Secret Harvests: A Hidden Story of Separation and the Resilience of a Family Farm


Today’s book is: Secret Harvests: A Hidden Story of Separation and the Resilience of a Family Farm (Red Hen Press, 2023), by David Mas Masumoto. In his new memoir, Mas discovers his “lost” aunt. She had been taken away in 1942 when all Japanese Americans were considered the enemy and imprisoned. Due to a disability, she became a “ward” of the state; and his family believed she had died. Then came a surprising phone call—she was alive and living a few miles from their family farm. As Mas discovers, every family has secrets, silences, and lives among their unanswered questions. As Mas learns about his aunt, he asks, How did she survive? Why was she kept hidden? The book interrogates how both shame and resilience empowered his family to forge forward in a land that did not want them. Mas shares how he is driven to explore his identity and the meaning of family—especially as farmers tied to the land. In doing so, he uncovers family secrets that bind his family to a sense of history buried in the earth they work and a sense of place that defines them. Secret Harvests is a story of a family separated by racism against Japanese Americans and the discrimination of people with developmental disabilities—reunited seventy years later, returning to their roots on a farm, and bound by family secrets.

Our guest is: David Mas Masumoto is an organic farmer, author, and activist. His book Epitaph for a Peach won the Julia Child Cookbook award and was a finalist for a James Beard award. His writing has been awarded a Commonwealth Club of California silver medal and the Independent Publisher Books bronze medal. He has been honored by Rodale Institute as an "Organic Pioneer." He has served on the boards of the James Irvine Foundation, Public Policy Institute of California, Cal Humanities, and the National Council on the Arts with nomination by President Obama. He farms with his wife Marcy and two adult children, Nikiko and Koro. They reside in a hundred-year-old farmhouse surrounded by their eighty-acre organic peach, nectarine, apricot, and raisin farm outside of Fresno, California.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is the creator of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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