PRP farm puts the mint in Churchill Downs' juleps - WDRB 41 Louisville News

PRP farm puts the mint in Churchill Downs' juleps

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Crowds from all corners of the world and thoroughbreds from states away -- Derby Day attracts those from all over.

But you don't have to travel far from Churchill Downs to find the key ingredient in one Kentucky Derby tradition that's in its 32nd year.

Surrounded by houses and families, Dohn and Dohn Gardens takes root in an unlikely location.

"I can remember at one time when there were only five houses I could see," says owner Bill Dohn.

The Pleasure Ridge Park farm is responsible for all the fresh mint used in Churchill's signature julep. "We work hard to grow a nice crop of mint so the mint looks pretty," Dohn said.

Dohn does not have to go far to find his workforce. 

Neighborhood boys, some as young as 12 years old, spend hours after school cutting the cool fresh crop before shipping it off to the track.

Jacob Geary, 15, in his third year of working in the mint fields, explains how it's done. "Grab a handful, cut it and then put a rubber band around it, twist it twice and make another one."

After 32 years of growing mint for Churchill, Dohn and Dohn Gardens has gained quite a reputation. "Everybody in the neighborhood knows about the farm," Dohn said.

Starting with just a six foot by four foot plot, the operation continues to grow, shipping mint to places as far away as Chicago. "I've got two-and-a-half acres of mint outside and we've got about 9,000 square feet in green houses," Dohn said.

The Derby continues to be Dohn's claim to fame.

More than 120,000 juleps will be served during Oaks and Derby, which takes a whole bunch of mint.

For the track, they get about two tons.

So what does it take to make the perfect julep? Don't ask Dohn. "I prefer my bourbon on the rocks," he said. 

Because while he plays a big part in the Run for the Roses, you won't find him anywhere near the track come Derby Day.

Instead, he retreats to Lake Cumberland, which is more than two hours away from Louisville.

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