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James A. Crosby, better known as Peppermint Jim, is the fourth generation of Crosby mint farmers and artisan distillers who grew up on the Crosby Mint Farm in St. Johns, Michigan. The farm was established in 1912 by his great-grandfather and is the oldest, continuously family operated mint farm in the United States.
Mint farming in the US quickly made its way from the East Coast to the fertile soils of the Midwest in the early 1900’s. Wrigley stood at the cradle of the once booming mint industry in America; the oil was in high demand for the candy industry and our country was, at one point, the world’s top producer of mint oils. The Crosby Mint Farm was established during this high tide. Located in the heart of Michigan, in the small town of Saint Johns, dubbed “Mint City USA”, J.E. Crosby Sr. bought land in 1912 after losing his dairy farm in Dayton, Ohio to a flood. Michigan’s rich muck soil became home to many mint farmers after the turn of the last century. During the 30’s and 40’s there were 60 mint distilleries in a 20 mile radius, and it was said that during harvest season in late July and August, one could see smoke circling from the mint steam distilleries, fueled by wood and coal, in all four directions and smell the sweet aromas for miles away.
Since those days, many things have changed. Most of those farms had to make way for highways, factories, shopping malls, (GMO) cash crops and housing. The mint oil industry is now controlled by corporate brokers who buy the oil from the farmers before reselling them to the cosmetic, confection and pharmaceutical industries. The essential oils are picked apart, each industry uses different components, menthol and camphor being the most prominent. What is taken out of the oils, is often synthetically reproduced and added back into the “essential” oil before it is brought back onto the market as a “pure oil”. These oils have a very limited shelf life and can cause allergies, adverse reactions and have lost most of their therapeutic benefits.
At Peppermint Jim’s and Crosby Mint Farms, we have been distilling oils since 1912 and we are proud to say that not a whole lot has changed in a century. We still grow, harvest, distill and bottle. When you buy our products, you know you are not only buying quality, but you are also supporting an American grown and made farming operation. We work hard to bring you the best mint essential oils, mint products and fresh mint. Because we work closely with Mother Nature, small difference in batches may occur, resulting in slight variations in scent, color and feel. This is due to rain, sunshine, temperatures and overall weather conditions, but does not affect the effectiveness of the oils.
In 2011, Peppermint Jim came to Tucson, Arizona where we operate a small growing station year round. We sell our locally grown fresh mint at farmers markets in both Tucson and Phoenix (sometimes beyond) as well as our other mint products. In challenging economic times, it is important for us to be operational for 12 months out of the year and thanks to our expansion, we can keep our family tradition going strong.
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