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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 + The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm
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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: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,850 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.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
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

29 of 30 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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20 of 20 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 Martina A. Nicolls on May 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land is part of a series of books about the author's peach, nectarine and grape farm in Central Valley, California.

Masumoto tells of three generations of family farming, from the first time his grandparents arrived in America from Japan in 1899 when alien land laws prohibited non native-born Asians from owning land, to his father's purchase of land in the 1950s, and to the author's increasing responsibilities and ownership as he looks to past legacies and eventually leaving his own.

Farming is a hard life, and organic farming is even harder. Organic farming works in harmony with nature, using as many natural means of production as possible. Masumoto, in a simple easy graceful style, tells of the movement toward alternative and unproven farming methods as he strives for perfection. In this true tale of the second son's determination to build a reputation, and to survive financially and physically on the land, he writes of the perennial dependence on external elements: weather, soil, mildew, weeds, pests, hired help, his family's health, machinery, technology, the homogenization of food crops, the emergence of supermarkets, the demand for quality, and the expectations of the buying majority: where quality is determined by colour and shape--the externals--rather than by flavour or nutritional content--the internals.

In telling of the hardships of the land, he tells of personal hardships through a father and son relationship. In 1997 his father has the first of a series of debilitating strokes. The account of his feelings as he watches the "signposts of success" as his father recovers some functions and memory and then the gradual deterioration of his father's health with age, is poignant and honest.
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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.

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