Practical Farmers of Iowa and Center for Rural Affairs are partnering to bring several performances of “Map of My Kingdom,” a play that explores many of the thorny issues surrounding farmland transfer decisions, to communities across Iowa.
Admission is free, and all performances will feature an open discussion with the audience afterwards, facilitated by either playwright Mary Swander or PFI staff. Planned performances include:
· Saturday, March 9 – Jefferson, 7 p.m., History Boy Theatre (115 S Wilson Ave.). RSVP to Debra Boekholder, firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-232-5661, by March 6
· Sunday, March 10 – Ames, 2 p.m., Ames Public Library (515 Douglas Ave.)
The hour-long play’s sole character, Angela Martin – performed by Twin Cities-based actress and Waterloo native Erica Kuhn – is a mediator in land transition disputes who shares stories of farmers and landowners she has worked with over the years. Some families struggled to resolve the sale or transfer of their land, dissolving relationships. Others found peacefully rational solutions that focused on keeping the land – and the family – together.
Practical Farmers of Iowa commissioned the play, which was written by Iowa poet laureate Mary Swander. The play debuted in 2014 and has since traveled across the U.S., helping families to start conversations about their own farmland transfer situations and spreading awareness about the need to plan for a farm’s future.
In Iowa alone, 60 percent of farmland is owned by people 65 years or older, and a record 35 percent of land is owned by people 75 years or older, according to the most recent Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey released last summer by Iowa State University.
“’Map of My Kingdom’ is a good way of getting at the tremendous farmland transition that is about to take place in Iowa, as elderly landlords begin to pass on,” says Dan Wilson, a member of PFI’s Farm Transfer Committee who farms with his family near Paullina. “Many farmers will lose farmland during this transition – their source of livelihood – unless we tackle these issues.”
The performances are supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. As part of this program, Center for Rural Affairs is also holding four “Map of My Kingdom” performances in Nebraska. Dates and locations are listed on CFRA’s website. Also see https://www.cfra.org/events for a complete list of performances.