The Story of Outside In
As a self-ordained green thumb, I aspire to be a certain level of crazy plant lady. Even though
it's considered trendy, I am still secretly happy that I met my husband 50 plants ago and not
after. I needed even more of a challenge, because taking care of a basketball team of kids and
holding down a demanding full time job is not enough of a test, I chose to delve deep in
all things plant related and attempt to keep them alive. In order to do that I had to immerse
myself and read about all of their quirks. Dislikes/likes, how to kill/how not to kill...you know, the
basics. Then something unexpected happened. I became so inspired by their ability to bring joy,
to purify the environment and promote healing. I learned that scientists believe touching and
breathing in soil can actually release serotonin, the same chemical compound responsible for
happiness. In addition, just the labor required at least outdoors is healthy. Not to mention the
tremendous positive mental health impacts that watching the fruits of said labor can have. And
so it began...This idea that I could grow lovely things that could not just beautify my space but
feed and sustain the environment as well as my family in a variety of ways.
Outside In is my journey to holistic well-being using the power of nature. Pre-pandemic I
dabbled a bit in gardening and houseplants, but with all of the newly found time, I quickly fell in
love with my new green friends. They also seemed to love me as well. This new found green
thumb and self-ordained plant geek found herself elbow deep in soil and all things gardening.
However, when I searched for inspiration I didn't find nearly as many plant enthusiasts that
looked like me. Why does that matter? Because representation matters.
I grew up with an amazing role model in this area, because my mom was an entrepreneur
herself. Her love of crafts, art, floristry, and interior design shaped my world and creative spark.
My friends would often jokingly refer to her as the Black Martha Stewart. Though I always
thought the comparison was flattering, as Martha is like the MacGyver of crafting, I wondered
why my mom couldn’t be seen as an expert herself? Thankfully with the rise of Black agriculture
and urban gardening there is a surge of Black plant growing influencers. Though I am comforted
by that, I am not settling. So with that, an intermediate weekend warrior was born. I had base
knowledge with which to grow from (no pun intended). However, as a mom of 7 in a
predominantly white rural town, with a predominantly white female led industry, I too struggled
to overcome my severe imposter syndrome. This is more than a blog or a side hustle. This is for
my children and my community. I decided I needed to venture out and share with the world my
experiences as I learned to embrace nature and my inner green Goddess. Maybe you too, will
Whether you're a green thumb or not, I hope my journey inspires you to dig a little deeper.
CHARISSE JOHNSON, owner and founder
Charisse is a health professional and community organizer. She is also a lifelong advocate of equitable outcomes for children and families in marginalized and oppressed communities. She is inspired by Black homesteaders and gardeners who share her passion.
In 2020 she founded Outside In to document her family's journey into growing and cooking healthy foods. In doing so, she hopes to inspire others to do the same. She also hopes to raise awareness of Black agriculturalists as well as address food insecurity and accessibility. Charisse along with her husband Brian and blended family live in rural Wisconsin.