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Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  708 Ratings  ·  124 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.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 26th 1996 by HarperOne (first published June 1995)
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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverAll Creatures Great and Small by James HerriotThe Dirty Life by Kristin KimballFarm City by Novella CarpenterHit by a Farm by Catherine Friend
Down on the Farm
29th out of 146 books — 182 voters
Pest Control for Organic Gardening by Amber RichardsAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverEpitaph for a Peach by David Mas MasumotoThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanHeirloom by Tim Stark
3rd out of 39 books — 30 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,321)
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Francisco Cardona
Feb 15, 2014 Francisco Cardona rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 15, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 16, 2015 Bernadette rated it it was amazing
I have read David Mas Masumoto's occasional essays in the Sacramento Bee and have enjoyed his eloquent style and unique take on farming issues and the farm lifestyle. He wrote this book in 1995 and it remains a classic due to the superb writing by a farmer who isn't afraid to show his poetic side.

Masumoto raises peaches and grapes on his central valley California farm, just as his father and grandfather did. In this book, Masumoto is on a mission to save his Sun Crest peaches which have remarka
Mara Shaw
Jan 03, 2013 Mara Shaw rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2016 Pete rated it liked it
a little too navel-gaze-y for me (gee, such a hassle to have enough inherited/spousal money to run an emo peach farm and hire mexican migrants to the work that's too worklike to make you feel like thoreau) but also intelligent, deeply felt, occasionally beautiful. some of my stinginess probably derives from the fact that i would like to test-drive the author's privilege. definitely lyrical and thoughtful on the topic of economically irrational peach agriculture.
Sep 22, 2016 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautiful meditation on what is really important in one's life. On the surface it is about a peach farmer. But the author very subtly weaves his growing awareness how all beings must find and accept balance as they go from season to season, from joy to disappointment. It is a short book and I spent three months reading it. Sometimes only a few paragraphs at a time. Reading it each evening reminded me that all is as it should be.
Jan 13, 2015 Jackie rated it liked it
Shelves: stopped-reading
badJust Stopped Reading: Epitaph for a Peach by David Mas Masumoto. This was the first book I started during my great Home Library Project in which I spend the next year only reading books in my personal library that I've never read.

Masumoto writes eloquently of being a third generation Japanese American struggling to keep his family farm afloat, particularly finding a market for his Sun Crest peaches. They are delicious but don't travel as well as the newer hybrids whose taste has been bred out
Oct 18, 2007 Dottie rated it really liked it
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!
Apr 10, 2014 Paa rated it really liked it
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
Jan 23, 2013 Craig Scharton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in food and farming issues, Mas is a must read!!!
Jul 11, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A slow beautiful poetic read.
Rob Blaine
Sep 21, 2011 Rob Blaine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
May 01, 2013 Michelle rated it liked it
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
Nov 29, 2010 Derek Wolfgram rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 10, 2012 Donna rated it really liked it
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
Mar 11, 2009 Purlewe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
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
May 09, 2012 Sandy rated it really liked it
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
May 09, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
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
Apr 11, 2009 Sarah Sammis rated it liked it
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
Mar 21, 2015 Carole rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Five stars for a book about growing peaches? You bet! Masumoto is a poet in farmer's overalls. This is a beautiful book, filled with suspense, danger, and love for family, traditions,the soil, and of course - the peach. I learned so much about farming. I had to stop reading many times to think about my grandfather,a man who loved his farm. My mouth is watering for the first peach of the season. I will have to share this book with my favorite peach farmer in Fruit Heights, Utah.
Feb 19, 2009 Zack rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
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
Jan 20, 2016 Jim rated it liked it
A book club choice, not mine. Masumoto is a lyrical writer about a subject that many people care dearly about - namely organic farming. But his struggle to build a "natural" farming experience in the San Joaquin valley was lost on me. What can be natural about farming these days in a desert not meant for farming using groundwater that is rapidly depleting?
Rob Laman
Apr 28, 2015 Rob Laman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rereads, favourites
I read this a long time ago, but it still clings to me. I found it in one of those discount stores that sometimes pop up for a month around Christmas and then are gone. I don't even recall why in particular I picked it up (perhaps because the cover reminded me of Botany of Desire which I also enjoyed). Nevertheless, whatever the reason, I purchased it, read it, then returned immediately to the store and purchased every copy they had to give as gifts for Christmas that year. I found it so beautif ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Kris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2015 Jackson rated it it was amazing
Poetic and moving: business and a farmer's feel for the natural world do not always coincide, but organic farming might be able to help things come together again. Epitaph is a story about a young man taking over the family farm and learning how to actively teach with a peach [and other growing things].

Feb 10, 2014 Chantal rated it liked it
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.
Aug 04, 2014 Christina rated it liked it
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
Apr 02, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it
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
Jacquelin Siegel
Jan 04, 2015 Jacquelin Siegel rated it really liked it

An expressive writer with genuine passion for his farm, David Mas Masumoto recounts a year in the life of his farm in vignettes of the joys and risks to this lifestyle. I will never look at peaches and raisins the same way again. This book have given me a deep appreciation for the small farm owners that grow our foods.
Feb 16, 2008 Tra-Kay rated it really liked it
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
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David "Mas" Masumoto is an organic peach and grape farmer and author of Epitaph for a Peach (1995), which offers a glimpse of life on a family farm in Central California, 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 (1998). His organic farming techniques have been employed by farmers ...more
More about David Mas Masumoto...

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“I feel persecuted by the power of mother nature, who dwarfs my farm with her unpredictable character. Yet I cling to a spirit of survival. I observe others, my family and neighbors, as we brace for the storm with a humbling humility.” 2 likes
“All good farmers become connoisseurs of dirt and dust.” 1 likes
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