Meet our November student of the month, Melissa Fritts!
As a child I spent my time in the woods and fields - ever exploring the natural world. I quickly also became fascinated with the inner worlds and began intensive study of spirituality and philosophy as a young adolescent. I was fascinated with the mind, behavior, and belief systems. In high school I encountered psychology and decided that I wanted to pursue the path to a PhD in Clinical Psychology, ultimately helping others with alternative, outside the box, therapies. While in school for my B.S. in Psychology, I fell into a job working at a greenhouse that specialized in herbs, growing 300 varieties during peak season. I knew then that I would have to include working outside with plants in my livelihood, but was distraught as to how that would fit in with psychology.
One day, when I was 20, a co-worker mentioned to me that I would enjoy Horticultural Therapy and I was mesmerized, forever transformed. I knew this was my calling on some level. There was only one school in the area that offered the degree, as it was a new field, so, after I graduated, I moved with the intent of getting a second bachelor's in Horticulture and a master's in Horticultural Therapy. Various hurdles presented themselves in this time until I finally had to come to the conclusion that what I was doing wasn't my path. It was just too hard; I wasn't flowing.
I learned hard lessons that year. I moved back and decided I would teach myself Horticulture; who needs a degree (and the debt that goes with it)? I purchased all of the books that I would have needed for my degrees and read them on my own, taking notes just like I would've in school. I cleared 1/3 acre and planted my first garden: 80' x 40', which you can tell by its size, was my almost daily immersion (after work). I built my first greenhouse and started seeds. I still grow the Echinacea I started 13 years ago.
I got a job at a health food store and quickly moved up to management position. I had been studying nutrition and herbs for a few years at this point and enjoyed sharing my knowledge and helping others to be healthier. All the while, studying, studying, studying; I am ever a sponge. Eventually, I knew I had to get back outside and got into landscaping which, other than a 2 year stint as a librarian at a private, rare plant book library, I have been doing in one form or another ever since. I still have a goal of doing a Horticultural Therapy Retreat Center, and am not really sure how I am going to get there from here, but I am working toward it and being patient for the Universe to present its doors - a philanthropist would help!
The landscaping I do is eco-friendly. I use only my hands, no power tools, and do everything organically. I love having my hands in the earth and tending to our green companions; I know others can benefit from doing the same. I have been studying herbalism for 15 years now; a year ago I started this course because I wanted to feel comfortable with offering my services more. Most of my prior study had been symptomatic; I am delighted with how deep this course gets, its focus on diagnosis and energetics, and its blending of the world's healing traditions. Someday, I intend to offer therapy (though I won't legally be able to call it that) which will include herbology, horticulture, yoga, meditation, nutrition, counseling (another word I will not be able to use), and the like.