PLATTEVILLE, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s been nearly a month since an EF-1 tornado touched down in Northern Colorado and tore through Miller Farms in Platteville, damaging semi-trailers and acres of crops. On Sunday, Tajahi Cooke, chef and owner of Denver-based Ms. Betty’s Cooking hosted a BBQ fundraiser to help the family get back on its feet.
“They literally break their back on a daily basis, so I’m willing to sweat for a day,” said Cooke.
The farm has been in the Miller family since 1949, and over the decades, it has stocked many local farmers markets in Northern Colorado. The family also donates a large portion of its remaining crops to local charities and food banks.
“Sometimes we do the free giveaway where people come out and do it,” said Michelle Vanhoesen, a third generation Miller. “Other times we just donate it to local food banks and local charities.”
On June 7, Vanhoesen was just down the road when a tornado touched down in Weld County. She remembers rushing over to the family property, and watching it go through fields of sugar snap peas and carrots from the window of her parents’ home.
“We lost about 60 acres of vegetables, we lost a couple semi-trailers, our combine is just torn to pieces,” Vanhoesen said. “It was heart wrenching to watch all that work that we had done on all that stuff just be torn away in a matter of seconds.”
Over the past year, the Millers’ vegetable donations have helped Denver chef, Tajahi Cooke feed thousands of community members, including firefighters fighting wildfires around the state. On Sunday, he hoped to return the favor, hosting a BBQ with a goal of raising $10,000.
“Rather than just coming out altogether, we wanted to bring 100 plus people to come out and hug them and we successfully did that,” Cooke said.
For hours, community members came through the doors, buying plates of food and leaving donations. In total, more than 80 people bought a meal, Cooke said.
“We’re just so grateful that he was able to do it and that people are coming out to spend their holiday here with us,” Vanhoesen said.
If you were unable to attend and still want to help the family, you donate on the family’s Gofundme page.