About Sarvodaya Institute

Sarvodaya Institute works and operates on unceded and occupied Tongva land (the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles, CA in colonial speak).  We acknowledge and offer our deepest thanks to the Tongva people for the centuries of care and love they offered to this beautiful land we now call home. Our greatest hope is to learn from our indigenous family and return to the beautiful relationship between people and land we all deserve.

Our Mission

Sarvodaya Institute works towards the upliftment of all, recognizing that we are all part of one great life and that our individual healing is our collective healing. Our work starts in the garden, a place where we can recognize ourselves in the soil, plants, insects, animals, and each other. We recognize all of this Earth (including all people) as one garden, requiring care and love.

We recognize colonial aggression against communities of color as the main driver of damage and destruction to our body, and work towards the disassembly and decomposition of colonial power structures through all of our work.  We primarily work to benefit and uplift diverse communities and cultures as the sovereigns of the future.

Our Story

Sarvodaya Institute grew out of The Growing Home, a demonstration garden established in 2011 to show how the (sub)urban world can transition away from isolation and consumption and towards creativity, community, and connection.

Since then, our scope and our impact has expanded dramatically, as we have recognized the depths of trauma caused by centuries of oppression, slavery and genocide here in America and across the globe.  We now work to help people remember their role as caregivers and lovers of our collective EarthBody, through the practice of gardening and farming. We see this work as a disassembling of colonial culture and a development of a modern culture of healing and regneration.

Come learn from us by visiting our demonstration gardens, coming by our Nursery, or attending any of our events and workshops. Learn with us monthly and support our work by becoming a Supporting Member. Members receive our Monthly Online Gardening Lesson for free with their membership.

We now maintain three demonstration gardens: Sarvodaya Farms, The Growing Commons and The Growing Home. Through these gardens we work towards the revitalization and healing of this Earth, recognizing that healing of people and soil as one life and body.

Our Staff

Farmer Faye Nahm, Farm & Nursery Manager at Sarvodaya Farms

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Faye is grateful to be a farmer. She has been in the Education field for over 15 years but has found that the farming field also provides a wonderful classroom for learning, growth, and healing. Having her hands in the soil and teaching others about caring for our Earth is her way of saying thank you and reciprocating the gifts that Earth has given us.

Farmer Sage Tomita, Farmer at Sarvodaya Farms

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Sage first learned Korean Natural Farming on a cacao orchard in Hawaii. He then went on to live at a self sustaing farm in Northern California and then to work at a citrus farm in Southern California. When he’s not farming, you can find him training for Olympic Weightlifting or practicing his woodworking.

Seema Sundaresh (she/they)
Events Manager

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Seema is an educator, a plant apprentice, a vision builder, and a troublemaker. Seema’s work in this lifetime is to hold spaces to collectively explore where the edges of our healing connect and cross paths with social and cultural change. Through curated programming, Seema builds infrastructure that centers the care, dignity, joy, and imagination of historically marginalized communities.

Rose Olivas. Events Manager

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Rose is a southern California transplant, but a Bay Area native with a decade each in medical research and medical sales , plus work in education. As she finishes graduate studies in the College of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona, she is researching the life cycle of pathogenic bacteria in soil amended with animal manures in urban agriculture practices. She is a vegetarian, loves going on a run with her German Shepherd, and traveling with her family.

Jennie McGuirk, Community Outreach

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Originally from Manchester in the UK; Jennie is an award-winning, strategic, creative practitioner, with over 20 years of experience. Known as the Creative Pollinator, she works holistically to help people, brands and organizations to be seen and heard. As a curious and empathetic soul, her love of connection and synergistic collaboration drives her adventures and inspires her practice.

Farmer Manju Kumar, Garden Manager at The Growing Home

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Manju is a long-time gardener and descendent of a long line of farmers in India. After many careers over her life, she returned to farming 10 years ago, and has helped thousands of people remember their role as Earth. She loves flowers and cooking with the produce she grows. She also has a wide collection of rare and tropical fruiting plants.

Lola Salgado

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My name is Lola Salgado and I’m the daughter of two beautiful Mexican immigrants. In a field that has been predominated by older white males, I’m excited to have space at Sarvodaya to introduce and teach other people of color about bees and beekeeping. I have learned how to care, love, and listen to bees from the Sweetest Man of El Sereno, he’s a 97 year old Mexican Winnie the Pooh.

Every time I see a bee I thank them, they do so much, and are so small, it makes me feel evermore inspired and encouraged to protect and educate about them.

Anna Saucedo (they/them)Documentarian

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Anna is a queer Chicanx creator from Whittier, CA. They invest in decolonial, liberatory community-building, especially as it bolsters our autonomy as land protectors and our agency as co-creators of our ecosystems. Working as a service project leader, photographer, and writer, Anna facilitates and shares everyday practices of reciprocal care through various media.

Farmer Rishi Kumar
Executive Director

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Farmer Rishi is a small-scale farmer, land-artist, writer, and educator.

Since 2010, he has been working in the field of urban gardening and farming in Los Angeles, where he has helped create and establish hundreds of urban gardens. His work centers on the healing of people and Earth as one body. Rishi is also the Co-founder and Chief Gardening Officer of Healing Gardens Community (@healinggardens.co).

Our Board

Evelyn Wu (she/her)
Chairperson of the Board

Evelyn  has a decade of nonprofit and startup leadership experience building systems to scale marketing, technology, and teams in high-growth, fast-paced environments. She is currently a Program Manager at the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge, where she delivers evidence-based mental health programs to underserved communities. In her spare time, she enjoys playing taiko drums and planning the downfall of capitalism.

Arthi Radhakrishnan (she/her)
Board Member

Arthi is a longtime gardener and professional software engineer.  She is passionate about decolonizing spaces that have long been antagonistic to people of color and women. She currently works at Community.com. For moments of joy, Arthi loves to cook fresh food, play with alpacas and goats, and going on hikes in the San Gabriels and Santa Monica Mountains.

Abhishek Arora

Abhi is an entrepreneur with a passion for gardens and beauty.  After working in the high-tech industry for a decade, Abhi co-founded HyreCar, a NASDAQ listed company.  He recently co-founded Healing Gardens, a company dedicated to helping urbanites find healing in the beautiful gardens maintained by people in cities across the globe.

Jason Jia
Board Secretary

Jason studied engineering at Stanford University and then went to Harvard Law School, going on to practice corporate law and intellectual property litigation in Los Angeles. He's grateful to have an opportunity to advise Sarvodaya Institute on corporate governance issues and other legal matters to ensure that the organization continues its rewarding work.