Almost a year after launching Harvest to Hand, Holleigh Ellis is thrilled with the direction the company is heading in.
She, along with her father Ian Ellis and her fiance Dylan Pearce, run the business from the family farm in Central Hawke's Bay.
Holleigh, 25, a University of Otago food science and marketing graduate, was keen to use her knowledge to develop delicious and nutritious hemp products.
"I have always loved health products and I love the fact that hemp is so easy to grow," Holleigh said.
"The whole plant is utilised and there are absolutely no chemical solvents or additives in our range. We were already growing it for other companies so it was the perfect opportunity to follow my dream and start up a food company."
Harvest to Hand's products, hemp hearts (or seeds, as they're sometimes known), hemp oil, hemp flour and hemp protein powder, are gaining more and more recognition.
The Hemp Hearts are hemp seeds with the outer shell removed through a mechanical process so again there are no chemicals or solvents added.
"Hemp is already highly regarded as a complete source of plant protein, containing all the essential amino acids our bodies need but can't produce themselves. And it also has a wonderfully unique ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 to aid brain function, relieve inflammation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol in the body, and hydrate cells."
Holleigh says they started out selling their products at the Black Barn Markets.
"We went to some of the smaller markets just to get our name out there. Today our products can be found at health food stores and some whole sale stores. They are also available online.
"I really enjoy going to food shows and telling people about our products. People don't really know a lot about hemp so having the products in front of them so they can touch and taste makes a huge difference."
She says her dad Ian is an experienced hemp farmer and contract grower so when she and Dylan, 27, "invited him over for dinner" to discuss their plan, "he immediately understood how a run of our own hemp products would be a fantastic, fully traceable farm-to-market concept, and jumped on board".
Approximately 60 hectares of Harvest to Hand hemp later (the crop grows in just four months, and is harvested in April), Holleigh says she's delighted to be delivering a fresh batch of the family's premium products to market.
"Dylan and I love the hemp hearts the best – they are so versatile. We throw them on every dish to make sure we're getting plenty of protein and Omegas each day – they're really great sprinkled over avocado on toast, salads and in a zingy pesto. Again, our oil goes on to most of our dinners – we'll just drizzle it over the top, no matter what the dish is! It has a lovely subtle nutty flavour that people really love.
"We are constantly getting feedback about how great Harvest to Hand tastes, and how versatile it is. Because it has a slightly nutty profile, it can swing to either sweet or savoury in any meal.
"We also have a growing number of elderly customers taking the Hemp Oil for joint pain. Feedback has been amazing with some people noticing a difference within days," Holleigh said.
"I love what I do and it's fantastic being a part of a family business."
For more info go to harvesttohand.co.nz