Imagine coming up on your one-year anniversary in business, and the country is in a pandemic. This is what Black business entrepreneur Ivy Lorraine Wells lived through in 2020. Wells is the owner of Ivy Leaf Farms in Houston, Texas.
After moving to a new neighborhood in 2019, Wells noticed that she lived in a food desert. She started growing food and handing it out in her community because, as she stated, she was "blessed with the space and family to do so." With self-taught farming techniques, passion, and her initial investment of $500, she created Ivy Farms.
Ivy Leaf Farms provides low-cost fruits and vegetables for the community. The fresh produce was welcomed by Wells' neighbors, especially the elderly, who were not getting quality products at local grocery stores.
The Texas farming industry is a predominately white male industry, so the mere existence of Ivy Leaf Farms was a victory. However, the COVID-19 virus proved to be a challenge to Wells. But she persevered with a mobile market, pop-up stores, and a lot of support from local Black-owned businesses willing to partner with her.
As a diehard Beyonce fan, who is also from Houston, Wells said that winning the BeyGOOD grant solidified her dream of being a full-time entrepreneur. The BeyGOOD grant is part of the Small Business Impact Fund, which was created by Beyonce's foundation, BeyGOOD, in partnership with the NAACP to support struggling Black-owned small business owners negatively affected by the pandemic and civil unrest across the United States.
Wells said the BeyGOOD funds will allow Ivy Leaf Farms to extend its growing fields, improve technology, and grow its greenhouse, as well as expand its mobile markets. The day Wells received notification that she was a BeyGOOD recipient, she left her job in public health to pursue farming full time. "This grant means a lot," she said.