Australia

Landscape partner

Wide Open Agriculture (WOA), Danjoo Koorliny Social Impact Project at the Centre for Social Impact University of Western Australia (CSI UWA), The Noongar Land Enterprise Group, The Regional Regeneration Alliance (RRA), Sustain, RegenWA and Perth NRM, Regenfarming.news, Impact Seed

Landscape

Western Australia

Total area (ha)

300,000+

Stakeholders

300+

Business cases identified or set up

3

Active since

2015

Mission in the landscape

 

The southwest of Western Australia is the home of the Noongar nation, the largest Aboriginal group in Australia. In the past 60,000 years, Noongar people have developed a blueprint for ecological, social and cultural harmony within boodja (or land, country). Boodja provides food, shelter, medicine, stories and the foundation for a strong society. Land management – through cultural burning and many other practices – expresses an understanding of, connection to, and caring for the land and its spirits.

 

Commonland was introduced to the West Australian landscape in 2015 as a founding partner of Wide Open Agriculture (WOA). In 2018, WOA became the first publicly listed 4 Returns company globally and currently has a market capitalisation of A$90m. Through the entry point of WOA as a regenerative business, Commonland gradually began working with more partners to support the 4 Returns in Western Australia. Commonland’s partnerships in the West Australian landscape now include:

 

  • Wide Open Agriculture: Western Australia’s leading regenerative food and farming company connecting regenerative farmers to conscious consumers through the Dirty Clean Food brand and platform.
  • The Danjoo Koorliny Social Impact Project hosted by the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Social Impact: a bold, long-term, large-scale, Aboriginal-led systems change project to help us walk together towards 2029 and beyond.
  • RegenWA: a network of committed West Australian farmers and industry stakeholders identifying, implementing and sharing innovative land management practices that other farmers can adopt.
  • The Noongar Land Enterprise Group: a leading Aboriginal grower group, developing commercially viable, land-based businesses in Western Australia.
  • The Regional Regeneration Alliance: A cross-regional impact, not for profit organisation aimed at developing and supporting sustainable land, economic and community regeneration projects.
  • Sustain and the Food for Thought Festival: mobilising communities around the linkages between food, human and farm health.
  • Regenfarming.news: a global digital marketplace for news, training, jobs and expert services in the regenerative agriculture sector. 
  • Impact Seed: Western Australia’s leading impact investment capacity builder.

What happened in 2020?

Despite COVID-19, WOA successfully pivoted its Dirty Clean Food offer from restaurants and food service to an online platform for home delivery. New products were added, including West Australia’s very first regenerative oat milk. In 2020, WOA also agreed with Curtin University to develop a new lupin-based protein that can be used to create alternative meat, dairy, beverage and convenience food products.

 

Throughout 2020, WOA’s board and team focused on pivoting the business model to remove blockages to expand the regenerative food and agriculture sector in Western Australia. By 31 December 2020, Wide Open Agriculture had recorded its sixth consecutive quarter of revenue growth and successfully raised A$12 million to invest in its growth strategy.

 

The Aboriginal-led ‘Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together towards 2029 and beyond Social Impact Project’ continued to grow with the second Danjoo Koorliny Social Impact Festival held in August. The Danjoo Koorliny Caring for Country Lab continued in 2020 with two global symposiums and an on-country meeting with senior government leaders about cultural burning, a water symposium with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, policy co-design workshops and panels with senior government leaders, and a WA Commonland partners meeting. Other significant events included the Full Moon celebration and Song and the Noongar Summit. The Danjoo Koorliny Elders also participated in several panels and discussions with the Western Australian Government’s senior leaders, placing cultural leadership alongside political leadership. 

 

Danjoo Koorliny’s leaders at a leadership council panel session in which they discussing policy co-design in the public sector.

RegenWA, administered by Perth NRM, continued to facilitate farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchanges with more than 230 participants attending on-farm events while the RegenWA’s membership base reached almost 1,000. The Natural Capital Accounting pilot led by Perth NRM developed five geographically dispersed case studies showcasing on-farm practices that build natural capital with funding now secured for scaling up this initiative. The Regional Regeneration Alliance strengthened its relationship with Murdoch University. It co-developed a pilot project, ‘Inland Algae production in the Wheatbelt’ – which looks to address salinity issues by producing high-value products for the nutraceutical industry.

