There’s a stall at the Catalina Bay Farmers’ Market that’s well and truly ahead of its time. It specialises in hemp products – predicted to kick off around the world as the latest superfood. 

Founded by Sam Innes and Joelle Mihaere in 2019, The Oil Project’s mission is to introduce high-quality, organic, NZ-grown hemp products to Kiwis in the most sustainable way possible. 

Our bodies require omega fatty acids to work well, but to be absorbed efficiently they need to be available in a certain ratio. Hemp oil contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 3:1, which is just right. It’s higher in essential fatty acids and tastier than both fish oils and flaxseed oil, and has important anti-inflammatory qualities that can help with heart health. You can read more about its health benefits hereThe Oil Project’s range includes hemp seeds and hearts (the soft, de-shelled centre of the seed), cold pressed hemp oil and hemp protein – a clean plant protein for exercise recovery. Hemp oil, seeds and hearts have a deliciously nutty flavour - great with cereals or smoothies, in salad dressings, or drizzled over roast vegetables or avocado toast. 

Sam and Joelle are now also offering cosmetic products: a gorgeous hemp body oil with lemon and tea tree, as well as a makeup remover and body balm. A 2014 study showed that hemp oil can soothe eczema and acne, and may even contribute to making your skin more resistant to infection. 

The Oil Project is committed to the health of the planet, with all packaging being recycled, plant-based and/or compostable. They use Ecowrap (an eco-friendly version of bubble-wrap) and compostable mailer bags, too. 

Sam and Joelle have shared their fantastic recipe for Hemp-Crusted Salmon with us – upping the health benefits of fish by adding nutty hemp hearts to a crunchy, herby crust.

Hemp Crusted Salmon (serves 4)

4 salmon fillets

1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

1/4 cup The Oil Project Aotearoa Hemp Hearts

1 teaspoon dried basil or dill

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1–2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Lemon wedges for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°C. Line a baking sheet with foil. Add salmon, skin side down, and rub a little olive oil over each fillet. Combine hemp hearts, grated cheese, basil or dill, parsley, 1 tsp olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. 

Cover the top of each fillet with the hemp heart and cheese mixture and press on gently with clean fingers. 

Place crusted salmon in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until it flakes easily with a fork, then switch oven to grill for two minutes to ensure a crisp golden-brown crust. 

Serve salmon with a wedge of lemon. Add a salad or steamed green vegetables drizzled with hemp oil and lemon juice.

You can find The Oil Project at the Catalina Bay Farmers Market, open every Friday-Sunday from 8.30am-2pm.