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Ali Pilling

Ali Pilling is all about helping things – plants and humans alike – grow and thrive. After three decades of running a family nursery business, she has some big thoughts about sustainability, education and the power of tapping into what makes you tick.

‘When you know what you’re here for, you’re unstoppable’: a chat Ali Pilling

Ali Pilling is all about helping things – plants and humans alike – grow and thrive. After three decades of running a family nursery business, she has some big thoughts about sustainability, education and the power of tapping into what makes you tick.

Q: How long have you been running ePlants?

A: We started from scratch 30 years ago. It was basically a cow paddock.

My mission is to raise inspired, financially independent kids. And ePlants has been a platform for that – my kids have learned that wealth is basically stored work. Kids need three things in life: to be passionate about what they’re doing, to find meaning and purpose, and to get paid for it.

Q: And you’re so passionate about that you’ve written a book about this?

A: Yes! It’s called ‘Live, don’t Exist.’ The title is from a poem my son Bailey wrote. It’s just so important to do what you love.

Q: Sounds like all of your kids have a passion nurtured in them. How have you done that as a parent?

A: That’s a great question. I think parents are the most influential people in a child’s life, so it’s a no-brainer to lead by example. It’s about also believing and trusting that our kids know themselves, that they know what they’re passionate about, not projecting your values on to them.

I’ve got so much respect for education and for teachers, but don’t 100% agree with what’s going on with the school system. So, it’s about extracurricular activity outside school.

Q: You’ve been passionate about EarthTech – why?

A: Well, I want this planet to be here for future generations. I love people, plants, animals, living things. We can make changes. We just have to start now. I don’t want our kids to be scared – I want them to be optimistic, to know we can all make change.

We are all here for a purpose. When you know what you’re here for – when you combine purpose and passion – that’s when you become unstoppable.

Q: You have a passion for helping youth, obviously. How many young people have you employed through ePlants?

A: Yes – we’ve employed about 500 over a 30-year period.

They’re young people that have a true interest in the outdoors, nature, the environment – they’re like a sponge. They’re a pleasure to work with. We do school-based traineeships, apprenticeships, work experience – we love to give kids a taste of permaculture, sustainability, regeneration, horticulture. We want those kids with that interest, and we want to feed that interest.

I can see with my own kids, how they just shine when they’re doing something they’re genuinely interested in. Education comes in many forms. It’s about learning by doing.

Q: Tell me more about the financial independence angle. One of things that is stressful about our society is that we’re so debt-fuelled and consumerist. How do you think we break that apart?

A: I believe we’re living well beyond our means. It’s important to know the difference between needs and wants – and teach that to our kids. It’s not their fault – instant gratification is our culture. Parents need to teach their kids they need to earn money and spend less than they earn.

We all need to create our own business these days – it’s about wrapping our own passion and purpose into it.

Q: Yes – they say the majority of jobs in the future don’t even exist yet. All young people will need to have an entrepreneurial mindset, an innovative mindset.

A: That’s what I love about EarthTech. The youth of Australia and beyond – these kids are so purpose-driven, they’ve had access to so much information.

So there’s never been a better time in history to do what you love, love what you do, wrap meaning and purpose around that, and find a way to get paid for it. And if there’s no jobs out there, create your own!