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Wisdom of the Last Farmer

Wisdom of the Last Farmer

Harvesting Legacies from the Land

  • reading group guide
David Mas Masumoto works a family farm, growing organic peaches, nectarines, and grapes. When Masumoto’s father has a stroke on the fields of their eighty-acre farm, Masumoto confronts life’s big questions: What do his and his father’s lives mean? What have they lived and worked for? “A fiercely tender book” (Deborah Madison), Wisdom of the Last Farmer “tells the most fascinating kind of story, reminding us that, at its best and most authentic, organic farming requires not only soul, but intimate knowledge of place, a deep grasp of subjects ranging from plant physiology to tractor repair, and unrelenting physical labor” (onEarth magazine). In the harvest of his father’s wisdom, and his own, gathered from a lifetime of farming and surviving, Mas finds the natural connections between generation and succession and life, death, and renewal. He tells how to tend and make things grow, and how to know when to let nature take over, weaving together stories of life and death to reveal age-old wisdom in what the The Oregonian called a “sweet taste of farming, family, loyalty, and dignity.” With insights full of beautiful, lyrical descriptions on how to nurture both the tangible and intangible, Masumoto’s quiet eloquence reveals how our own destinies are involved in the future of our food, the land, and the farm.
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  • Atria Books | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439182420 | 
  • June 2010
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List Price $17.99
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Wisdom Of The Last Farmer

Now in paperback, Wisdom of the Last Farmer celebrates the practice of a family working the land and growing food.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Wisdom of the Last Farmer includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author David Mas Masumoto. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

When David Mas Masumoto’s father has a stroke in the fields of their organic peach farm in California, the reality of his father’s mortality drives Masumoto to reevaluate the significance and meaning of farming in a fast-paced, modern world. As he nurses his father back to health, and becomes a teacher to the master who had once schooled him, he reclaims the practical and emotional wisdom that they and their ancestors had learned from working the land. Realizing that he himself needs to pass on a wealth of knowledge to the next generation, he writes this impassioned narrative about re-connecting to the land.

In Wisdom of the Last Farmer, Masumoto finds the natural connections between families and farming, fathers and children, booms and declines, and relates them to larger, more sweeping themes of life, death, and renewal.

Questions for Discussion

1. Growing up as the third generation in this country, David Mas Masumoto learns to embrace Japanese proverbs su see more

About the Author

David Mas Masumoto
Photo Credit: Glenn Nakamichi

David Mas Masumoto

David Mas Masumoto is an organic peach and grape farmer who works with his wife, Marcy Masumoto, and their two children, Nikiko and Korio, on their 80-acre farm just outside Del Ray, 20 miles south of Fresno, CA. He has a bachelors degree in sociology from U.C. Berkeley and a masters degree in community development from U.C. Davis. He is a columnist for The Fresno Bee, has written for USA Today and The Los Angeles Times, and has been featured in Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine and New York Times. His farm has been featured Sunset, Country Living, and Glamour Magazines and on television as part of the California Heartland PBS series as well as the nationally aired program "Ripe for Change."

Masumoto has won numerous awards, including the James Clavell Japanese American National Literacy Award in 1986; the 1995 Julia Child Cookbook Award in the Literary Food Writing category, finalist for the 1996 James Beard Foundation Food Writing Award, and  San Francisco Review of Books Critics' Choice Award 1995-96, all for Epitaph for a Peach; Commonwealth Club of California silver medal for the California Book Awards in 1999 and was a finalist for the Asian American Writers' Workshop award in New York for Harvest Son; and the University of California, Davis “Award of Distinction” from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 2003. He has been the key note speaker at diverse conferences including International Association of Culinary Professionals, Culinary Institute of America, American Association of Museums, and many more. He also was awarded a Breadloaf Writers Conference fellowship in 1996.

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