Book Description from the Cover FlapsIt was when David Mas Masumoto's father had a stroke on the sprawling fields of their farm that the son looked with new eyes on the land where he and generations of his family have toiled for decades. Masumoto-an organic farmer working the land in California's Central Valley-farms stories as he farms peaches. In Wisdom of the Last Farmer, an impassioned memoir of revitalization and redemption, he finds the natural connections between generation and succession, fathers and children, booms and declines as he tells the story of his family and their farm. He brings us to the rich earth of America's Fruit Basket, under the vine trellises and canes where grapes are grown, and to the fruit orchards flush with green before harvest, where he uncovers and preserves the age-old wisdom that is fast disappearing in our modern, information-driven world-and that is urgently needed in this time of food crises and social disruption.
Masumoto sees the price the family has paid to grow complex heirloom peaches-when the market rewards tasteless, big, and red fruits-and the challenges of maintaining traditions and integrity while working in the modern, high-pressure agricultural marketplace. As his father's health declines along with the profitability of the family farm, Masumoto has the further hard work of nursing his father back to health-becoming master to the teacher who once schooled him-and is driven beyond economic concerns to even larger questions of life, death, and renewal.
In his gorgeous, lyrical prose, Masumoto conjures the realities of farming life while weaving in the history of American agriculture over the past century, encapsulating universal themes of work along with wisdom that could be gleaned only from the earth. By the end of the workday, he understands the feeling of accomplishment when you've done your best... and discovers that it's when he lets go-of both his father and control of nature-that wisdom manifests itself. And, when Masumoto's daughter intends to return to the family farm, hope is found in the generations. In the quiet eloquence of Wisdom of the Last Farmer, you will see how your own destiny is involved in the future of your food, the land, and the farm.
Comments from Back Cover"Wisdom of the Last Farmer is a fiercely tender book; it could forever change how you regard a parent and the way you eat a peach . . . [and] puts food and farming into a rugged perspective that both humbles and inspires."
-DEBORAH MADISON, author of What We Eat When We Eat Alone and Local Flavors
"An eloquent and moving memoir ... a coming-of-age story for adults as well as a generous appreciation of the personal value of farming to farmers and its overall value to society. Masumoto's love for his family, their land, and the fruit they produce shines through every chapter."
"The only voice from within farming that sings of both its pleasures and its pains, Mas Masumoto's words are so deeply rooted in his farmwork that they sweat, sting, and shine all at the same time. America's most articulate orchard-keeper, its most earthy writer, Mas eloquently captures the everyday beauty, heartbreak, and moral complexity of a multigenerational family intent on 'bearing fruit' despite insurmountable odds."
Background on David Mas MasumotoDavid Mas Masumoto is the award-winning author of Epitaph for a Peach and several other books, popular columnist, spokesperson for organic farming, and a fellow at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. A third-generation farmer, he grows certified organic peaches, nectarines, grapes, and raisins with his family on their eighty-acre California farm.
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Most recent revision August 23, 2009