When a seed library lends seeds to gardeners, communities flourish and rare heirloom seeds are preserved for the next generation. In this workshop, you will learn about building seed libraries from Tara Rodriguez Besosa of El Departamento de la Comida, Jacqueline Pilati of Reclaim Seed NYC, and Lex Barlowe of #QueNoSePierdaLaSemilla. 
The speakers will share how they have made their seed libraries accessible, participatory, and effective for communities in Puerto Rico and New York City. You will be invited to reflect on how you might share resources for the benefit of your community. 
This lecture is recommended for college students, educators, nonprofit leaders, and design enthusiasts.


Tara Rodriguez Besosa in Puerto Rico sitting on a bench, surrounded by lush greenery.Tara Rodríguez Besosa (she/they/ellx), born, raised and based in Borikén (Puerto Rico), works at the powerful intersection of queer community and food sovereignty, often sharing how queer and agroecological practices are essential for the transition from extractive to regenerative food systems, as well as collective models and shared resources that empower those who grow, cook, and work towards decolonized bodies and lands.

Tara is an interdisciplinary organizer, entrepreneur, designer, and living resource within various groups involving decolonization, queer practices, food culture, and the arts. She is co-founder of projects ranging from a DIY architect-run gallery in Brooklyn, to El Departamento de la Comida in Puerto Rico, to arts venues like El Local en Santurce, and a collective queer land project OtraCosa.

Tara’s work with El Departamento de la Comida has been covered by Vogue, The New York Times, Eater, and more. 

ABOUT lex barlowe

Designer surrounded by lush greenery in Puerto Rico.Born and raised in Lenapehoking, a.k.a. New York City, Lex Barlowe (she/her) is a facilitator, organizer, archivist and seedkeeper. She is committed to collective self-determination through seeds, food, land and community-based economies. 

Lex works humbly to care for and share seeds and their stories–specifically ancestral Black and African diasporic seeds–through projects such as #QueNoSePierdaLaSemilla with El Departamento de la Comida in Borikén, and Reclaim Seed NYC. She is also a member of a collective queer farm in the mountains of Caguas and a facilitator for social justice movements with the Wildfire Project.

Lex is a member of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop, and is the Community Wealth Facilitator with the Black Farmer Fund, a community investment fund that invests in Black farmers and helps food business owners across New York State make collective decisions about their communities

ABOUT Jacqueline pilati

Jacqueline Pilati (she/ella), is an urban farmer, teacher and seed keeper. She is a Professional Development Instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and Adjunct Instructor at Bank Street College of Education where she leads teacher institutes and courses in garden-based learning and experiential science investigations.

In 2018, she founded Reclaim Seed NYC, an urban seed initiative rooted in education and community. The project stewards a community-sustained seed library, educates for seed and food sovereignty, and works towards building a regional seed network reflective of the region’s foodways and climate. Her work can be followed on Instagram: @shesavesseed and @reclaimseednyc. 


This free program will be hosted through Zoom, with the option to dial in as well. Details will be emailed to you upon registration. CART captioning will be provided. Please reach out to us with any information on how we can support your participation, and with requests for services by emailing CHAccess@si.edu.

The DISEÑO program is made possible by federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.