Now, this is food for the soul! Quianah Upton, a social justice advocate, event producer and artist, is currently raising funds to make a Black-owned eatery and greenhouse a reality. Her goal is to make a lush dining café within a greenhouse, called Nourish Botanica.
A Refreshing Idea
She plans to serve both Southern and Caribbean plant-based foods and drinks that she will make from a blend of herbs and flowers that she grows on-site. In addition, the greenhouse will work as a nursery, with both flowers and plants for sale.
Upton’s goal is to give access to fresh and healthy food. This is her way of tackling food injustice as well as food in-access.
The eatery offers a physical platform for both her and others to continue their education on food apartheid, raising funds for food justice organizations, and more.
In the last 8 years, Upton has hosted over 20 food justice-based dinner parties. She did this through her Nourish in Black initiative, which offers dialogue based on justice issues, food sovereignty, gentrification, art and storytelling.
Funding a Dream
To realize her dream, she launched a GoFundMe campaign for Nourish Botanica in July 2020. The campaign has so far raised over $86,000 of its $180,000 goal. Upton’s goal is to buy land by winter this year and break ground in summer 2022.
For now, though, she has renewed her campaign to remind the community that its support is still vital for the enterprise. Upton did not really have another option when it came to funding.
Like many other Black entrepreneurs, she does not have access to loans, she doesn’t have a ton of disposable income that she can invest, and she is not in any networks that can get her investors or funding. Reaching out to her community is the only way for her.
“The reason I went the crowdfunding route is I really didn’t have any other choice,” Upton said. “I’m just like the standard black entrepreneur. … I don’t have access to loans and I didn’t have tons of money that I could just invest in taking this risk. I don’t have access to networks where I could get funding or investors or anything like that, so I just sort of reached out to my community.”
Aside from knowing difficulty in her upbringing, Upton has also been vocal about the pressure of creating a platform of your own.
Before Nourish Botanica, she founded Arbitrary Living, a business offering handmade decorative pieces. In an older interview with VoyageATL, she talks about what the entire process of being an entrepreneur is like:
“It definitely has not been the smoothest road. It’s very difficult to manage product, developing your brand and outreach as well as just taking care of yourself and trying to save money to get to the next level. I’m very prayerful so that also has helped me to stay sane.”
She continues on, offering her advice to women looking to do something similar:
“My advice to women is to don’t be afraid to ask for help and collaborate as much as possible. Be very discerning in your choices of collaborations and in who you partner with. Try to make sure that they are very firmly in their own role so that you can focus on yours. Find a mentor that you can discuss things with as well. ”
Upton has grown both of her platforms into something quite magical in the last few years. And while she is still trying to grow and glow even bigger and brighter with Nourish Botanica, she has still managed to create incredible impact with her initiative within her community.