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Everyday Heroes: Quianah Upton

Everything about the colorful flower shop on Pryor Street is an intentional vision from its founder, Quianah Upton. Even how she obtained the building itself, down the street from where Rayshard Brooks was killed by police years earlier, was a form of reparations, she said.

Customers at Nourish Botanica are first greeted by the loud, primary colors that Upton painted on the walls with the help of a designer. Then you see the colorful flower chandeliers that hang from the ceiling, which Upton, a Black woman living in South Atlanta, says were inspired by angels. But she has a bigger vision.

Credit: James Carr

Credit: James Carr

In the backyard of the shop is an open field of grass where she hopes to open a “greenhouse café,” which she hopes will provide Black people a space to heal and play.

At the center of it, Upton envisions, will be food justice for residents of South Atlanta, an area she knows will soon be vulnerable to the gentrification brought on by the Atlanta Beltline Project, The goal is to have 50% of the food come from Atlanta at a reasonable price that residents in South Atlanta can afford.

Upton has been doing the work of food justice for years, since at least 2014, she said, when she had a pop up shop on Auburn Ave. selling vintage jewelry. She remembers it during a time when very few people came to the now bustling area of Atlanta. In fact, she recalled when college students hardly ever came.

Then, inspired by the Truly Living Well, a Black owned farm on Auburn Ave., Upton decided she wanted to add to the world of food justice in Atlanta that was working to solve the problem of food access.

“I started to do events as a way to bring people into the space but I was also extremely inspired by Auburn Avenue itself walking on the streets where Martin Luther King had once walked,” she said in an interview with Capital B Atlanta.

For years, Upton would host dinners where she would bring city leaders and big names in philanthropy to hear the needs of various food access organizations, along with other topics like gentrification and more.

She was cooking all the food herself, hosting the dinners in spaces at various art galleries in Black areas of the city, being intentional about who she invited, the food she cooked, everything.

Then finally in 2020, Upton was inspired to raise the money for herself. She began a campaign to raise $75,000 so she could begin the work of having her own café, starting with the land to build. As she was raising funds for her campaign, the entirety of it was themed on reparations, as an ode to the George Floyd movement happening at the time. She encouraged people to donate their time and their resources, and she got that tenfold when her mail got mixed up one day, which led her to a woman named Kristin Jordan.

Jordan fell in love with Upton’s mission and was moved to donate to her campaign. Not only did she donate, but she also was the owner of the building where Nourish Botanical is operating now. The two have worked together to ensure that Upton can buy the property from her in the coveted area not far from the Atlanta Beltline.

While the $75,000 was only enough to open the flower shop, Upton’s view on what she can do in this moment without the café feels like it’s aligned with what she will do in the future.

She hopes to open the café in early 2023, and she aims to bring back the community dinners in December.

“The heart of it is to be the healing space to reconnect people to Mother Nature. All of it has everything to do with that, because I feel like for Black people, we have such a traumatic experience with land. That’s from slavery. But that’s just one period.”

HOW TO HELP

For more information on Nourish Botanica, please visit https://www.nourishbotanica.cafe/.

To host an event, contact Quianah and her team here: https://www.nourishbotanica.cafe/event-space-atlanta.

Follow Nourish Botanica on Instagram @nourishbotanica.


WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER: A SPECIAL PROJECT

This place we call home is filled with ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary feats. Their selfless acts make this region so special – and they bring out the best in all of us. With the holidays upon us, we wanted to share their inspiring stories, celebrate their accomplishments, and offer ways that you can help.

Just as the 55 people we’re profiling can’t do it alone, nor can we. That’s why we worked closely with our partners to bring you this collection of uplifting stories.

We hope they leave you feeling inspired and ready to tackle the busy new year that lies ahead. We hope they make you feel more connected to your community or to your neighbors.

And maybe, just maybe, they will motivate you to come up with your own small way to make a big difference in the lives of others.

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