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Library foundation to feature organic farmer, author at inaugural garden gala

POSTED July 12, 2011 8:44 p.m.

The Stanislaus Library Foundation is bringing together the bounty of crops from the region and the experiences of farmer and author David Mas Masumoto for the first Author’s Garden Gala.

The gala is to raise funds for all 13 branches of the Stanislaus County Library and help promote the county-wide Stanislaus Reads program, featuring Masumoto’s book, “Wisdom of the Last Farmer: Harvesting Legacies from the Land.”

For three generations the Masumoto family has been growing organic peaches, nectarines, and grapes on their 80-acre farm in Del Rey, south of Fresno.

Each year the family hosts the Elberta Peach Tree Adoption program to help educate the public about heirloom produce and organic farming.

Masumoto approaches farming as an artisan and has even been called the “poet of farming” by the New York Times. His writings intertwine the tales of seed and soil with those of family and life lessons.

Masumoto has five books to his name and is also a newspaper columnist. His latest book, “Wisdom of the Last Farmer,” began as a personal journal of the time he spent with his ailing father, who had suffered a stroke. The journal began to evolve into a book as Masumoto delved further into family history and the role of the farm on past and future generations.

"We are pleased to spotlight David Mas Masumoto who has a passion for farming and the story behind the food. He believes we should all know where our food comes from," said gala co-chair Marilyn Dompe.

Continuing on the theme of agriculture, the night’s menu will feature dishes that are made with locally grown produce and products, donated by area farmers. Greens market will be preparing the signature dishes.

As economic woes have cut deeper and deeper into the county’s budget, the library has become more reliant on the funds generated by the foundation.

"This year, as just one of its projects, the Foundation provided $30,000 to ensure the continuation of the 2011 Summer Reading Program which will serve over 10,000 children and teens,” said gala co-chair Kathi Cohn. “Teachers will tell you that come the start of school they can always spot the children who read over the summer."

The gala is scheduled for Aug. 20 at the home of Dr. Stephen and Ann Endsley. The gala will begin with a social hour and will be followed by dinner, Masumoto’s presentation, and a celebrity dessert auction.

Event tickets are $150 per person. Purchase tickets with a call to 204-9360 or send a check and names of those attending to Stanislaus Library Foundation, PO Box 4862, Modesto, CA 95352-4862. Reservations are needed by Aug. 12.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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