Cultivating crops and words | February 5, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - February 5, 2010

Cultivating crops and words

Farmer-author David Mas Masumoto starts off Stegner lecture series

by Rebecca Wallace

In between growing organic peaches, nectarines and other fruit on his 80-acre family farm near Fresno, David Mas Masumoto pens award-winning books. He's perhaps best known for his book "Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm."

"Peach," which is both a story of one farmer and a look at the state of American agriculture, won the 1995 Julia Child Cookbook Award in the Literary Food Writing category.

Masumoto will be sharing more stories locally on Feb. 8, when he gives a talk that kicks off the annual Wallace Stegner Lecture Series at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Richard Preston, author of "The Hot Zone," was originally supposed to speak then, but he recently had to cancel after breaking his hip skiing.

Masumoto is also a Fresno Bee newspaper columnist and a Slow Food activist who has appeared on National Public Radio and PBS television. His most recent book, "Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land," came out last summer.

Other speakers in the Stegner series this year are novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux on March 1, and venture capitalist/entrepreneur Vinod Khosla, on April 26.

The series began in 1993. It focuses on "the themes of land, nature and conservation from literary and artistic perspectives," according to the website for the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which hosts the lectures. The program is named after the late writer, conservationist and Stanford University professor Wallace Stegner. Past speakers have included Jane Goodall and Robert Redford.

The other two Stegner lectures also begin at 8 p.m. Paul Theroux explores the expatriate experience in his books and essays, traveling through a myriad of countries. His books include "The Mosquito Coast" and "The Great Railway Bazaar."

Vinod Khosla will speak in conversation with KQED radio's Michael Krasny. Co-founder of Sun Microsystems and Daisy Systems, Khosla started Khosla Ventures in 2004 and has a particular interest in emerging clean technologies.

The series is sponsored by Bill and Jean Lane, with other support from Embarcadero Media, the parent company of the Palo Alto Weekly.

What: Authors David Mas Masumoto and Paul Theroux, and entrepreneur Vinod Khosla, speak at the annual Wallace Stegner Lecture Series.

Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St.

When: All lectures are at 8 p.m. Masumoto is scheduled to speak on Feb. 8, with Theroux on March 1 and Khosla on April 26.

Cost: Single tickets for the lectures are $22, while series subscriptions range from $75 to $325.

Info: Go to or call 650-854-7696, ext. 316. Tickets can be ordered at the Mountain View center box office by going to or calling 650-903-6000.


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