In farmer David “Mas” Masumoto’s latest book, Wisdom of the Last Farmer, he looks back on his agrarian life so far. In it, Masumoto focuses primarily on the things he has learned from his father — the things he wishes he’d paid more attention to (like welding) and the things he chose to do differently once he’d taken over his 80 acre peach, nectarine and grape farm near Fresno, California (like transitioning to organic, and making the tough decision to rip out some very old grape vines in order to preserve and nurture others). Meditating on farm legacies seems to have more meaning just now, when his 23 year old daughter, Nikiko, has decided that she too will continue farming Masumoto peaches.
Wisdom of the Last Farmer contains within it a wealth of experience, which make great lessons for young and beginning farmers. It made sense, then, that Mas and Nikiko Masumoto led a workshop together for young farmers last weekend at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY. The workshop gave beginners the opportunity to ask questions of the experienced farmers present, including Stone Barns’ own livestock manager Craig Haney and four-season vegetable grower Jack Algiere. It was also a chance for local apprentice farmers to get to know each other, fostering a sense of farmer community — something Stone Barns hopes to continue building upon. Read more