our story

 
 

After traveling and living in a few key cities of the world,
I always come back to finding balance in nature and simplicity. 

I am fortunate to have a role model in my family, my great grandfather Satyanand Stokes (Samuel Evan Stokes). He traveled from Philadelphia (USA) to India as an outsider and fell in love with the beauty of the place and its people. He took a stand for the community, gave them a voice, changed his religion, bought land and gave it away to the people of Kotgarh. He set up a school where he had his friends come and teach the local children practical as well as educational skills alongside his own children.
He encouraged and inspired the production of fruits and other
ways for the community to prosper.

His conviction and love for this community was strong, and his journey led him to meet and work side by side with Gandhi for the attainment of India's freedom.

I have it innately within me to feel the bond towards the community but I also see the value in the untouched nature and hospitality of the people. I see tremendous potential and value in the exchange between the two cultures that I draw upon,  and in that, an opportunity to help nurture and empower the people of this area.

Gauri D Khindaria
Founder

 
 

Why this place?

Kotgarh is a truly magical place - far from urban centers yet truly progressive in its world view, with a community atmosphere like no other.

In the early 1900's, a young American of just 20 years old came here and fell in love with the community. His commitment to this place was so strong that he was disowned by his father, changed his religion, fought for the rights of the people against the British, and finally brought outside education and prosperity by introducing apples to the community that still continues on today. 


How has it changed?

Over time, the climate in the area has shifted and the trees that were once planted by the 40-year-old Samuel no longer bear the same amount of fruit, and the community is suffering as a result. The economic landscape is also shifting and the community needs help to change with the times. The people, however are still the same: friendly, welcoming, ambitious and hardworking.

Through this project, my goal is to bridge generations and communities, in the hopes that my great grandfather's legacy can continue and provide a service to both the local community and to the free thinkers everywhere that I know and have yet to meet.


In April 2017, soon after the formation of the Himalayan Grove Collective, we traveled to India to see if our ideas were viable and that we could create a functional creative exchange that would be of real benefit to the community. We wanted to go out to the rural village of Thanedhar with an artist to paint a few walls and to get the villagers – and especially the children - involved. We had no idea how the local community would react nor how a contemporary Western artist would feel in such a remote rural setting.

There was only one way to find out - by finding an artist whose work fit the area and who was ready for an adventure. That artist was Senkoe, who is based in Mexico. We self funded all his expenses to make this idea happen. We paid for Senkoe's return flight ticket from Mexico to India, transportation to the village from Delhi. his room and board in the village and all the art supplies plus his agreed upon fee. 

We are proud to say that the trip was a huge success, and it was amazing to see both the trip and the idea come to life. The community cannot wait for us to be back and we have their full support.