Farm worker tribute coming to Santa Paula

SANTA PAULA, Calif. When resident Albino Pineda first came to California, he said he thought he was in heaven. The magic didn't last.

"When I first came to California, I went to pick lemons. I lasted for three days," Pineda explained.

Pineda, now 86 years old, can't forget those first days of hard labor in the harsh sun and among barbed branches.

From his experiences came the seed of an idea and a way to honor the harvesters. In the foundry of artist /*Hilario Galeana*/, Pineda developed his idea for a monument. He got some help from renowned sculptor, /*Brian Arthur*/.

The result is a monument featuring two figures -- a lemon harvester with his ladder, and a woman bent over strawberries.

Pineda insisted the monument be elevated.

"We are too used to looking at people down," Pineda said. "This time we look at them up."

In order to fund the project, $250,000 was raised, all from private sources, including the Limoneira Ranch, where the models were discovered.

The back wall of the monument will feature the names of farm workers. Anyone who wants an inscription can apply, and over 1,000 forms have been filled already.

Pineda hopes the monument inspires some gratitude.

"Every time I sit down at the table, I think of the people who are providing the food," said Pineda. "It is a dream come true. I think I will be very proud to walk by and see the monument."

Groundbreaking is targeted for later this month. Installation and dedication will be in August. The Latino astronaut Jose Hernandez has been invited to the groundbreaking.

Funds are still being raised, and an endowment is being sought to maintain the monument.

To obtain an application to have a name inscribed on the monument, write to:

Santa Paula Farm Worker Monument Fund
590 W. Main Street, PMB#191
Santa Paula, CA 93060

The application asks for a donation, but there is no minimum set amount required.

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