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One seed leads to the growth of many: how life imitates nature for Narinder Singh

While all of our ‘An Hour in Nature’ encounters yield deeply rewarding conversations with inspiring people, this Hour in Nature is just a little bit special.

Meet Narinder Singh of QE Foodstores, which he founded in Sydney in 2002. Like Koala Eco, QE Foodstores is an independent Australian family-owned business; and it was one of the first retail businesses to take a chance on Koala Eco and stock our products on its shelves. Jess (Koala Eco co-founder) first shares the story of how Koala Eco’s relationship with Narinder started.

Back when we were just starting out, without any stockists or distributors, I was cold-calling and stopping by shops to try to get them to stock our products. That's when I first connected with Narinder. Despite his gruff (and a little bit scary) demeanour, there was so much kindness in him. Narinder knew the challenges of starting from scratch; he had even experienced the hardship of living in his car to make ends meet while building his business.

Narinder's family first moved to NZ from Punjab India and then Narinder tried his luck as a 19 year-old in Sydney. Through determination, grit, sheer hard graft (and the backing of a fellow migrant) he managed to set up a business. 

Narinder agreed to give me a chance by putting our products in his stores. The boys [our sons Arthur and Emerson] used to help me merchandise and give samples out at the QE stores. It was our first real account. Our products did very well and seven years later we are still stocked in all 12 QE stores.

Meeting Narinder and learning his story is something that has really stayed with me.  It was one of those encounters that I learned so much from and still think about. I believe Narinder's story is not just about business success: it's a testament to resilience, determination, and the power of kindness.

So we were beyond thrilled when Narinder agreed to share what he loves about spending time in nature:

What’s your favourite thing to do in nature?

Running on the sand and walking through thick forest, hearing birds and other living things.

Describe your connection to nature: what positives does it bring to your life? 

I feel I am part of nature and everything is nature, including man-made things. Being outdoors and particularly walking among trees has such a calming effect on me, especially because my work involves spending lots of time inside buildings. I admire the beauty of natural living things; I just love the architecture of plants and flowers.

What are your fondest memories of spending time in nature?

I grew up in and worked on farms before moving to Sydney from New Zealand.  Kiwi fruit orchards I love the most, and potato crops. I’ve seen how one seed leads to the growth of many and I try to hold that image in my mind. I think it’s the same process inside our heads:  instead of planting seeds in soil, our minds can see the things we are trying to build. So we create an image inside our mind first, and then make it happen for real outside. 

Many of us are time-poor and might not get out into nature as much as we’d like. Any suggestions for a quick nature-based pick-me-up? Something sensory, experiential…? 

A three-minute meditation can do wonders. This resets our nervous systems. I use a technique by focusing on my breath till I can hear that it’s slowed right down and sounds really smooth.

Is there a ritual or custom you have to bring nature into your home?

I do a lot of cold showers and mediations, and reading or listening to books.

Is there an animal or plant that you’ve always felt particularly drawn to, and can you explain why?  

Mango tree. I love the smell of mangoes and even the mango tree leaves smell beautiful.

Can you describe an experience when you’ve been made to feel fully in awe—and perhaps even uncomfortably—aware of the power of nature?

I love when bees are moving from male flowers onto female. Without bees there is no agriculture as bees play an integral role in pollination. I love seeing vegetables grow from nothing to something; even after this many years I am still in awe of this process.

Is there a sound in nature that you believe everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime?

I don’t know, but I love the sound of water. One day I would like to experience the sound of space.

Koala Eco Journal


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