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Melissa Dalton - "I live in a forest"

Melissa is the Administrator and Public Officer of Precious Tree Project in Wilderness. She is a qualified Naturopath and has spent the last 20 years educating others about natural healing and well-being. She has an integrated tenacity for raising awareness about conservation and climate change. Here, she shares the story about how she became interested in naturopathy and green living.

“Modern medicine cannot be a lifestyle approach to health management. It just cannot be. The machines, the pills, the drugs … the stuff we rely on to cure us is actually facilitating less health in a human being. I think we should live our lives more naturally, follow more natural principles and live more closely to the natural world.

“I am not an activist. I am an educationalist.

“My primary focus and speciality have been training and education. So, I qualified with my honours in education, I was a high school teacher and then I left teaching because I think we need to move on from the teaching methods to more critical thought, and we don’t do that.

“When Lawrence [my husband] was hit by a bus and went into a coma and doctors said, ‘Put him in a home,’ I said: ‘Okay, thank you, but no thank you. I’m going to do my own thing.’ I thought, cool, I’m going to bring him to the forest and heal him here. I built a natural house from cob, clay and wood that was pretty much a healing home. The walls breathe, there are no synthetics, no VOCs or any of that stuff. I literally live in a forest.

melissa dalton garden route 9
melissa dalton garden route 4

"I could not rely on modern medicine to fix him, so I went into a completely alternative option, and chose natural healing."

“For a long time, what I really did was run around training architects in green building to reduce environmental footprints, because construction has one of the highest footprints. I wanted people to build more green, honour nature and live more naturally.

“In 2010, a very good friend of ours in the community died suddenly of a heart attack. He had thousands of trees in a nursery that he called ‘his precious trees’ and his wife wasn’t as passionate about them as he was, so she wanted to sell them off. My friend [and business partner, Ray] and I thought: ‘Oh my goodness, what are we going to do? This is where we buy our trees from!’ And that is how the Precious Tree Project started. After the Knysna fires, we knew there was a need to restore the endemic forests in the area and address the changes coming from climate change.

“At the end of the day, what pulled me into naturopathy was that the man that I was completely in love with was hit by a bus in Johannesburg and he went into a coma. Modern medicine told me he would be a vegetable. This man I’ve been with for 10 years and was so in love with… People told me to get on with my own life. It was hard for me and I refused to accept that.

“I could not rely on modern medicine to fix him, so I went into a completely alternative option, and chose natural healing. So, my journey into naturopathy, into nature and into planting trees is really an effective result of my husband’s head injury.

“We are no longer married, unfortunately. But that one fundamental moment, when I look back in my life, is what brought me here.”

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