Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

Mycelia Renewables is a social enterprise focused on supporting and enabling regenerative economy initiatives with Traditional Owners, rural businesses and regional communities, specifically in the areas of cultural and environmental governance and a fair transition to renewable energy.

Mycelia’s work on the ground to date is diverse and their value is far reaching, focussed on delivering tangible sustainability outcomes with communities, and aimed at strengthening and empowering through a service model of cooperative engagement, knowledge sharing, deep listening and co-design.

Mycelia has two central operations:

  1. Co-designing and owning or co-owning renewable energy projects with communities and small to medium enterprises (SMEs), to increase the amount of affordable renewable energy and to develop an independent income stream for Mycelia’s charitable purposes
  2. Supporting communities and SMEs to design and implement regenerative economy projects through their unique services at pro bono, low or full fee rates

Through an FRRR Not-For-Profit Fundraising Account, to date Mycelia has raised more than $70,000 to focus on engaging with local communities and SME’s across Victoria to co-design and implement renewable energy policies and strategies.

The group also created the Mycelia Energy Collective, an initiative which enables households and businesses with and without solar and batteries to share renewable energy through The People’s Grid. Currently supported by 104members, this has been their main focus of late. Mycelia is seeking additional funding to boost organisational capacity over the next 2-3 years to fast track the work being done to hone the Mycelia Energy Collective model to a scale that ensures a sustainable revenue stream. They are also developing partnerships with communities that wish to replicate the model.

In addition to further developing the Collective offerings, Mycelia would like to engage an organisation that can measure and report on the different benefits of the Mycelia Energy Collective, specifically social impact measurements through a community-wealth building lens to clearly demonstrate the value to other communities and future funders.

The work that Mycelia is doing closely aligns to many of FRRR’s purposes and objectives and is a good example of how FRRR can support organisations and communities to raise funds that align to our vision to enhance the long-term vitality and sustainability of remote and rural communities across the country. If you’d like to support them, you can do so via their Fundraising Account.

If your group has a similar project, contact Jo Kemp to explore whether a Fundraising Account could help your organisation achieve its goals.

Environs Kimberley (EK) is the peak not-for-profit environmental organisation for the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. Since 1996 EK has been dedicated to conserving and protecting the Kimberley’s natural, environmental, and cultural values. EK has supported and coordinated cultural-natural resource management (CNRM) projects in the region since 2007.  

EK collaborates respectfully and over the long term with Aboriginal rangers and their communities, First Nations groups, community groups, government, and scientists to apply traditional knowledge and the best scientific methods to CNRM projects including: invasive species and fire management; ecosystem restoration, threatened species, ecological survey, and monitoring; eco-cultural documentation and education.

EK’s Kimberley Community Seedbank (KCS) project was established in 2015 and EK has been working to develop the Seedbank into a sustainable social enterprise that furthers the conservation and protection of the Kimberley’s incredible natural and cultural values. In 2020, Environs Kimberley received a Strengthen Rural Communities (SRC) grant of $24,995, thanks to John T Reid Charitable Trusts, as funding towards Strengthening the Kimberley Community Seedbank: a sustainable social enterprise project.

A First Nations-led bush resource industry can support Aboriginal communities across the Kimberley to participate in economic development on their own terms and to undertake meaningful and sustainable work on Country.  As a backdrop to this, the Australian bush resource industry has seen enormous growth over the past few decades, but despite this, a national survey by Bushfood Sensations (2019) found only 1% of the industry was led by First Nations people.

Hence, EK’s Sustainable Communities team has worked to build capacity for First Nations people to engage in and lead a Kimberley native plant resource industry. EK worked with four ranger groups to co-design business plans and complementary industry resources for two emerging social enterprises: Kimberley Seeds, and Wattleseed Collective where EK has supported Aboriginal collectors to develop skills in the exciting bush food and restoration industries to produce sustainable, socially responsible products.

The grant funded Environs Kimberley project management, co-design workshops, and the development of viable business models. EK delivered training to communities and ranger groups across the West Kimberley and established seed storage, roasting and cleaning infrastructure.

The Bardi Jawi Oorany Rangers, Karajarri Rangers, Nyangumarta Rangers, Yawuru Country Managers and Yiriman Women’s Bush Enterprise’s provided in-kind time and vehicle use for seed collection. EK provided in-kind time, seedbank and seed collecting equipment and coordinated volunteer activities. EK supported groups to develop their own business plans, financial models, packaging, marketing materials and a sales strategy.

EK coordinated the first pilot for commercial scale harvesting of wattleseed in 2022. The harvest saw the Wattleseed Collective gather and clean 40 kgs of (mostly) soap wattle (Acacia colei). This amazing effort resulted in sufficient product to enable Environs Kimberley to enter a product development phase and begin a process of securing access to markets for the coming year’s collections.

EK developed resources including a business plan template, a wattleseed harvesting guide, and wattleseed cleaning guide which are now available to share across the network of Kimberley-based Aboriginal-led businesses and individuals.

First Nations ranger programs are major employers in remote communities.  By continuing to increase the capacity of the rangers in seed collection and social enterprise development, and working with other community members, Environs Kimberley is backing stronger communities to engage in the development of local, sustainable, conservation and cultural economies.