Australia

Landscape partner

Wide Open Agriculture (WOA), Regional Regeneration Alliance (RRA), University of Western Australia – Centre for Social Impact (UWA-CSI), Sustain, RegenWA, AgTalent, The Noongar Land Enterprise Group

Landscape

Western Australia

Total area (ha)

~500,000 hectares landscape, 25,911 under improved management (WOA)

Stakeholders

in total 100+

Business cases identified or set up

in total +5

Active since

2015

Mission in the landscape

 

In late 2018 Commonland pivoted its strategy in Western Australia to work with an ecosystem of partners committed to delivering the

4 Returns. Commonland has recognised that delivering 4 Returns should not be the responsibility of one private-sector organisation (WOA) but rather requires the strength, skills and experience of multiple partners.

By working with an ecosystem of partners, we are seeking to create an enabling environment to nurture and deliver 4 returns across WA’s landscape. Accompanying the world’s first publicly listed 4 Returns company (WOA) are Commonland’s new WA partners. They include:

 

  • AgTalent / Regenfarming.news: a digital marketplace for training, jobs and expert services in the regenerative agriculture sector and social & natural returns
  • Centre for Social Impact: at the University of Western Australia; sector coordination and inspirational returns
  • Regional Regeneration Alliance: regional enterprise development and social returns
  • RegenWA: farmer coordination and advocacy/social returns
  • Sustain: food system change supporting communities, individuals and ecosystems and inspiration/social returns
  • Noongar Land Enterprise Group: NLE is a leading Aboriginal grower group, developing commercially viable, land-based businesses in Western Australia.

Stories of change

Mr Nick Kelly, a fifth-generation farmer connected to the farmer network of WOA and has adopted regenerative farming principles on his farm and is becoming a leading regenerative farmer in the area. Photo by Jo Ashworth Photography via Farm Weekly

Inspired farmer

Nick Kelly, a leading regenerative farmer, based in the South-Eastern Wheatbelt, told the story of how, since the arrival of WOA and more recently, after a national media story, his relationship with neighbouring farmers had been dramatically impacted. He transitioned his conventional farm to a regenerative farming system.

He told the story of how a neighbour who was a strong proponent of intensive chemical farming had driven to the regenerative farmer’s home to say that after watching the news story he wanted to know “everything he could learn” from the regenerative farmer.

“We are finding that people who start down this path and see some success, they can start seeing the future of it and they just naturally start to go after it, they start to want to get rid of their chemicals and their fertilisers and things. It seems to be a natural progression, when people get it.”

Aboriginal Elders and leaders design & lead Social Impact Festival (SIF)

July 2019 marked the start of the Danjo Koorliny Walking Together initiative in Western Australia. This year, the annual Social Impact Festival – one of the most important impact festivals driving social change in Western Australia – was designed and led by Aboriginal (Noongar)

Elders and leaders ‘to help us all walk together as Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal people towards 2029’ (200 years of colonisation in Perth, Western Australia), and beyond. The event was a sold-out success, with many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders attending and offering their support.

A key part of Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together is how we can better care for the land, food, and communities by allowing Aboriginal people to design and lead regeneration projects based on 65,000 years of unbroken wisdom (including the six-season cycle, kinship groups, the totemic system, Eldership governance and cultural burning). By having this process be led by Aboriginal people, modern approaches can continue to be used but will be further developed and fructified by ancient wisdom, while at the same time allowing for alignment around the central-purpose ‘fire’ of caring for country.

To achieve this, the Elders and leaders indicated they would like to continue working with Commonland because of the relationships already forged, and because of the common purpose of regeneration of landscapes and revitalisation of communities (as well as the ‘4-returns’ model that emphasises a return on social, natural, financial and inspirational/spiritual capital). The Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia (UWA-CSI) was chosen by the leaders to be the host and supporting organisation for the Danjoo Koorliny initiative. UWA-CSI has been working in partnership with Commonland since 2017. We look forward to further developing this inspiring collaboration for the benefit of boodja, mereny and moort (land, food and communities) in a way that is grounded in the ancient wisdom of this place.

Failing forward

WOA: Meeting needs of farmers, consumers and investors

 

WOA’s food brand, Dirty Clean Food has established itself as Western Australia’s premium, regenerative food brand. The food brand has over 30 retail partners and 800 online customers. WOA’s farmland investment/partnership model has been reviewed to ensure it can meet the needs of WOA, farmer and investors. WOA has developed significant financial modelling and due diligence knowledge and continues to deepen the understanding of the needs and expectations from all stakeholders in farmland management and carbon-related businesses.

Experience and knowledge gained will inform future decision making in terms of the future business model for farmland management and carbon-related businesses.

