MUTUAL, Ohio — Central Ohio berry lovers have the opportunity to not only eat healthier, but also give back to the science that supports the varied health benefits of the fruit.
Champaign Berry Farm, a 28-acre family-owned operation just outside of Urbana, Ohio, is sponsoring a cancer fundraiser July 23-24. Proceeds from the sale of pick-your-own black raspberries will be donated to support the partnership Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute share in cancer prevention research.
Farm owners Mike Pullins, wife Cathy, and sons Matt and Kent, work closely with Ohio State South Centers at Piketon to support the state's berry industry and encourage increased berry consumption. Mike Pullins said the cancer fundraiser is not only a way of giving back to Ohio State but also to encourage people to eat healthfully.
"It's an opportunity for people to fight cancer twice: by eating healthier and to contribute to more cancer research," said Pullins, who also works as executive director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Development Corporation. "We've seen a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in consumer demand on our farm this year, and a lot of that probably has to do with the increasing awareness of the health benefits linked to berries."
Twenty percent of the proceeds, or 50 cents from every pound of pick-your-own black raspberries sold during the promotion, will be donated to fund ongoing and future cancer research.
Berries, whether raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or elderberries, are known to contain compounds with anti-carcinogenic properties, which can vary by such factors as berry variety and production practices. An interdisciplinary team of Ohio State University food, agricultural, and medical researchers are studying berries to determine if they can stop or slow some of the biological processes that contribute to the development or spread of certain types of cancer.
"The berry farm promotion helps recognize research conducted by the James Cancer Hospital and the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and aids in making that connection back to the farm," said Sandy Kuhn, Ohio State South Centers berry coordinator. "It also helps boost the berry market in Ohio by showing people that berries can be raised quite successfully in the state. Cancer research coming from the James is being supported from Ohio-grown black raspberries."
Laboratory studies have already shown the positive impacts of black raspberries on oral, colon and esophageal cancers in rats. Human clinical trials are under way at the James in hope of finding similar results.
Champaign Berry Farm is utilizing ongoing OSU Extension variety and cultural trials of blueberries, red raspberries and black raspberries. The purpose of the trials is to identify varieties and practices that will be successful in Ohio and meet market demand, thereby helping to solidify a viable berry industry in the state for the future.
Information on Champaign Berry Farm can be accessed by logging on to http://www.champaignberryfarm.com or by calling (937) 653-7525. The farm is open from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on July 23 and from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on July 24.