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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reading from the Land: the work of David Mas Masumoto

One of my favorite books about sustainable living comes from a poet and farmer named David Mas Masumoto. Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family’s Farm traces the experiences of Masumoto, a third generation Japanese American farmer, who has worked his whole life to maintain the farm, its traditions, and the agrarian ethos. It is a beautiful and rich read – starting with saving a peach and working towards saving a family and finally, deeply about saving society by reminding us of our connections to the land even if many of us do not work it.  Mas is a first-hand guide, not shy about making us think carefully about work as what makes us truly human.  For those who can't participate directly but want to contribute to saving this way of life, the Masumoto farm offers people the chance to adopt an Elberta Peach tree for the year.   Although the 2009 adoption season has passed, the opportunity to do so will return in 2010. David Mas Masumoto is first and foremost a farmer, but he is also a Slow Food activist, a journalist and cookbook writer, a father and son, and a tireless advocate for sustainability.  Once you finish this book, you'll be searching for more of his work: Mas has also written Heirloom Letters to the Valley, A Harvest of Memories (2004), Four Seasons in Five Senses, Things Worth Savoring (2003), and Harvest Son, Planting Roots in American Soil. For even more about the farming life, there is a DVD of spoken words and story songs called Country Voices: Epitaph for a Peach & Harvest Son
Spoken Words and Story Songs
 And if you’re lucky, by the time you’ve happily devoured these books, it will be August and his latest one, Wisdom of the Last Farmer, will be published by Simon and Schuster.  In this newest work, Mas's father becomes ill and Mas realizes he needs to remember all of the knowledge passed on from generation to generation, insuring that his children also carry the traditions, information, and skills necessary to maintain the farm. If it is like his other work, the book will eloquently open your eyes to the ways in which food sustains.

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