Say Gah! to Quianah Upton: an Atlanta-based artist, creative entrepreneur + social justice advocate and organizer. Quianah is the founder of Nourish Botanica, an organization based in community healing. Quianah and her allies are currently working toward the goal of opening a greenhouse and eatery in Atlanta to provide nourishment for the community, and a space to gather for civic engagement and education around food equity and economic justice. We're partnering with Quianah and Nourish Botanica for their 'Nourish Juneteenth' Fundraiser to help her organization reach its goal of raising $100,000 to purchase land in Georgia to bring these goals to life. Purchase one of our Britt Bucket Hats in Farmers Market today through 6/26, and we'll donate 25% of net profits toward Quianah and Nourish Botanica's goals. You can donate directly to Nourish Botanica's fundraiser here.
Photographs by Maggie Kane.
LSG: Hi Quianah! Tell us about yourself!
QU: My name is Quianah Upton and I am an Atlanta-based creative entrepreneur, artist and social justice advocate and organizer. I’m Caribbean, originally from the Virgin Islands and South Florida, that informs my love of lush, emotive, art and communal green spaces.
I’m an army brat and part of my childhood was spent growing up in a food insecure neighborhood in South Florida. I found my story gathering voice and creative and artistic self through gestural painting and drawing and artistic mediums such as embroidery and flower arrangement. I have a 10 year old Shihpoo named Ramses and I absolutely love donuts.
LSG: What led you to found Nourish Botanica, and why?
QU: Nourish Botanica began to take shape in 2013, when I launched my initial concept to create food-based events featuring panel-based dialogue surrounding art, storytelling, gentrification, food sovereignty, and social justice issues. I was motivated by my own experiences of childhood food insecurity to found my organization, with deep personal knowledge of how a single unfortunate event can send a working family into the grips of poverty.
Dana is the true definition of a multi-hyphenate, constantly creating, no matter the medium. Dana is proudly of middle eastern descent, and is always looking to use her photography/film work to breakdown stereotypes, and depict a positive representation of middle-eastern/Muslim communities. Boulos Is also a fierce advocate for women's rights—she currently supports Free The Work, a non-profit initiative advocating on behalf of female directors for equal job opportunities.
“Sharing our stories centered around food equity for Black communities tell a new story for those unfamiliar with the ways structural racism affects food and feeding.”
LSG: Nourish Botanica inherently combines food + activism to achieve its mission. How did these two things become intertwined for you originally?
QU: We first began to do this with art literally on display at the table and in the room and over time discovered through our dinners that storytelling IS an art and having important conversations over food became healing. Storytelling affects social justice, conveys history, builds empathy, and educates audiences by instilling a sense of belonging and community among those listening. Through our storytelling programming, Nourish Botanica works towards building an inclusive and equitable world. Our stories centered around food equity for Black communities tell a new story for those unfamiliar with the ways structural racism affects food and feeding.
LSG: Who are the community partners you work with in Atlanta to make Nourish Botanica possible?
QU: We have a team of allies such as Martin Rickles Studio, interior designers Jamie Cooper and Caryn Grossman, landscape designer Brandy Hall, PR rep Kat Johnson and we’ve been honored to receive social media support from Molly and Reese Blutstein.
Once we have land and are building on it, the garden development process will be overseen by Maurice Small, an elder statesman in the food and farm community, and we will source locally from places like Gratitude Botanical Farm and Aluma Farm.
LSG: What's next for NB? What do you hope to establish with this incredible project of reclamation and healing for your community?
QU: Our next step is raising more funds to purchase land. Unfortunately, due to rapid gentrification during the pandemic, the cost of land went up instead of down, so it is critical for us to reach out to our community to support us in buying land while we simultaneously apply for grants to build and acquire the infrastructure for that land. We are working toward the goal of $100,000 at this time, and we hope people far and wide will understand why Black land ownership is important.
Text: Madeline Sensible
Photos: Dana Boulos