The industrial food system pushes farmers and consumers apart. So how do we meaningfully bring them back together in a commercial context?
Regenerative agriculture is about working with whole systems, not isolated parts.
The reason for this is that the relationships between the microbes in the soil, water cycles, plants and animals (to name a few) are symbiotic, meaning each element in the ecosystem is mutually dependent on every other.
So, if the water cycle is compromised, say, the entire ecosystem degrades.
We, at Wide Open Agriculture (WOA), believe that the business world is the same.
The industrial paradigm of consuming more and destroying more can’t continue at the current pace.
If people and the planet are going to thrive in the future, we have to switch to a mindset where, like regenerative agriculture, the success on each part—environmental, social, economic—depends on the success of the whole.
As a company that seeks four (4) returns—financial, environmental, social and inspirational returns—we created a business model that guides us in delivering and capturing value in all four contexts.
As with every company, our business model tells a lot about us. So we thought we would briefly share with you some of the key elements and show what’s possible when a company builds a whole-system approach into its DNA.
The industrial food system is a linear business model that’s built around maximizing scalability and efficiency.
This, of course, has allowed us to shop at the supermarket any time of the year and get almost anything we desire for cheap.
But the system is also primarily driven by profit and, in doing so, has compromised the environment and communities (in the Wheatbelt, even), as well as pushed farmers and consumers further apart.
As we now know, the current food system has caused the degeneration of ecosystems around the world and, as a measurable consequence of that, now accounts for 24% of greehouse gas emissions.
We, at WOA, exist to change all that by reinventing the way the world grows, thinks about and buys food to create a better future for people and the planet.
In turn, instead of a linear model, we use an infinity-loop one, which, like symbiotic relationships in an ecosystem, is about creating stronger relationships between people, the environment and the business world.
The business model
Largely our role is about identifying and removing blockages that allow for the growth of regenerative farming and food in Australia (and beyond). We aim to be the conduit that connects regenerative farmers and conscious consumers.
Our goal is to host a sort of regenerative dance between these agents of change if you will.
At the moment, we are achieving this by partnering with producers and, through our consumer-facing online food brand Dirty Clean Food, we sell and deliver these locally-sourced, ethically-produced food to a growing market of conscious eaters.
In doing so, we’re able to celebrate the origins of the food, building and reinstating the essential trust between producers and consumers.
Plus—seeing as we’re bypassing the current system and taking out an extra middle-person, as well as leveraging the digital world to streamline processes—we can pay farmers a premium while still selling superior produce that regenerates the planet for affordable prices.
Through this infinity-loop model in today’s modern context, we can still scale and maximise efficiency, only now we’re able to do it in a way that brings the environment and people along with us. As we help nurture a community of regenerative food-eaters, we can grow, along with the demand for regenerative farming.
This story is original content from Ben Cole and was first published here