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Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary blossoms in Old Town

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Photos: Hannah Hemperly


Greeting customers with a golden flower at its door and healing wafts of herbs, Golden Poppy Herbal Apothecary, located on 212 S. Mason St., provides a herbal resource for Colorado State University students and the Fort Collins community.

“Your scent drew us in,” said Aubrey Henderson, who visited the shop from out of town.

CSU biochemistry alumna Sarah Josey, 29, started Golden Poppy in 2012, originally using a space out of Old Town Yoga. Since then, the herbal apothecary has bloomed into its own retail store, clinic and certification program located on Mason Street.

Patrons can come learn the basics of herbal medicine and buy bulk herbs, tea blends, essential oils and body care making supplies.

Josey sees a variety of customers, some who come in knowing little about herbal medicine.

“We really want to be a resource, to provide products that are pre-made, and bulk supplies for people who want to make their own, and to be a knowledge center about herbs,” Josey said.

The products are all handmade in-house, including deodorant, skin healing salves, body oils and medicinal tea blends.

Sarah Josey, CSU alumna, started Golden Poppy in 2012 as an herbal resource to the Fort Collins and CSU community.
Sarah Josey, CSU alumna, started Golden Poppy in 2012 as an herbal resource to the Fort Collins and CSU community.

“There is so much that you can do for your own health before even have to go to the doctor,” Josey said. “A doctor can’t do anything for the common flu or the common cold.”

One popular product is the immune elixir, which offers a blend of herbs, including elderberry, which help restore overall health and vitality.


Along with products, Golden Poppy offers classes for anyone interested in the basics of herbal medicine. The $20 stand-alone evening classes come with a book specific to each topic. Sept. 23, the shop is offering an herbs for immunity class.

In March, Josey and staff herbalist Laura Bascardi, started the Equinox Program of Herbal Studies, a $2,000 six month certification class where students can learn the foundations of botany, nutrition and herbal medicine.

“You’re getting the whole picture of how to start working with your health in a natural way,” Josey said. “You get a really solid understanding of herbal medicine so you can use it on yourself, on your family, and friends.”

Genevieve Gaskill, Fort Collins resident, signed up for Equinox the day she discovered the program. She said she loves the individual-based care that Golden Poppy gives to its patrons.

“Everyone has a different reason for being there and it’s really cool,” Gaskill said. “You can say, ‘I have a runny nose, and my head hurts and I’m depressed,’ and they bring you a blend.”

Gaskill will finish the certification program in October, along with 13 other students, and will continue her herbalism studies in Guatemala.

Jaclyn Senske, ‘08 CSU anthropology alumna, received the certification class as a Christmas present after giving birth to her son. She said she hopes to continue her studies in herbalism and nutrition after Equinox.

“I really realized how connected the physical body is with your emotional well-being,” Senske said. “They do a great job about discovering that connection.”

Josey attributes some of the success of Golden Poppy to the sustainable-minded community of CSU and Fort Collins, although naturopathy and herbal medicine is still a burgeoning field in the United States, as compared to Australia and Europe.

“People’s awareness around herbal medicine has grown so much,” Josey said.

Josey said that some herbs can become trendy, and it is important to learn about the herb before use. Saint John’s Wart, for example, is known to be linked with depression, when Josey actually attributes the herb to anti-anxiety.

“Dr. Oz can give you a two-second blip on what it (an herb) could potentially be for, but that doesn’t mean that it’s gonna work for everybody,” Josey said.

The staff at Golden Poppy hope they can be a place for people to learn more about themselves and their bodies.

“I really love empowering people,” said Cascardi, the director of Equinox. “I love helping people realize that they can actually take control of their health.”

Students are encouraged to call 970-682-4373 or to stop by the store to book a class. More information, as well as a free e-book, can be found online or on Twitter @goldenpoppyherb.

Collegian Reporter Hannah Hemperly can be reached at or on Twitter @kawanhannah.

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