Colorado Industrial Hemp Supply co-founder John Patterson demonstrates the fire resistance of hemp insulation. CIHS is working to rebuild a home that was lost in the High Park fire in 2012; the project will use various hemp building materials. (Provided by CIHS)

Hemp cabin in Colo. high country to showcase the plant’s possibilities

Melissa Rabe was already interested in the applications and benefits of industrial hemp two years ago when the High Park Fire charred more than 87,000 acres and 250 homes in the mountains west of Fort Collins, including a 40-year-old cabin that one of her good friends had built by hand.

“He was disappointed and saddened and thinking he would never go back there,” Rabe recalls of the wildfire loss suffered in 2012. She and her husband, John Rabe, decided to pitch their friend on the idea of rebuilding his retreat in the high country predominantly with hemp-based materials.

Melissa Rabe has been retelling the story of how she, her husband and their business partner John Patterson embarked on the adventure of building a hemp cabin this week as part of events nationwide honoring the fifth annual observance of Hemp History Week, June 2-8.

“Hemp insulation works like a Gortex jacket for your home,” says Melissa Rabe, co-founder of Colorado Industrial Hemp Supply, LLC. “It’s breathable, absorbs water and regulates humidity. … Hemp is also fire retardant, mold- and mildew-resistant, and anti-pest and bug.”

It was an easy sell for Patterson, who has since studied alongside out-of-state hemp builders and worked with the Rabes, largely in their garage, to develop Colorado-friendly hemp building materials. The friends also founded their hemp construction and consultation company. In addition to completing the hemp cabin, plans for which were recently approved by Larimer County, Colorado Industrial Hemp Supply aspires to train other contractors to maximize hemp building materials.

“My husband and I have become healthier people” because of hemp products, says Rabe, who has incorporated hemp clothing, cosmetics and supplements into her life.

Hemp consumers can find out more about the hemp cabin and the company behind it when Rabe pitches in with Hemp Seed Revival events Thursday, June 5 at Whole Foods Market Fort Collins (2201 S. College Ave.) and Friday, June 6 at The Crunchy Grocer (1461 E. Eisenhower Blvd., Loveland).

The revival’s big day is Saturday, June 7 at Avogadro’s Number (605 S. Mason St., Fort Collins). The ticketed festival includes giveaways, exhibitors, kids activities, music, movies and more (Rabe will be there too).

Click here for a list of other Colorado events pegged to Hemp History Week.

Update made on June 6 at 6:50 a.m.: The following correction was made: The owner of the cabin destroyed in 2012 was misreported. John Patterson is solely a business partner with Colorado Industrial Hemp Supply, LLC.