FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A $300,000 project to honor Hispanic and Mexican sugar beet field workers has been in the works for nearly a year. Project leader, and founder of Mujeres de Colores, Betty Aragon-Mitotes hopes a sculpture will bring a sense of pride to those who worked in the beet fields of Northern Colorado, as well as their families.
To help raise money for to pay for the completion of the sculpture, the nonprofit is giving miniature replicas of the sculpture for donations of at least $500.
The artist, Frank Garza, created the sculpture of a hand holding a short handled-hoe, which was a standard tool used by those working the beet fields.
"I saw a picture of it and I thought, 'that's really significant' ", said Gloria Balderrama. Her family came to the U.S. from Mexico and did back breaking work out in the field. She said her mother began working in the beet fields after the eighth grade. Her father was a migrant worker and would travel across the United States for work. Her grandparents also worked the beet fields.
"It was very very hard work and you didn’t get paid much."
Balderrama now owns one of the replicas as a way to honor her family's history.
"I don’t think there was ever an appreciation, people never recognized the hardness of the work nor what the work did for us," she said. "If we wouldn’t have those people out there, we wouldn’t have the food that we have."
Aragon-Mitotes said they still need about $50,000 to complete the sculpture and all donations are welcome. Those who donate $500 or more will receive a miniature replica of the artwork. Donations of $250 or more will receive a 6x12 paver and the option to include their names and a message.
The goal is to unveil the sculpture in October, before the end of Hispanic Heritage Month.
You can learn more about the project and the history of beet fields here.
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