Premiere: Map of My Kingdom – July 12, in West Branch

The play by Mary Swander addresses the issue of farmland transition

For Release: May 28, 2014

West Branch, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa will premiere a play tackling the critical issue of farmland ownership transfer on Saturday, July 12, at Scattergood Friends School near West Branch. The play, Map of My Kingdom, was commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and written by Mary Swander, Iowa’s poet laureate.

In the play, character Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator in land transition disputes, shares stories of how farmers and landowners have approached their land transitions. 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.

“Land is the thread that binds all the stories together,” says Teresa Opheim, executive director of Practical Farmers. “Map of My Kingdom will resonate with those who have been or are working through challenging land transfer issues. We also hope it helps others start those critical conversations.”

According to Dan Wilson, president of Practical Farmers and a member of the group’s Farm Transfer Committee, “the play is a good way at getting at a tremendous farmland transition that is about to take place in Iowa, as elderly landlords begin to pass on. Many farmers will lose farmland – their source of livelihood – during this transition, unless we tackle these issues.”

Fifty-six percent of Iowa farmland is owned by people over the age of 65, according to a report by retired Iowa State University economist Mike Duffy, “Farmland Ownership and Tenure Report in Iowa 2012”. Thirty percent of Iowa farmland is owned by those more than 75 years old.

Map of My Kingdom will be directed by Matt Foss, professor of acting and theatre history at Iowa State, and performed by Elizabeth Thompson, an actor who lives in central Iowa and is a graduate of Iowa State University. Elizabeth recently played Nan in the premiere of My Grandparents in the War, a new play about Alzheimer’s and the generation of men and women who served during World War II. 

The premiere will be performed at Scattergood Friends School, a small Quaker boarding school, on Saturday, July 12 in West Branch. A light supper will be provided at 6 p.m. and the play will begin at 7 p.m. A discussion will follow the performance. Please RSVP to Lauren Zastrow by Wednesday, July 9 at [email protected] or (515) 232-5661. Admission is $10.

Map of My Kingdom is sponsored by: The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, New Bo Books in Cedar Rapids, the Lucas County Arts Council, Principal Financial Group and Sustainable Farm Partners, LLP.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to 

agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit



Teresa Opheim | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]