 

Late 2020, Regenfarming.news was acquired by the newly established Carbon Farming Foundation (CFF). Commonland will continue to support Regenfarming.news under the CFF umbrella.

New partnerships

 

In addition to deepening and consolidating our relationships with existing partners in 2020, we also established new partnerships to deliver the 4 Returns in the long term in Western Australia.

 

We joined forces with the Noongar Land Enterprise Group (NLE), a leading Aboriginal grower group, to develop commercially viable, land-based businesses. The NLE aims to (re)connect members and the wider community to Noongar country and language and protect and nurture the country for future generations. By sharing their knowledge of the land, Noongar people and the NLE can shape business aspirations such as cultural tourism and bush foods. Together with the COmON Foundation, Commonland supported the NLE in purchasing a tree nursery in late 2020, with forward orders of more than 1 million native, diverse seedlings secured by 31 December 2020. The nursery has been renamed Boola Boornap, which means “Place of many trees” in the Noongar language.

 

Boola Boornap tree nursery.

950,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
12,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
3
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
  • Wheatbelt
  • 1 : 240

5-year ambition:

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

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.

5-year ambition:

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

5-year ambition:

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

2020 Australia

  • Wheatbelt
  • 1 : 240

950,000
People exposed to the opportunity of 4 Returns landscape restoration
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

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

100
Direct and indirect jobs created or supported
  • 2020
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.

12,000
Hectares under improved regenerative/restoration management
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

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

3
Business cases identified or set up by landscape partners
  • 2020
5-year ambition:

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

Stories of change

Aboriginal-led social impact festival

 

In August 2020 (the Aboriginal season of Djilba), the second Danjoo Koorliny Social Impact Festival to celebrate community cohesion, share cultural knowledge and inspire cultural strength, took place. This annual event brings Abriginal and non-Aboriginal people together to see what has shifted in the last year and set our focus for the year(s) ahead.

 

Designed and led by Aboriginal Elders and leaders, this project and festival works on large-scale, long-term system change. The two-day festival summit hosted keynote lectures, workshops, panel presentations and yarning circles, showing positive change in several social areas and co-discovering the most important steps for moving forward. 

 

The project helps us all walk together towards 2029 (200 years of colonisation in Perth) and beyond – be it on Noongar country, throughout Western Australia, nationally, or around the world. The festival is hosted by the Centre for Social Impact at the University of Western Australia, in partnership with Commonland and various other organisations.

 

“Aboriginal people have had a blueprint for environmental, cultural and social harmony for over 60,000 years. And this is something that can help not just Aboriginal people, but everyone.”

- Richard Walley, Noongar Elder and co-leader Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Project.

Visual scribing from the 2020 Danjoo Koorliny Social Impact Festival by Zoe Street and Sharon Clifford.

Aboriginal-led Meeka Moorart Full Moon ceremonies bringing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together to care for Boodja.

Oatup: the world’s first carbon-neutral plant-based milk 

 

In December 2020, Western Australia’s first regenerative, carbon-neutral oat milk had completed its one calendar year journey from concept to launch. OatUp milk was stocked in more than 40 retailers’ supermarkets and cafes across Western Australia and is available through Dirty Clean Food. This online platform by Wide Open Agriculture (WOA) connects consumers directly to farmers.

 

OatUp is a great example of the commercial potential of WOA’s plant-based protein business:

 

  • The first milk made from Western Australian oats grown by farmers committed to healing the landscape through regenerative farming practices.
  • Praised by consumers for its taste, foaming capacity, and environmental credentials.
  • Certified as carbon neutral: the Australian government-backed initiative for climate action.

Managing Director Ben Cole said, “Launching our first packaged product into the A$2.8bn plant-based milk category is an immense step forward for WOA. OatUp will offer a new pathway for WOA’s regenerative oat growers to reach conscious food consumers in Australia and Asia.”