We turned off the main road onto the farm lane. It looked just like any other farm lane in Clinton County. The blacktop of the road turned into a gravel and dirt lane. The typical, old farmhouse was sitting there looking like every classic, old family farmhouse I’d ever seen.
As we rounded a bend in the lane to park behind the house, Dale got out of his red pickup truck to greet us. Like most farmers, he was followed by his old, brown dog. She likes to ride in the pickup truck and keeps Dale company whenever he’s outside working.
Everything on the farm appeared to be ship-shaped and ready for spring planting. However, this is not your typical corn and soybeans Midwest farm. It is anything but typical.
Most people, at one time or another, have probably visited Dale’s place. They probably took the kids or grandkids. They carried baskets and picked strawberries or raspberries.
That’s right. The farm that Debbie and I were visiting was out on Center Road. It’s commonly known as the Stokes Berry Farm. Visiting the Stokes Berry Farm has become tradition for many generations of area families. As soon as the berries are ready, people of all ages line up to pick some of the freshest, sweetest, tastiest berries found anywhere.
Over the years, Dale and his wife, Jane, their son, Mark and his wife, Stephanie, have poured their passion into producing the best berries available anywhere. But, nearly 25 years ago, Dale found out something about black raspberries that changed his focus from just growing the tastiest berries for jams and pies to growing black raspberries for cancer research.
In 1992, scientists at the Arthur James Cancer Center at The Ohio State University started doing research on the properties of black raspberries in the treatment of various forms of cancer, specifically, cancer of the esophagus, stomach and intestines. Freeze dried, powered black raspberries are a completely natural, normal part of the human diet. The studies at the James Cancer Center used black raspberries from the Stokes Berry Farm while conducting their studies.
Gary D. Stoner PhD. was one of the lead scientists in these studies. He is currently professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Five years ago, Dr. Stoner was co-editor of a scientific review on this topic entitled, “Berries and Cancer Prevention.”
On the inside cover of a copy of this book, which was given to Dale Stokes, Dr. Stoner wrote, “Dale and Jane, This is the culmination of much of our work over the years. You will see that many of the articles involve black raspberries from the “Stokes Raspberry Farm.” Thanks so much for all your support over the years – it’s been a pleasure working with you. – Gary Stoner.”
Will the cure for cancer someday be found in the fruit of the black raspberry plant? We will never know unless the research continues. Many of our most effective drugs have come from common, natural plants.
A compound derived from the daffodil bulb is being used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. A plant known as deadly nightshade, or belladonna, is used to produce atropine, which has many medical uses and is commonly used on patients who have a very slow heartrate. Digitalis is derived from the plant foxglove. Quinine, which is used to treat malaria, was discovered in a tree in South America, known as the fever tree.
One of the most commonly used drugs in the world is aspirin. Aspirin can relieve pain, reduce fever, thin the blood and reduce swelling. Acetyl salicylic acid, the chemical name of aspirin, is found in the bark of the white willow. It has been used for medical treatment for over 2,000 years.
Where will the cure for cancer be found? It might be found in the fruit of the black raspberry plant. But, we will never know unless we continue the scientific research. We must never stop trying to find a cure for cancer.
Somewhere, in a test tube or a petri dish in a cancer research laboratory, somewhere in the world, someone will find a cure for cancer. How wonderful it would be, if part of the cure involved black raspberries from Clinton County, Ohio.
Let’s never give up the search. Let’s never give up on the research. Maybe, while looking for the cure for cancer, we might find the cure for Alzheimer’s or cystic fibrosis. Research for the sake of research is good.
When given the chance, let’s lobby our state and federal government to continue the search for a cure.
Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.