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Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm
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Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  546 ratings  ·  102 reviews

A lyrical, sensuous and thoroughly engrossing memoir of one critical year in the life of an organic peach farmer, Epitaph for a Peach is "a delightful narrative . . . with poetic flair and a sense of humor" (Library Journal). Line drawings.

Hardcover, 233 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by HarperOne
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Francisco Cardona
When I was a bookseller, I sold so many copies of this book and I never thought to read it until someone told me a few weeks back that since I grew-up in San Jose's last orchards in the 70's, that I might appreciate this book. After reading it, I appreciated it in a different way, not because it reminded me of my youth, but more because it reminded me of the balance of life that people try to attain in nature. Reading how Masumoto looks at his orchard and the market he competes in to sell his pe...more
Mary
Epitaph for a Peach is a memoir about David "Mas" Masumoto wanting to rescue a variety of peaches, his Sun Golds, that have a superior flavor and is in his estimation are the epitome of a peach. Unfortunately Sun Golds are out of fashion...they are not "red" enough and they don't store well for fruit brokers. So he has to find a home for 80 tons of his beloved peaches.

The book is also the story of a third-generation Japanese-American man who could not wait to escape the farm but ended up drawn...more
Dottie
One of the daughters purchased this for my husband and we both read it. Fantastic story -- real life -- and recently I found out that he has since found a way to market these and the trees are still there and going strong. PEaches that are "real" are difficult to come by -- fortunately our place in TX is near peach territory and are they ever good!
Paa
Enjoyed this short book of a farmer's struggle with change and the whims of Mother Nature. Author is very thoughtful and gives the reader an insight of a very difficult but rewarding way-of-life. The author left his family's farm to attend UC Berkeley and returned to the farmstead as a liberal college graduate. The reality of running farm and providing for his family changed a number of his beliefs but did not change his strong character and love of the land. I enjoyed learning the histories of...more
Craig Scharton
If you are interested in food and farming issues, Mas is a must read!!!
Carol
A slow beautiful poetic read.
Rob Blaine
This book was recommended by Christoper Kimball, editor of Cooks Illustrated, and it took a bit of effort to find a copy. Published in 1995 and out of print, none of the area public libraries have it in their respective catalogs. I work for a university, and was able to find one copy through the statewide inter-library loan program it participates in. The book arrived. The pages were crisp. The spine was tight. As far as I could tell, this 16-year old copy of what turned out to be a true gem of...more
Mara Shaw
Written by a farmer who beautifully notices and describes the detail of his fields, his crops and his musings, Epitaph for a Peach captures the challenges and joys of farming with humility and realism. Masumoto includes the history of his Japanese-American farming community amid stories of discovering worms in his peaches and anticipating the ruination of his raisin crop by rain.

Epitaph for a Peach is lovely, and, as my sister-in-law says, it is a cautionary tale about farming. The work, the he...more
Michelle
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It's a topic that near and dear to my heart- farming, and he's a somewhat local farmer to me. I first heard about this book and about Masumoto several years ago, I think from a friend or maybe on website and the story of a farmer wanting to save his peaches intrigued me. When we lived in San Francisco, I would see some of his peaches for sale at our local Whole Foods and then one day I went into the used bookstore with some store credit and foun...more
Derek Wolfgram
Poetic, measured, inspiring... Masumoto tells the story of his organic peach farm in California's Central Valley over the cycle of a full year. Epitaph for a Peach centers around Masumoto's quest to save an orchard of Sun Crest peaches. A very flavorful peach that is several generations old in genetic terms, the Sun Crest lacks the appearance and the travel-hardiness of newer varieties, and as a result becomes more difficult each year to sell to the marketplace.

Masumoto beautifully describes the...more
Donna
Thanks to a friend of mine, I picked up this volume that I may never have picked on my own. Masumoto writes of his peaches, his grapes, his farm with a poetic turn of phrase that exudes the very lushness of the peach he is trying so valiantly to save. Who would ever have thought to join a crusade to save a has-been peach? Not sure it would ever have crossed my mind, but, now, I wish to rally all & sundry and go save the family farm! That was a little tongue in cheek, I am in truth, sincere i...more
Purlewe
Epitaph for a Peach by David Mas Masumoto was an excellent book written by a 3rd generation Japanese farmer in California. He wrote a opinion piece for the LA Times about his peaches saying that he would have to make way in his orchard for the new and fancy high-shelf life peaches that were crowding his out of the market. No one wants to stock peaches that only have a shelf life of 1-2 weeks anymore. They want peaches that look ripe, but are still green so that they last longer in the supermarke...more
Sandy
This book is poetic from the beginning till the end. He also adds some humor in there to keep you even more interested. If you’re into very descriptive books that make you feel as if you are there experiencing what the write is describing this is definitely the book for you. Throughout his novel David Mas Masumoto, the main character, is describing his journey on becoming an organic farm. He faces many difficulties. He sections off his book into the four seasons in order to get a clear perspecti...more
Elizabeth
Epitaph for a Peach by David Mas Masumoto is a story about a 3rd generation Japanese farmer in California that is so passionate about his land field and of course his peaches. In his book he talks about the four seasons that he goes through with his family and his wonderful field which are Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Masumoto has some very strong beliefs towards keeping his field organic, and he does not care what his neighbors say or think he does his own thing. During this journey of...more
Sarah Sammis
Epitaph for a Peach by David Mas Masumoto comes in the middle of his writing career but is one of the fist books he wrote after taking over the family farm. Much of his apprehension and frustration is recorded in this memoir but structurally it has many similarities with Four Seasons in Five Senses (2003).