RRA: Collaborative partnerships

The biggest challenge the Regional Regeneration Alliance faces is ensuring the long term commitment of the 52 partners the Alliance works with. All levels of government cannot provide security of long-term projects, so it is important to nurture and develop other relationships. In 2019, the RRA reviewed its business model and is now focused on developing co-delivery projects with partner organisations so that they can activate more projects through a collective impact approach.

This, in turn, will create more success stories and confidence in this space of change. RRA will thus focus on nurturing communities and co-designing and empowering people to identify their own solutions to drive sustainable social change and connect them to collaborative partners and ideas to making a meaningful impact on the communities in which they live.

Here you can find some interesting case studies that RRA worked on including ‘Mushroom production in the Wheatbelt’ and ‘Inland Aquaculture in the Wheatbelt’.

5+ Business cases

WOA – 3 business cases

 

  • Sales and Distribution of regenerative products – grass-fed beef and lamb, oats and lupin
  • Shadehouse 2 (feasibility study);
  • Industrial Hemp R&D Agronomy & Seed Trial

 

AgTalent – 1 business case

 

  • Exploring opportunities for place-based farmer learning portals for the advancement of regenerative agriculture.

 

RRA – 2 business cases

 

  • Testing technical viability of 2 business investor-ready cases for food production enterprises in horticulture and aquaculture industries (funded by State Government).

 

Noongar Land Enterprise Group – 1 business case

 

  • The Noongar Lab Enterprise Group (NLE) launched the Yoordaninj- bah (“to bind together”) project at Avondale Farm near Beverley. This project is focused on developing an Aboriginal led Australian Bush Food Industry, specifically identifying bush food species which may benefit Aboriginal people through commercial production and Intellectual Property protection, and the broader community, through nutritional and medicinal value.

“We cannot do this alone. Without a compelling business case and buy-in from farmer partners, consumers, customers and our network, we wouldn’t survive as a business. We also discovered that we could not achieve on 4 Returns alone, whilst meeting the demands of being a publicly listed company and being able to focus our efforts towards a pathway to profitability - to do this we needed the support of network partners and through key strategic investments.”

- Ben Cole, Director Wide Open Agriculture

WOA Board member and regenerative farmer, Stuart McAlpine on his farm in the Northern Wheatbelt.

Social impact festival

The undoubted highlight of 2019 was the Danjoo Koorliny Social Impact Festival held in Perth. Commonland has been partnering with the University of Western Australia Centre for Social Impact since 2017, and it has been amazing to see how the festival has developed in that time, especially the connection to the land and the Noongar people – the indigenous Aboriginal people of Western Australia (https://www. noongarculture.org.au/).

Attendees of the 2-day summit held as part of the Aboriginal Elder led Danjoo Koorliny Social Impact Festival 2019.

Highlights

WOA

 

  • WOA launched first regenerative food brand in Australia –dirtycleanfood.com.au.
  • WOA is working with a revised new strategy that has a strong focus on building a regenerative food brand that is carbon neutral by 2023.
  • WOA has a commitment from 3 farmer partners to collaborate, together representing 23,814 hectares under improved holistic management. These 3 partners sell regeneratively produced, grass-fed beef or lamb:
    • Blackwood Valley Beef
    • Black Point Farm
    • Parron Dorper Lamb
  • WOA: 11 network partners, 5 farmer partners & supplier and 35 restaurants and 64 online customers.

 

UWA-CSI

 

  • UWA-CSI’s Social Impact Festival reached 11,000 people through engagement and 300+ grad certificates for Social Impact alumni + 500+ conference participants and over 100 speakers. See more.

 

AgTalent

 

  • Agtalent’s reach and take-up: 327 e-mail subscribers; 695 Facebook followers; 80,000 page views and 11,400 unique visitors since June 2019, 84 uptakes on full suite of services (individual users, experts subscribed, training events listed and jobs listed). Read more: AgFunder News.

 

RegenWA

 

  • 145 farmers in RegenWA network.
  • 387 people at RegenWA hosted events and approximately 100 engaged through events and over 708 newsletter.
  • The majority of farmers in WA have now heard of regenerative agriculture whereas two years ago this was not the case. Farmers are more positive towards regenerative agriculture than the scientific and academic community.
  • The RegenWA team, including steering committee are working and networking with around 15 industry stakeholders groups.

 

Regional Regeneration Alliance (RRA)

 

  • RRA website was launched in June and included a FREE Intake Assessment for communities.
  • RRA has developed collaborative partnerships for collective impact (funders, project partners, capacity builders, innovators) with at least 12 partners including Impact Seed, Meshpoints, RegenWA, Wide Open Agriculture, UWA Centre for Social Impact, Regional Australia Institute, Wheatbelt Business Network, Rotary Australia, Lotterywest, Thrive Wheatbelt, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, WA Open for Business.

