Iowa At Its Best: A Barn, a Play, a Conservation Farm
Last Sunday I travelled to Chickasaw and Floyd counties and saw Iowa at its best.
First was a performance of Mary Swander’s “Map of My Kingdom” play on “who gets the farmland”. A hundred people flocked to the Blazek Barn near Lawler, a lovingly maintained beauty that hosted barn dances in the early 1900s. Inside, there were twinkling lights and chairs nestled around a small stage. So many people came that the organizers scrambled to get more seating set up.
Cora Brumlow gave a dynamite performance (her lovely mother, who had organized an earlier performance in Storm Lake, was there as well). It was a warm day and we were inside a barn. So when, after the performance, a bevy of volunteers came around with cold water, iced tea and sweets, they were very welcomed.
Tom and Irene Frantzen, whose farm transfer story is changed but still recognizable in the play, led a good discussion afterwards. I have noticed that many leave the play thinking “what do I do next?” Tom and Irene are very clear that you need to go through the process of setting goals.
If you own farmland, now is a good time to think through what you value most. Do your heirs know your long-term goals for your land? Do you want your children to continue the farming operation? Do you want the farm kept together and continue as farmland? Is future conservation of your land important to you? Would you like your church or another organization to benefit from your farmland?
Like all of the performances of Map of My Kingdom that have taken place around Iowa, a great deal of work went into making it possible. In this case, Tom and Irene Frantzen worked with Juanita Andersen of the Carnegie Cultural Center and a variety of local businesses to make it all possible.
After the performance, I stopped by the farm of Leon and Marilyn Isakson, who live near Charles City. I met Marilyn a couple months ago at a Map of My Kingdom performance in Charles City (organized by board member Wendy Johnson), and Marilyn and Leon have completed a Farm Legacy Letter as well. What a conservation showcase they have put together, including thousands of trees and a pond. Their garden was extensive and well weeded, and the cattle chomped contentedly in the pasture.
What a day!