David Mas Masumoto discusses SECRET HARVESTS in Civil Eats interview!

In his new book, the Japanese American peach farmer unearths his family’s painful, hidden history and explores its impact on his identity.

In everything David Mas Masumoto does, from pruning peach trees to shooting the breeze with a neighbor, he’s thinking about legacy. The legacy he’ll leave behind, as a father and pioneering organic farmer, and all of the legacies that have quietly guided him here, to his family’s 80-acre stone fruit and raisin farm just south of Fresno.

Perhaps that’s only natural when one’s work is so steeped in history. Masumoto has spent his career growing (and popularizing) varieties of heirloom fruits that have been around for decades, working the same land as the two generations before him. He’s also documented all of the above in a collection of books, the first of which quite literally served as an oral history for the Japanese American farming community in which he grew up.

Given this interest in preserving history, it makes sense that when Masumoto learned that an aunt his family had long thought dead was still alive, and living nearby, his response was to start documenting her story. In the resulting book, Secret Harvests: A Hidden Story of Separation and the Resilience of a Family Farm, which came out in February, he explores the depths of his family history, uncovering long-held secrets and grappling with impossible decisions made when his family was imprisoned during World War II.