We have invited individuals involved in food sovereignty work locally and beyond to come together for a public conversation and informal convening to share their experiences and inspiration. Tara Rodríguez Besosa, Co-Director of El Departamento de la Comida in Puerto Rico, will share about the culture of Boricua food and discuss some current issues facing the Boricua community and how grassroots projects are creating alternatives to grow, distribute, and access local, culturally valuable food. John "J.R." Rivera is the Manager at the Holyoke Farmers Market and a member of the Holyoke Food and Equity Collective, and will share how through this "boots on the ground" work he has been able to create and map out solutions to the food insecurities most Holyoke residents have. Terry Gibson is a Field and Cultural Organizer for Neighbor to Neighbor working out of the Springfield office, and Co-Coordinator of Dwight St. Garden in Holyoke. He will share about his experience organizing volunteers and community partners to co-develop workshops and other community-based projects addressing placemaking, food, and environmental justice struggles. Ibrahim Ali, the writer for "Can You Dig It?", a monthly farm and garden column found in the Point of View Magazine
, will facilitate the conversation. Ibrahim Ali
has almost 22 years of youth and farm related work in Western Massachusetts and New York City, including 11 years as the former co-Executive Director of Gardening the Community. He has served on the steering Committee for Pioneer Valley Grows and Springfield's Green Committee. Ibrahim has received intensive agricultural training from Growing Power (Milwaukee, WI), the Masters Gardeners Program of W. Mass, Seed School (Phoenix, AZ) and is a certified Organic Landcare practitioner.
Currently Ibrahim is the writer for Can You Dig It?- a monthly farm and garden column found in the Point of View Magazine, and is a consultant and strategist for Self Evident Media, FatherHood Farms, and others. In 2019 Ibrahim received the 2019 Caring Heart Award presented by the Caring Health Center in Springfield. Tara Rodriguez Besosa
- Tara (she / they / ellx), born and raised mostly in Santurce, the oceans and magic of Puerto Rico. Tara graduated from Pratt Institute School of Architecture in her former life, and since then has for the past decade supported the design of El Departamento de la Comida. Through their unique food hub model, El Departamento de la Comida, one of various food projects in Puerto Rico, shares tools and resources, exchanges seeds, and creates education materials in support of food sovereignty. Tara brings to the conversation in Springfield the following questions: How can Boricuas around the world support local food and farming efforts on the islands? Is there a way to increase awareness (and action) of colonial and extractive measures and how they affect local ecosystems? What is Boricua food to you? Join us in the conversation!
“I am constantly dreaming + weaving a web of consumers, cooks, restaurants, environmental organizations, policy makers, farms, community gardens, artists, medicine makers and elders, that together are decolonizing Borikén and other marginalized communities through food.”Terry Gibson
is a Field and Cultural Organizer for Neighbor to Neighbor working out of the Springfield office, and Co-Coordinator of Dwight St. Garden Holyoke. As an organizer, Terry is tasked with building power in the Springfield area, specifically using the arts as a way to make space, narrate or highlight the issues community members are organizing around. As Co-Coordinator of Dwight St. Garden, Terry assists in organizing volunteers and community partners to co-develop workshops and other community-based projects addressing placemaking, food, and environmental justice struggles. Terry has lived in Holyoke for three years, moving from Pittsburgh, where he volunteered and strongly supported quite a few urban agriculture projects.John "J.R." Rivera
is the Manager at the Holyoke Farmers Market and a member of the Holyoke Food and Equity Collective. Born in Kissimmee, Florida and raised in Penuelas Puerto Rico alongside Holyoke M.A. he was and is able to organize on many fronts in Western M.A. Starting his career in the food industry at the age of 18 in Holyoke J.R. has been able to bring his experiences to build bridges between community and food. He volunteered at the Holyoke Farmers Market in hopes of bringing in more Latinx people to the market. Utilizing his fluency in Spanish and his "boots on the ground" work he has been able to create and map out solutions to the food insecurities most of Holyoke residents have. He also works as a Tenants Union Leader and with other unions to utilize the power the people have as a collective on relating fronts.