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Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land Paperback – June 1, 2010


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Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land + Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm + Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439182426
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439182420
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #504,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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." -- MARION NESTLE, Ph.D., author of What to Eat

"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." -- GARY PAUL NABHAN, author of Renewing America's Food Traditions

"Masumoto passionately engages every fiber of his being in both his work and his writing, bringing the land to life for his readers….A philosopher in coveralls and work boots….Read slowly and savor."
Booklist

"A graceful meditation on the work of growing food and its meaning across generations. A peach of a book... worthy of placement alongside the best of Wendell Berry, Liberty Hyde Bailey and other literary farmers."
--Kirkus

Review

"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." -- MARION NESTLE, Ph.D., author of What to Eat

"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." -- GARY PAUL NABHAN, author of Renewing America's Food Traditions --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

A third generation farmer, David Mas Masumoto grows peaches, nectarines, grapes and raisins on an organic 80 acre farm south of Fresno, California. Masumoto is currently a columnist for and The Fresno Bee and a regular contributor to the Sacramento Bee.

He was a Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow from 2006-2008. His writing awards include Commonwealth Club Silver medal, Julia Child Cookbook award, the James Clavell Literacy Award and a finalist in the James Beard Foundation awards. He received the "Award of Distinction" from UC Davis in 2003 and the California Central Valley "Excellence in Business" Award in 2007. He has served as chair of the California Council for the Humanities.

He is currently a board member of the James Irvine Foundation and serves on the Statewide Leadership Council to the Public Policy Institute of California. In 2013 he also joined the National Council on the Arts through an appointment by President Obama.

Masumoto is married to Marcy Masumoto, Ed.d., and they have a daughter, Nikiko, and a son, Korio.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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One of my favorites--we read for book club.
EKZ
The story of this Japanese immigrant family and their dilligence in establishing peach orchards by the labor of family members and commitment was a treasure.
Eliana Me'ira Hartman
Mas Masumoto's reading was so lyrical and tender, the rhythms so rich with poetic force, that I had to find this book.
M Ray

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By M Ray on August 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps one has to be a farmer, or to have lived within an ag community such as the San Joaquin Valley in California, to get the full effect of this book. I had the pleasure of hearing the author and his daughter reading excerpts from this book for the Valley Writers Read program on the local NPR station. It was an amazing reading. In fact, it was what drew me to Amazon to find the book. Mas Masumoto's reading was so lyrical and tender, the rhythms so rich with poetic force, that I had to find this book. His work reminded me of my favorite poet, Li-Young Lee. A reader who cannot relate to or envision the difficult and demanding life of farming, who cannot imagine a fierce love for the land and how what it produces links nature with human existance, who have no sense of a generational link to the earth which is strong enough to transcend all risk and struggles to survive, who knows nothing about the blistering Central Valley summer heat, may have difficulty getting into this one. But for those who do understand, or would like to understand, I highly recommnded the book.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By BT River on September 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In a series of five previous popular books, Mas Masumoto, the storyteller, has given us vignettes into his life on his farm in California's Central Valley. In Wisdom of the Last Farmer, Mas returns to his familiar themes - being Japanese American, the struggle to maintain his farm, his own mortality and succession planning. His experiences mirror those of many Central Valley farmers struggling to make a living and debating whether to continuing farming. To these experiences he adds his family's struggles after his father's strokes. I feel for Mas and his family while reading about his father's stroke, rehabilitation and subsequent second stroke, recalling my family's own experiences with my grandfather's long illness after a stroke.

His books mirror so much of what I knew growing up on a farm in the Central Valley - baling wire repairs to farm equipment, a noxious weed that can puncture tires and bare feet, "dry" Valley heat, an old farmhouse built in the early 20th century and parents that worked so hard and sacrificed so much to give their children a better life.

In his earlier works, there was an undercurrent of optimism in his writing. In Wisdom, however, I sense a certain fatalism; that he feels that time might be catching up with him. Maybe his optimism will be renewed when his daughter returns to the farm.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Tipps on October 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A wonderful, reflective memoir on what it takes to be a writer who is also a farmer, a son, a husband and a dad. Reading this book took me back to my childhood when we had to lean over to let the juice drip down our chins and arms as we ate peaches that were as sweet and juicy and full of sunshine flavor as described in this story. The way Mas relates his experiences with his dad's illness, welding, plowing the fields, and his own short-comings was inspiring. It's a quiet story that is full of energy and leaves you wanting more. I loved it and bought copies of this book for my friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lavendula on May 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Wisdom of the Last Farmer is a memoir that takes us on a journey through the author's life and his family's history. The book unfolds from the moment when the author's father suffers a stroke, and many of the chapters build stories around the father's quest, post-stroke, to relearn very basic farm-oriented activities. These stories give us insight into important moments in the lives of this family and the land they work. It is a beautifully written, poignant story that will certainly appeal to those of us who grew up on the land or in immigrant families. But, even more broadly, it's the type of narrative, touching on very basic issues of human nature, life, and work, that has the power to move any reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Verville on November 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Masumoto's words are so beautiful. It's a soothing read. Sometimes sad, sometimes optimistic, a kind of poetry. I really loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cinder4ella on June 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is a lot of wisdom about farming and life in this memoir of the author's life as the third generation Japanese American farmer in the Central Valley. If you grew up in the valley or around a farm, you will experience nostalgia. If you are not familiar with farm life, you will be both educated and entertained as David re-creates his experiences with words that describe all of the senses plus emotions that any human can identify with.
It is enjoyable to read and there is a lot to learn about life and family besides farming. He is a great story teller and his stories are full of wisdom. He explains the challenge of organic farming and because there is so much work and so little profit, fewer people are owning and operating family farms. He shows how it is a way of life that is at risk of becoming extinct along with the flavorful peaches they produce. Now as he says, he farms stories to support his passion for farming the 'perfect peach'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EKZ on November 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of my favorites--we read for book club. Author is a lyrical writer--felt more like poetry at times than prose. Not to be off-putting, just a wonderful flow to his writing. I am a farmer's daughter, Japanese American, and of the same generation as the author. Needless to say it resonated with me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn E. Cline on November 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This brought back many memories. Our family was on a farm in Lancaster, CA. It was the best years of my life.That was in the 40's. I could taste the elberta peaches which you can't find any longer. As Mas said the name of peaches are generic. We drove to Pearblossom and Littlerock for peaches and we canned them.Also pears. For dessert we always had fresh canned fruit. Oh, the bygone years.
It was a great read.
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