventures. SHIV is an organization that is headed by Dhiraj K. Shah and Nivedita Bansal, and has been working to create hemp awareness, understanding of building techniques and design, and also are producing hemp textiles.
Midway through this trip, I will be meeting with other members of the Taoyaka Program from Hiroshima University. We will conduct surveys and studies of other building materials. We will also link up with Texas University and the Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University. My group specifically will be looking at earth bag houses, and other groups will be looking at conventional structures, rammed earth, hempcrete, bamboo housing, and compressed earth brick. We will meet with professionals in the field, who will each describe their unique methods for building in Nepal. This study will finish with a "home stay" at a remote village two hours outside of Kathmandu, Nepal. I will depart from the group work and return to my solo investigation in southern Nepal.
Toward the end of this trip I will return to SHIV and continue to conduct research and lend a hand to the hemp building and community project. I will continue to update this blog with pictures, information about Ishokuju, Nepal, and anything particularly interesting.
Our farm, Pitchfork farms, wants to go beyond our beds and borders, dig deep, and reach out to many different places. The value of "sustainable" living and concentrating on the theme of "Ishokuju" as a way forward to building dynamic and resilient communites in Japan and abroad is just beginning. To find out more please continue to follow our progress, send us a message, email or comment. If our topics are interesting share them with friends, family and your community.
Please look at the link below for how you can help and provide funding toward the efforts that SHIV is making. There crowdfunding campaign has just begun!