Power Equipment Australasia

BUSINESS PROFILE One of the state finalists in 2024 Telstra Best of Business Awards, Woodlane Orchard is a South Australian company committed to sustainability by helping reduce food wastage in rural communities. JACKIE JOY reports Making the best out of waste Did you know that every year, a staggering one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to approximately 1.3 billion tonnes? This not only squanders precious resources but exacerbates hunger, strains the environment, and fuels climate change. As we stand at the crossroads of abundance and responsibility, the battle against food waste has become a pressing imperative that demands collective action and transformative solutions. Having witnessed food surplus first-hand, SA-based entrepreneur Kelly Johnson knew she had to take the first step. The owner, founder and director of Woodlane Orchard, is now promoting sustainability by purchasing surplus produce from farmers that would otherwise be destined for wastage. THE BEGINNING Woodlane Orchard was started by Kelly as sole trader in 2018 before it was turned into a company last October. The business purchases surplus and ‘seconds’ produced locally in the Mypolonga area in South Australia to creates soups, meals, snacks and garnishes. Kelly, who spent 15 years as a Scout Leader, has perfected the art of creating delicious, nutritious ready meals that could be prepared in a short period of time, and even stored without refrigeration. Finalists in The Eat Easy Awards, The Premiers Food and Beverage Awards and more recently, the 2024 Telstra Best of Business Awards in Sustainability, Woodlane Orchard offers a range of natural dehydrated fruit, vegetable, stock, herbs and spices. Kelly says the idea to start a business came about as she was looking for better work-life balance. “I needed to come home after working away with Scouts. My work-life balance was terrible and I decided to make some big changes. I looked around me and noticed lots of surplus produce in my area and decided to help a friend sell surplus peaches. I moved these quickly and then decided to look further,” says Kelly. “As winter came, I realised the fruits may not still sell so decided to use some scouting ideas I had and started to make meals and soups. The basis of my business is all about saving surplus produce, any produce, particularly local produce.” More recently, the company has moved into a factory in Monarto South with another local business. “They only utilise their factory 50 per cent of the year and were keen to have the facility better utilised. I had been unable to find a suitable location locally and this allowed me to take the business to the next stage. I was able to employ additional staff and purchase more dryers so I could expand the business,” says Kelly. The business also has a fully recyclable packaging model at present and are labelling it in house. “I have had new packaging designed and we are now almost ready to do a complete relaunch of our products in our new, very bright and exciting packaging. We believe this will help propel our products into the next year and drive more sales,” she says. THE CHALLENGES As a sole trader, Kelly knew it would come with some challenges. “I was determined to not borrow money to run the business; I had no capital. I had to have a model that paid for itself as it went. It has always managed to do that. Getting farmers to trust me and let me buy their surplus produce was another hurdle I needed to overcome,” says Kelly who still finds maintaining BUSINESS: Woodlane Orchard PRINCIPAL: Kelly Johnson LOCATION: Mypolonga, SA WEBSITE: www.woodlaneorchard.com.au