"Ultimately, I would love to have a healthy and vibrant farm that we can pass onto the next generation, a business that is resilient and profitable, and children returning to farming to grow nutritious food for future generations.”

– Warren & Lori Pensini

Key strategic investments

 

WOA, supported by Commonland, secured a 28% stake in AgTalent: a digital marketplace for training, recruitment and expert services in the sustainable and regenerative agriculture sector. The investment was in recognition of the immense challenge to identify and engage new and young farmers in regenerative practices both in WA and globally. The tech company has a global outreach but also offers a direct connection point with building WOA network of regenerative farmers in the Wheatbelt and across WA.

Current and proposed land uses of East Kulinbah Farm.

East Kulinbah property

 

More than sixty different species were used in the planting of 23,000 seedlings at WOA’s East Kulinbah property as part of the 3-zone implementation. The seedlings are all safely in the soil and enjoyed some well-timed rain immediately after planting. This planting brings the nature zone up to 20% of the total farm area, complementing the combined zone planting of perennial forage shrubs in 2017.

Food brand: Dirty Clean Food

 

WOA launched its new food brand Dirty Clean Food together with a direct-to-consumer online sales platform for products grown by farmers who are committed to regenerative farming practices. The platform connects farmers who produce meat using holistic and regenerative methods with restaurant, retail and online consumers. A sales total of $400,000 was achieved in the second half of 2019 (June to December).

Milestones 2019

99
customers purchasing a Dirty Clean
Food™ product
19
direct and indirect jobs created or supported
25,911
hectares under improved holistic management
3
business cases identified or set up
  • 2019
  • Wheatbelt
  • 1 : 240

5-year ambition:

5,000 consumers and 10 farmers participate in new food and farm system.

Year 2:

In 2019 WOA had 64
online consumers and 35 restaurants/food service customers purchasing a Dirty Clean Food™ product with 5,599 followers
on social media and 3 new farmer partners either signing a WOAPP (Production Protocols) or Supplier Agreement.

5-year ambition:

Facilitate opportunities for regenerative entrepreneurship and skill development in target landscape - at least
20 trainings or farmer exchange events in collaboration with 5 long- term network partners.

Year 2:

In 2019, WOA provided direct employment, and supported indirect roles or key consultancies to 19
people. Our farmer partners or suppliers attended 8 events and are members
of 12 organisations based in WA region. WOA staff attended 19 community or industry events. WOA
collaborates with 10 network partners.

5-year ambition:

Help facilitate ecosystem health regeneration, increased number of hectares under improved management (in WOA’s land portfolio and through collaboration).

Year 2:

In 2019 WOA received commitments from 3 farmer partners together representing 25,911 hectares under improved holistic management following
the Soil Carbon Initiative commitments and performance areas.

5-year ambition:

Create a financially profitable 4Returns
company that can reinvest and diversify regenerative commercial ventures.

Year 2:

WOA posted a loss as per its Annual Report issued in June 2019. The company
commenced domestic sales of grass-fed beef and lamb to restaurants and food sector in June 2019, allowing the company to show a pathway to profitability with sales revenue of $400,000 in six months of operation.

Australia

  • Wheatbelt
  • 1 : 240

99
customers purchasing a Dirty Clean
Food™ product
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

5,000 consumers and 10 farmers participate in new food and farm system.

Year 2:

In 2019 WOA had 64
online consumers and 35 restaurants/food service customers purchasing a Dirty Clean Food™ product with 5,599 followers
on social media and 3 new farmer partners either signing a WOAPP (Production Protocols) or Supplier Agreement.

19
direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

Facilitate opportunities for regenerative entrepreneurship and skill development in target landscape - at least
20 trainings or farmer exchange events in collaboration with 5 long- term network partners.

Year 2:

In 2019, WOA provided direct employment, and supported indirect roles or key consultancies to 19
people. Our farmer partners or suppliers attended 8 events and are members
of 12 organisations based in WA region. WOA staff attended 19 community or industry events. WOA
collaborates with 10 network partners.

25,911
hectares under improved holistic management
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

Help facilitate ecosystem health regeneration, increased number of hectares under improved management (in WOA’s land portfolio and through collaboration).

Year 2:

In 2019 WOA received commitments from 3 farmer partners together representing 25,911 hectares under improved holistic management following
the Soil Carbon Initiative commitments and performance areas.

3
business cases identified or set up
  • 2019
5-year ambition:

Create a financially profitable 4Returns
company that can reinvest and diversify regenerative commercial ventures.

Year 2:

WOA posted a loss as per its Annual Report issued in June 2019. The company
commenced domestic sales of grass-fed beef and lamb to restaurants and food sector in June 2019, allowing the company to show a pathway to profitability with sales revenue of $400,000 in six months of operation.