Map of My Kingdom Performance – Lytton, Sunday, February 15

For Release: January 28, 2015

Lytton, Iowa—Is farmland transition a concern to you and your family? Have you found it difficult to start the conversation of what’s going to happen to the land once landowners pass away?

Practical Farmers of Iowa will host a play tackling the critical issue of farmland ownership transfer on Sunday, February 15, at 2p.m. at The Friendship Center in Lytton. 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 peaceful rational solutions that focused on keeping the land – and the family – together.

Land is the thread that binds all of the stories together.  “For most farmers I know, owning land means everything,” Angela Martin says.  Map of My Kingdom will resonate with those who have been through or are working through challenging land transfer issues that include division of the land among siblings, to selling out to a neighbor, to attempts to preserve the land’s integrity against urban sprawl. The drama will inspire the hesitant and the fearful to start the conversation that cannot wait.

“This is an issue for all farmers because they need to have a certain amount of land to have a viable farm,” Teresa Opheim, Executive Director of PFI, said. “We commissioned the play because we wanted to call attention to the issues and help owners figure out how they want that land to be farmed and by whom after they’re gone.”

Today, a vast amount of land in the United States is owned by those over 65 years old. Some have made their wishes clear for the future of their property. Others are courting family upheaval by not planning in concrete ways. An age old problem, evident in literature from the Bible to King Lear to Willa Cather, land transition asks hard questions: Who really owns the land? And what is the role of the steward of a property? Can “fair” become “unfair” to one’s children?

The topic of land transition becomes more urgent as the age of landowners continues to creep higher. 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 performed by Elizabeth Thompsen, an actor from Central Iowa who graduated from Iowa State University. Elizabeth was a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Acting Award Finalist in 2014 and a member of The Lonely Many ensemble who were named Iowa Artists by the Des Moines Art Center in 2013.

Map of My Kingdom will be performed at The Friendship Center, (the former Presbyterian church) in Lytton, on Sunday, February 15. The play will begin at 2pm with light refreshments following. A discussion will also take place after the performance. Free Will Donation. All are welcome!

Local sponsors of the play include: Sac County Farm Bureau, Farmers Cooperative, Calhoun County Extension, Sac County Extension, Lytton Heritage Bank, Sac City Iowa State Bank, Glasnapp Transfer, Outta Space Storage, Johnnies Farm Supply, Lytton Farm Equipment, and Proliant.

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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 www.practicalfarmers.org.

Contact:

Teresa Opheim | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |teresa@practicalfarmers.org

Julie Wheelock | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |julie@practicalfarmers.org