“Map of My Kingdom” play performance, workshop address “the coming farm transfer” – Charles City, March 22 and 28
For Release: March 6, 2015
CHARLES CITY, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Trinity United Methodist Fine Arts and Performance Committee will host a play tackling the critical issue of farmland transfer on Sunday, March 22, at 1:30 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church. A follow-up workshop that will help farmland owners write a letter about what matters most to them about their farmland and legacy will take place the following Saturday, March 28, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
A free-will offering will be taken at the play. The cost of the workshop is $10, and pre-registration is encouraged. Those interested may attend either event, or both. To register for the workshop, please contact Practical Farmers of Iowa at (515) 232-5661, or email Teresa Opheim at [email protected]
The play, “Map of My Kingdom,” was commissioned by Practical Farmers and written by Iowa playwright Mary Swander. In the play, character Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator in land transition disputes, shares stories of how farmers and landowners have approached their farmland transfers. “For most farmers I know, owning land means everything,” Angela Martin says. “Map of My Kingdom” will resonate with those who have been or are currently working through a range of challenging land transfer issues, from dividing the land among siblings and 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, farm families, and farm communities,” says Wendy Johnson, a Charles City farmer who serves on Practical Farmers’ board of directors. “We commissioned the play because we wanted to call attention to the issues and help landowners start the conversation among themselves, among heirs and among other entities.”
The topic of land transition becomes more urgent as the age of landowners continues to creep higher. Today, a vast amount of land in the United States is owned by those over 65 years old. 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” premiered July 12, 2014, and the show’s popularity has been increasing. Since July, there have been several 12 performances across the state attended by more than 1,200 people.
Workshop Details: Participants at the March 28 workshop at the NIACC Center in Charles City will work with each other on several activities before putting together a “Farm Legacy Letter” that documents what matters most to them about their farmland. “Don’t worry if you don’t like to write,” workshop coordinator Teresa Opheim says. “We will help you leave the day with a solid draft. We hope that participants will then share the letter with their heirs, to get a conversation started about their future of their farmland.”
Of course, families should all sit down and talk with each other about their farm transition plans. For many, however, past conflict, logistical challenges or an inability to communicate effectively makes these conversations very difficult. A farm legacy letter is a good way to collect thoughts and think through thoughts and goals in a supportive environment. It is a good stepping-stone to a fuller conversation with family members. For some, the letter may be the only conversation they are able to have with their heirs.
“Map of My Kingdom” will be performed by Elizabeth Thompson, an actor from central Iowa who graduated from Iowa State. Elizabeth was a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Acting Award Finalist in 2014 and a member of The Lonely Many ensemble, which was named an Iowa Artist by the Des Moines Art Center in 2013.
Sponsors of the play and workshop include: Trinity Methodist Fine Arts and Performance Committee, the Virginia Zastrow Smith Performance Endowment, The Floyd County Community Foundation, The Erwin and Yoshiko Johnson Endowment, Fund, Floyd County Farm Bureau, the United Methodist women, and The Lillian Goldman Chariable Trust.
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through 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.