By Garima Fairfax
When I first moved to Lyons in 1990, I planted a big vegetable and herb garden. The garden flourished. The deer ate most of the veggies, but weren't interested in the herbs, and I wondered what could be made with all these armloads of healing herbs.
While waiting for inspiration, a mama deer limped into the garden, followed by her baby. Mama went over to the enormous comfrey plant and began eating the long hairy leaves, while the fawn ate everything else. They stayed for a couple of weeks, those two, with mama eating comfrey every day. Then she stood up and walked off without a trace of a limp, baby following. I was awed. Comfrey is also called Knitbone, and I had just witnessed how an animal had used it to help heal her leg.
I was working at that time at the Echinacea Farm out by the big cowboy, and my hands needed help. I already had a background in botany and herbalism, and had been gardening since I was little. I decided to make myself a hand balm that moisturized and helped heal abrasions. I started off with comfrey and calendula, along with olive oil and local beeswax, and my hands loved it. My co-workers at the farm started dipping into my jar, then wanted their own jar, and then another for a friend.
Adding more herbs that are good for skin health and that grow well here in Lyons, I made a dozen jars at a time, sharing them with friends. At the end of the season I rented a table at the Lyons Holiday Bazaar to see if they would sell. I made 50 jars, with colorful handwritten labels, and sold them all!
Then my friends started asking for face moisturizers, masks, and body oils, and in went more garden beds of lavender, rosemary, and calendula. I called my products Wild Sage, another name for the upliftinghealing herb Mugwort.
I worked at Gwynne's Greenhouse for two seasons back in the 90s, and sold my creams and lotions there, all the while steadily growing busier. Then I started working a few afternoons a week at Steamboat Mountain Natural Foods, and Dorothy gave me a whole shelf just for Wild Sage. The line grew to forty different products that help our dry Colorado skin and hair to be radiantly healthy and beautiful, and all completely natural. I taught Botany and Medicine-Making at the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanic Studies, and SouthWest Acupuncture College, both in Boulder, and helped others learn to make their own skin balms and creams.
I've gotten to know many more Lyons residents, and constantly receive thanks, as well as ideas for new products. It has become normal for me to walk around town and be stopped and told "Look how beautiful my face is, thanks to your lotion!" I sell Wild Sage products at a few other stores in Longmont and Boulder, but the best sales have always been right here in Lyons, at Steamboat Mountain Foods. Also, Linda Pecone has hosted dozens of wonderful spa evenings in her home, inviting friends and neighbors to have facials and foot massages using Wild Sage products.
Making products for healthy, beautiful skin has been a joy to me for over twenty-five years. I've grown the herbs in my garden, fertilized them with homemade compost, and completely without sprays or chemicals. After harvesting the leaves, roots, or flower tops, I've made extracts and infusions, made all the products by hand with my own recipes, bottled, labeled, and delivered them. I've loved every step of this process, especially hearing regularly from contented customers.
And now that I am 65, I've been searching for a young herb-lover to pass this rewarding business on to. Too many friends have told me that they wouldn't know what to do without their favorite moisturizer or honey mask. And I am thrilled to tell you all that I have just found the perfect person! Her name is Danielle LaFaille, a renowned practitioner of Rolfing and Cranio-Sacral body work. Many of you know Danielle, as she lived in Lyons before the flood, and worked at Stillwater Healing Arts. She now owns a home in Longmont, and we have just moved all the herbs and oils there. She is planting an herb garden, and we are working together to make the same high-quality, ethical products that have become so valued. I am lucky to have found Danielle to carry on this herbal tradition.
You will find both of us next month at the Lyons Holiday Bazaar, where we will have the whole Wild Sage line, plus something new ~~ Danielle is adding hand-made herbal soaps!
I am grateful for all my Lyons friends and customers who have given me support, compliments, and feedback. Thank you all.
What's next for me? I want to build a native plant botanic garden here in Lyons.