What I Learned My First Day at Sarvodaya

What Does Sarvodaya Mean?

the uplifting of all

The first day I visited the farm, I remember feeling positive energy. I sensed, through the acceptance and peace that I felt, that this environment has been nurtured to fruition. What a welcome feeling to feel welcomed and received. 

Sarvodaya farm, amidst all of the loss and uncertainty of this era, offers and supports life, in the most whole sense of the word. I knew this to be true from my first experiences with the community which I also use in the most whole sense of the word. 

As Farmer Rishi and I walked along the gardens and the thriving greenhouse, we talked about the reasons the volunteers, members, and leaders do what they do.

Like me, the volunteers come to learn hands-on what its like to cultivate in an urban setting from great teachers: the plants! And Rishi and Manju!

The members are also able to educate themselves via online workshops while supporting the farm's maintenance with their monthly donations.

The leaders invest their time and energy generously to the community as a whole: the plants, the insects, the interns, the members, and our neighbors in Pomona. 

Joining this community, for me, means joining an ecosystem, one which exists to enrich each and every contributor. It is no coincidence that sarvodaya translates to "universal uplift." 

Remembering 

"To forget to dig the Earth and tend the Soil is to forget Ourselves" –– Mahatma Gandhi

On my first day volunteering, I learned how to make soil! Sammy, Faye, and I worked alongside each other, as I scooped one part perlite, one part compost, and one part coco coir to the big mixer. I shared with my co-workers about my background in sociology and anthropology, and my hopes to pick up some gardening skills as I document the changes of the farm.

It was exciting and empowering for me to get one of the basics down in my gardening repertoire. Mixing the soil felt a lot like playing in the dirt with my cousins when we were little. It is so natural the impulse to dig into the Earth. It's honestly a wonder we forget it. Having studied the systems that shape us, I recognize that this forgetfulness is by design. 

Rishi often says that this work is, more than anything, the work of remembering. At some point growing up in a culture of rugged individualism, we commonly forget how interconnected we all are. We forget how to care for one another, and tend to the well-being of one another. It is exactly the choice to remember that brought me to Sarvodaya Institute. This here blog is also a part of the remembrance for me. As I embark on my journey with Sarvodaya, my lasting thought is what a blessing it is to remember ourselves together. 

Thank you for witnessing and remembering with me. 

–– Anna Saucedo, Farm Documentarian

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