The book starts as he's pulling out the oldest of his peach trees and he's not sure of his future as an organic farmer. He laments over the development of new varieties of peaches that ripen ea...more
Zack
The author's reminiscences make it very clear that farming is not for
the weak of heart nor body, but his love for his chosen profession and
the valley in which he lives is also abundantly evident. Masumoto's
lyrical descriptions of farm life are at times on the level of "A Sand
County Almanac," with more prosaic accounts of the business of
agriculture throughout. Pastoral scenes of peaches ripening on the
branches are interspersed with woeful tales of falling market prices
and back-breaking physical e...more
Kris
Excellent chronicle of growing peaches and grapes in the San Joaquin Valley. David Mas Masumoto has now written six books, but this was an early one that dealt with his struggles as an organic farmer trying to preserve the Sun Crest peach, a wonderful-tasting peach that buyers were not interested in because of its short shelf life and other factors, such as not being as red-skinned as newer varieties.

Masumoto argues that those who can buy his Sun Crest peaches can taste what a true peach tastes...more
Chantal
Being a farmer is hard. Being a third generation peach farmer is hard but interesting. I wanted to be on the farm with him because the small rewards, not necessarily monetary, make up for the challenges. I did get bored towards the end but probably because I wanted to be there instead of reading about being there.
Christina
Drought, insects, finicky customers...though this book was written 10 years ago, in 1994, the issues facing California farmers are much the same as today, 2014. Major difference: many consumers are now aware of the beauty and flavor of unique and heirloom fruits, veggies and animals and are willing to pay the price to enjoy them. Organics, too, have made major strides since then.

For those who regularly visit farmer's markets, "Epitaph" reads like an old friend, a partner in crime against the dre...more
Heather
This book read like a poem to family, farming and life with beautiful, simple and at times repetitive prose. One of my favorite passages was, "I dance with nature and we seem to constantly be switching leads. Huge rewards may not await me, but perhaps it's the music and motion that's important. I've survived at farming for a decade and now know diversity results in this; at the end of each song, I still have hope."

David Masumoto seemed to be following a stream of consciousness writing style that...more
Tra-Kay
David writes with a gentle, lulling voice which holds a subtle electricity. I must confess my bias as a Japanese major whose favorite food is peaches, but this book is about much more than fruit. It speaks of family, tradition, change, connections with the past and future, and remembering to keep heart in what you do.
I reached the end wanting to know more. What would happen with the peaches? What was the outcome of his newly planted variety? Did owls roost above his fields? Did his daughter go...more
Nancy Yamaguchi
Jul 19, 2010 Nancy Yamaguchi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: West Coast Sansei especially, and people with family histories in farming
The author is a Sansei or 3rd generation Japanese American, working to save his family's peach orchard. Less-tasty but more commercially successful peaches are crowding him out. Ooooh, suspense? In a story about a peach orchard?
Finished recently, and can recommend this as a good read, especially to anyone with roots (heh) in farming. Using the seasons was a nice idea. It gave depth to the idea that the farmer is at the mercy of nature, regardless of how many herbicides and pesticides are availa...more
Erica
Unlike many of the hobbie farmer stories that have be sprouting up of late (Animal Vegetable; Farm City), Masumoto's family's been in the biz for centuries, and his livelihood depends on a good crop. Though he occasionally critisizes the clear-eyed proponents of sustainable agriculture, his story is ultimatly a supportive one for their "cause". Through his year-long documentation, Masumoto stresses the central importance of cultivating intimacy with the land and even a sense of ambiguity, qualit...more
Tracey
Adult nonfiction. The book begins with the author's vision of a world without his Sun Crest peaches--a variety that packs tons of juice and flavor but that is unable to compete in today's marketplace, which demands longer shelf-lives and more color. After his essay is published in newspapers across the nation, letters from all over start pouring in, begging him not to destroy his orchard of Sun Crests, and so the author spends another year attempting to create a niche for his specialty peaches....more
Gillian Roberts
A book about agriculture that reads like poetry. I only give it less than a perfect score because it can most rather slowly, but, wow, is a beautifully written.
Dara
Late in the book, Masumoto writes that some of his best times after leaving home for college "were driving home, leaving the city behind and slipping back into the valley. . . . [A:]round a bend in the highway, the rangelands of the valley would materialize, revealing a horizon of gently rolling mounds. The land seemed eternal and permanent. I felt as if I had stepped back in time."

Like Masumoto, I'm from the Central Valley and left for college. Unlike Masumoto, I haven't lived there since, and...more
Johanna
I live next door to a multi generational Japanese farmer here in Hawaii & the booked just touched a cord in my heart. I loved it
Alissa
What a delightful book. Masumoto bares his heart and soul on the page. His voice is intimate, like he is whispering in your ear, telling you all his secrets. The decline and necessary changes to his family's farm in California is fraught with frustration and despair. While Masumoto feels these emotions, he never completely succumbs to them. The thread of optimistic realism propels him. And we should all be more knowledgeable about why the particular varieties of fruit are on the shelves of our l...more
Sarah
Although there were insights worthy of a 4-star rating, I can only give it 3 stars overall. I was expecting more of a fluid story rather than vignettes of his experience and I found it hard to get into the story. Obviously. It took me a few weeks to finish a rather easy read. My conclusions:
1. Farming is an art that is subject to nature and deserves more credit as a profession (much like teaching).
2. I am very eager to start my own gardening and smell fresh dirt and see the fruits of my labor....more
Beck
Wasn't expecting so much poetic language. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I had. I found it boring and was never sure of what his message was.

It was somewhat interesting to read about the history of farmland that is relatively close to where I live.
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“I try to rely less and less on controlling nature. Instead I am learning to live with it's chaos.” 0 likes
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