In early 2015, Commonland became a founding shareholder and partner of Wide Open Agriculture (WOA), Western Australia’s leading regenerative food company. Using the 4 Returns framework, WOA focuses on transforming degraded and depopulated farming landscapes by providing inspirational solutions designed to create new jobs and business opportunities; by enhancing biodiversity and building soil health; and by restoring waterways in the region. Together with WOA and our other partners, Commonland is supporting the transformation of Western Australia’s food and agriculture system to build a healthier world.

In July 2018, WOA became the world’s first 4 Returns public company listed. With over 450 investors and AUD $5m in capital raised from West Australians, farmers, Wheatbelt residents and Commonland’s own network. WOA is demonstrating how to shift a 4 Returns framework into a viable business model in the Wheatbelt and beyond.

The 4 Returns approach really resonated with me. Especially the focus of hope and increased wellbeing. It was important to have it framed in a business model.
Stuart McAlpine, regenerative farmer and WOA Board member, Western Australian Wheatbelt

Since 2018, Commonland’s involvement in the landscape has expanded to support other organizations seeking to transform Western Australia’s food and agriculture system. We are proud to be partnering with the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Social Impact (UWA SCI), RegenWA, Sustain: the Australian Food Network and the Regional Regeneration Alliance.

To date, the 4 Returns framework has positively impacted approximately 10,000 people either directly or indirectly. The 4 Returns framework has triggered innovative ecologically-based farming practices enabled by sustainable water management systems. It has also led to measures to restore the soils and biodiversity and introduced a scale-up approach that helps attract equity from retail and institutional investors.

For me, the strongest attribute around what we’re creating here is that it’s a global network.
Ben Cole, managing director Wide Open Agriculture

Moving forward, Commonland will continue to support our partners to provide hope and opportunity to the wider Western Australian community.

 

Photography by Wide Open Agriculture

Inspiration
Giving people hope and a sense of purpose.
Social Capital
Bringing back jobs, business activity, education and security.
Natural Capital
Restoring biodiversity, soil, water quality and capturing carbon.
Financial Capital
Realizing long-term sustainable profit.

Current status

To date, 10,000 people have been either inspired or positively affected by our 4 Returns framework.

 

 

 

 

In 2018 WOA had 413 investors, connected with over 350 farmers and engaged with 400 community members, 1,000 unique customers and 2,100 online followers.

 

Current status

10 jobs created and supported in 2018.

 

The sheer size and low population density of the Wheatbelt creates labour challenges. WOA has created and/or supported multiple jobs to-date. WOA currently works with five natural resource management and farmer groups to continually seek out new opportunities to contribute towards a sustainable food and agriculture movement in Western Australia.

 

Current status

The goal is 10,000 hectares operating under 4 Returns framework by 2023.

 

 

In 2018 WOA added more than 2,100 hectares to its improved management portfolio in Buntine, Andover and the Wedge. Land for Reasons took its first steps towards Wheatbelt land transformation.

Current status

The world’s first 4 Returns publicly listed company om the Australian Stock Exchange.

 

 

 

WOA’s public offering attracted some 400 investors and AUD$5 million in capital. The diverse network of investors included stockbrokers and wheatbelt farmers, community members and people from Commonland’s own global network. WOA’s food brand “Dirty Clean Food” has recently been launched.

Zones

The 4 Returns holistic framework breaks down landscape restoration into 3 distinct landscape zones – natural, economic and combined.

Natural zone
Combined zone
Economic zone

 

Regenerating a landscape’s ecological foundation by restoring and protecting native vegetation, trees, and biodiversity.
Native vegetation at the Andover property, which is managed through a partnership between regenerative farmers, investors and WOA.

Native vegetation at the Andover property, which is managed through a partnership between regenerative farmers, investors and WOA.

Activities

Farmer mobilisation and engagement through RegenWA program and WOA outreach activities; remnant vegetation and native habitat protection on existing farms; broader community and stakeholder mobilisation through bringing food, landscape and community restoration onto the broader social change agenda via the Social Impact Festival (UWA SCI) and Food for Thought Festival (Sustain).

 

Restoring the topsoil and biodiversity, and delivering sustainable economic returns through regenerative agriculture, agroforestry and rotational grazing.
Rotational sheep grazing

Rotational sheep grazing

Activities

Supporting the next generation of regenerative farmers through a pilot scholarship program; community regeneration through business case development and local / state government involvement with the Regional Regeneration Alliance; research & development, particularly focused around long-term impact of regenerative agriculture.

 

To deliver sustainable economic productivity with dedicated areas for value-adding activities like processing. This zone is typically concentrated in urban areas.

The Andover property: a property managed through a partnership between regenerative farmers, investors and WOA.

The Andover property: a property managed through a partnership between regenerative farmers, investors and WOA.

Activities

Developing 4 Returns business cases under the WOA banner, including a regenerative meat distribution business, industrial hemp production, farmland portfolio fund; investment fundraising and management under WOA listed structure and farmland portfolio fund.