“Map of My Kingdom” play performance, workshop asks “who gets the farmland” – Dubuque, March 26 and 27
For Release: March 6, 2015
DUBUQUE, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa, Iowa State University Extension and the Dubuque Food Co-op, with Dubuque County Extension & Outreach, will host a play tackling the critical issue of farmland transfer on Thursday, March 26, at 6:30 p.m., at Shalom Spirituality Center in Dubuque, and a follow-up workshop on Friday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Iowa State University Extension office. The goal of the workshop is to help farmland owners write a letter detailing what matters most to them about their farmland and legacy.
A free-will offering will be taken at the play. The cost of the workshop is $10. Those interested may attend either event, or both. To register for the workshop, please contact Carolyn Scherf with Dubuque County Extension & Outreach at (563) 583-6496 or [email protected] by March 25.
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 because they need to have a certain amount of land to have a viable farm,” says Wendy Johnson, who farms near Charles City and serves on Practical Farmers’ board of directors. “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.”
Participants at the March 27 workshop 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,” says Teresa Opheim, executive director of Practical Farmers and workshop coordinator. “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.”
The topic of farmland transfer has become 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 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.
The “Map of My Kingdom” performance and legacy workshop is funded, in part, by Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust. Local sponsors of the play and workshop include: The Dubuque Food Co-op, New Hope Farm, Shalom Spirituality Center, Dubuque County Extension, Convivium Urban Farmstead and Dubuque Rescue Mission Gardens.
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.