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.

We are a nonprofit organization under the IRS Code Section 501(c)(3) with an EIN of: 82-3895964.

Our Mission

To uplift communities through transformative land-based work that heals people and Earth.

Our Intention

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, nourishment and love.

We recognize colonial aggression against land-nourishing communities as the underlying cause of damage and destruction to our body, and are committed to the disassembly and decomposition of colonial power structures through all of our work.  Through our work, we hope to spotlight, uplift, and support land-nourishing cultures, especially in our local Tongva/Pomona region.

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 domination, slavery and genocide here on Turtle Island (so-called U.S.) and across the globe. We now work to support people in remembering their role as caregivers and lovers of our collective EarthBody, through the practice of gardening and farming. We see this as crucial work in reclaiming our agency, dismantling colonial culture and building a culture based on healing and regeneration.

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.

Through our gardens we work towards the revitalization and healing of this Earth, recognizing that healing of people and soil as one life and body.

Our Logo

Our Rising Earth logo is visual representation of our name Sarvodaya, which means "upliftment of all".

In all we do, we aim to uplift and heal our beautiful body Earth as one living being, including all of the organisms that make up their being.

We see no separation among the organisms of this planet. Instead, we see organisms making organs, and organs fulfilling roles and functions.  We work to fulfill our role individually and collectively and create space for others to remember and fill their roles.

Our Staff

Lauren Gibson
Farm & Nursery Co-Manager

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Hello! I’m Lauren Gibson, an earth dweller who loves learning and teaching about our plant relatives. While I was studying to become an educator, I began to listen and connect with the local ecology around me. I then decided I wanted to share with others the beautiful things the plants were teaching me. While earth is the real teacher, I hope to guide others into finding joy in connecting to place. Today I am walking the path to share that our relationship between self and the earth is reciprocal. My work is rooted in uplifting diversity and community, with the belief that as we collectively work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.

Cyn Freeman
Farm & Nursery Co-Manager

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Aloha I am Cyn Freeman, a Pinay/Chinese island Wahine with roots in Hawai’i and a multi-dimensional artist. In my former life, I was a Graphic Designer for Textiles & Apparel and I gave up fast fashion and pushing pixels for planting aloha in the earth and the indigenous farm life. I am a practitioner who teaches others to heal thy self thru wellness bodywork, sound, and plant medicine in community by connecting to the land thru body, mind, & mana among the BIPOC & LGBTQ communities for humans and animals. Owner of Hina Waters Wellness and a founding Spirit Sistah of the Babaelan Collective. Honored & blessed to be a part of the Sarvodaya Tribe.

Ann-Marie Castaneda

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Hello! My name is Ann-Marie, I am a Pomona native. My family moved from LA to Pomona in the 70's when there were still dirt roads and orange groves. Some of my earliest memories were playing in my great grandma's garden on Grand Ave that she started when she first moved to Pomona. Although I am a novice gardener, I am filled with gratitude to Learn, grow, and cultivate with my community, especially with such an awesome team. I have also been a avide Roller Skater for 7 years now. I am a active member of All Wheels Pomona a grass roots collective for safe skate spaces in Pomona, The Basics of Happy a movement and wellness company based in Long Beach, Unmodern Industries a skate shop in Santa Fe Springs keeping the stoke for skateboarding and Roller Skating alive for the next generation. Ive learned alot from these experiences and I am excited to bring 'em to the farm and see what the farm has in store for me!

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.

Delaney Bucker (she/her)
Membership Communications

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Delaney is a teacher, learner, connector, and creator. She combines gardening and the arts to create hands-on learning experiences that allow individuals to take agency over their learning while embracing cultural identities and uplifting diversity. Motivated by her wonder, joy, and curiosity, Delaney seeks to inspire these feelings through her work.

Meli Remborn

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Meli is a travelling filmmaker most noted for her narrative work in films like "Catrachos and Kings." She balances her passion for cinema and advocacy for the environment through documentary work, giving as much knowledge to the general public as possible. Her freelance photography highlight her nature invested artistic influences, and in time she hopes to use her art work to introduce decolonized perpectives to many.

Farmer Rishi Kumar
Executive Director

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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.