Kane County hemp producer urges its use in green construction

The Northern Illinois Hemp Hub in Maple Park is holding two days of hands-on workshops on Hempcrete from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, June 20-21, according to a news release.

Kelly and Jarett Burke own 160 acres at 45W223 Lees Road in Maple Park where they have a bar, restaurant and equine boarding — as well as 10 acres of hemp. The Burkes are planning to build what they call the Hemp Hub, using hemp to create a type of concrete to use for the walls of homes or commercial buildings.

Hemp is in the same plant family as cannabis sativa, but is used in commercial and industrial products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation and biofuel, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“The builder makes money on rebates because it’s green and carbon negative,” Kelly Burke said. “It will save 20% to 70% on utility bills. … We’ve been working on this since 2017.”

Their company is called Kifcure, which seeks to pioneer green development initiatives in construction by offering sustainable building material alternatives.

The workshop will be a demonstration of the first permitted hempcrete structure in the state, she said, focusing on using hemp-based building materials, according to a news release.

Northern Illinois Hemp Hub will demonstrate using hemp as building material during workshops Thursday and Friday in Maple Park. A wall built with hemp is part of the demonstration. Courtesy of Kelly Burke

Participants will see how to use hemp as a building material while engaging with experts covering everything from mixing and molding to building with hempcrete, according to the release.

On Friday, the U.S. Heritage Group will lead an American Institute of Architects Continuing Education Services Learning Units accredited course on hempcrete wall systems for designing and installing in residential construction.

Industry leaders will focus on commercially available hemp construction materials such as hemplime, hempcrete, hemp insulation, and hemp wood products.

“We’re excited to offer this unique opportunity for individuals in the building and construction industries to explore the potential of hemp as a viable construction material,” said Kelly Burke, Kifcure’s chief operating officer.

“With the recent advancements in the International Building Code, hemp-based materials are gaining recognition for their environmental benefits,” Burke said. “We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with world-renowned leaders and to be located in a county that supports green infrastructure initiatives like this educational workshop.”

The cost to attend is $200, registration is online at

U.S. Hemp Building Association members receive half off and free visitor passes are available for policymakers and university students within applicable disciplines.

The workshop is made possible through the contributions of Lower Sioux Hemp, Hemp for Humanity, U.S. Heritage Group, JM Construction Pros, Illinois Hemp Growers Association, University of Illinois, Tiger Fiber, BestLine Building Products, Emerald Acres, Razbit, Rooted Development, Kane County Development, Mallek Real Estate and the U.S. Hemp Building Association.

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