Bay Nature magazineWinter 2009


Geography of Hope

January 1, 2009

Family farmer David Mas Masumoto likes to start shaping his 3,000 peach and nectarine trees in the fall when the trees still have their leaves. It helps him envision the trees in summer when they are full of fruit and sunlight.

Masumoto, the award-winning author of Harvest Son, Epitaph for a Peach, and Four Seasons in Five Senses, says he sees many similarities between farming and writing. When asked if he prefers pruning a tree to editing a manuscript, he chooses the tree. “Rarely do my trees get reviewed,” he says with a smile.

Masumoto is chair of the second annual Geography of Hope conference from March 20 to 22, 2009, in Point Reyes Station. Four hundred people attended last year’s conference, dedicated to the legacy of writer, teacher, and conservationist Wallace Stegner. It raised $10,000 for West Marin’s Writers in the Schools program. This year’s conference focuses on sustainable farming and food systems, and it will feature farmers and ranchers who are also authors.

“There’s no better place for a conference like this,” says Steve Costa, conference organizer and owner of Point Reyes Books. “West Marin is in many ways the epicenter for sustainable agriculture, organic farming, and innovative ideas that relate to farming and sustainability.”

Costa and Masumoto have a lot in common. They both run businesses that strive to be sustainable while serving their consumers, they need to compete with fast-paced consumerism, and they supply products that can be found cheaper somewhere else.

“If family farmers and independent booksellers defined success in the narrow terms of economics, our businesses would border on failure,” Masumoto says. “But when consumers are willing to invest in taste and story, our businesses are a success.”

Learn more about the conference at

About the Author

Writer Aleta George trained as a Jepson Prairie docent in 2009. In addition to writing Bay Nature's Ear to the Ground column, she has written for Smithsonian, High Country News, and the Los Angeles Times.