Changing Season: A Father, A Daughter, A Family Farm

2016-2017 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Title

How do you become a farmer? The real questions are: What kind of person do you want to be? Are you willing to change? How do you learn? What is your vision for the future? In this poignant collection of essays, Epitaph for a Peach author David Mas Masumoto gets ready to hand his eighty-acre organic farm to his daughter, Nikiko, after four decades of working the land. Echoing Nikiko’s words that “all of the gifts I have received from this life are not only worthy of sharing, but must be shared,” Mas reflects on topics as far ranging as the art of pruning, climate change, and the prejudice his family faced during and after World War II: essays that, whether humorous or heartbreaking, explore what it means to pass something on. Nikiko’s voice is present too, as she relates the myriad lessons she has learned from her father in preparation for running the farm as a queer mixed-race woman. Both farmers feel less than totally set for the future that lies ahead; indeed, Changing Season addresses the uncertain future of small-scale agriculture in California. What is unquestionable, though, is the family’s love for their vocation—and for each other.

Advance Praise

“A far-reaching and eminently readable book about farming, farmers, and above all, the passing on of experience and the farm itself to the next generation, specifically, to Mas Masumoto’s daughter Nikiko, who lends her fresh voice to this important work.”—Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy and The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

 

“The food world today is full of conversations about farming and how food is grown. The one voice that is all too often missing is that of the farmer, the person who actually does the work. How fortunate we are to have Mas Masumoto, and now his daughter Nikiko as well, to tell us these stories about life in the fields, the joys, the heartbreaks, the risks, and the rewards.”—Russ Parsons, food journalist and cookbook author

 

“Told through the lens of multigenerations, Changing Season is at its heart a love story of duty and honor to both family and the land. Farmer-heroes Mas and Nikiko Masumoto tend to their orchards and each other with equal dedication and tenderness, writing with grit and honesty about the demands of land stewardship and the emotional succession of a family farm.”—Naomi Starkman, cofounder/editor-in-chief, Civil Eats

 

“In Changing Season, Mas is now joined by his daughter, Nikiko. Their voices, so perfectly woven together, give us the complete and ever-changing story of a true family farm.”—Alice Waters, chef, author, and owner of Chez Panisse

 

“There are plenty of books about farming and the specifics of agricultural concerns in small-scale operations; but Changing Season: A Father, A Daughter, A Family Farm offers something different. It considers many other underlying, deeper questions on how to be a farmer by surveying the moral and ethical realms of farming, considerations of flexibility and adaptability, and visions for the future.”—Donovan's Literary Services

About the Authors

David Mas MasumotoDavid Mas Masumoto grows organic peaches and grapes on his family farm in Del Rey, California. He is the author of Harvest Son, Epitaph for a Peach, Four Seasons in Five SensesLetters to the Valley: A Harvest of Memories, and Heirlooms: Letters from a Peach Farmer. An active proponent of organic farming, Masumoto has won numerous literary awards. He is also active in foundation work and in the cultural life of California and beyond. Visit his website at www.masumoto.com.

Born in the Central Valley of California, Nikiko Masumoto spent her childhood slurping over-ripe peaches on the Masumoto Family Farm. She has never missed a harvest. Through leadership, art, and community involvement, she combines her passion for creative expression and storytelling with food, farming, and dreams for a just and equitable world. Masumoto has earned degrees from University of California, Berkeley and University of Texas, Austin, and she serves on the boards of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts and the Western States Art Federation.