Map of My Kingdom

“Map of My Kingdom” is a play performance exploring issues surrounding farmland transition. All performances feature an open discussion with the audience afterwards.

Practical Farmers of Iowa commissioned the play, which was written by Iowa poet laureate Mary Swander. The play debuted in 2014 and has since traveled across the U.S., helping families to start conversations about their own farmland transfer situations and spreading awareness about the need to plan for a farm’s future.

Map of My Kingdom Logo updated text colorIn Iowa alone, 60 percent of farmland is owned by people 65 years or older, and a record 35 percent of land is owned by people 75 years or older, according to the most recent Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey released last summer by Iowa State University.

“’Map of My Kingdom’ is a good way of getting at the tremendous farmland transition that is about to take place in Iowa, as elderly landlords begin to pass on,” says Dan Wilson, a member of PFI’s Farm Transfer Committee who farms with his family near Paullina. “Many farmers will lose farmland during this transition – their source of livelihood – unless we tackle these issues.”

In the play, character Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator in land transition disputes, shares stories of how farmers and landowners approach their land transitions. Some families struggle to resolve the sale or transfer of their land, dissolving relationships. Others find peacefully rational solutions that focus on keeping the land – and the family – together. The play runs just under one hour. It will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

About Mary Swander

Mary Swander is the poet laureate of Iowa. She has published over 13 books of poetry and non-fiction, in addition to plays, radio and television scripts and magazine articles. She has appeared in such places as The New York Times Magazine, National Public Radio, The New Yorker and Poetry Magazine.

Mary’s plays “Driving the Body Back,” “Vang” and “Farmscape” have toured the U.S., including a performance for former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his staff at the USDA. Mary lives and raises most of her own food on a small acreage in the Amish settlement near Kalona, Iowa. She has experienced three generations of land transition within her own family. Learn more at

2019 Performances

There is no cost to attend these plays. We are partnering with CFRA to bring several performances to locations across Iowa listed below.

Friday, March 1 – Fairfield – 7:30 p.m.

Fairfield Arts and Convention Center (200 N. Main St.)

Friday, March 8 – Iowa City – 7 p.m.

Johnson County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall A (4261 Oak Crest Hill Road).

RSVP to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by March 5.

Saturday, March 9 – Jefferson – 7 p.m.

History Boy Theatre (115 S Wilson Ave.).

RSVP to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by March 6.

Sunday, March 10 – Ames – 2 p.m.

Ames Public Library (515 Douglas Ave.)

Thursday, April 11 – Okoboji – 7 p.m. EVENT POSTPONED

Pearson Lakes Art Center (2201 U.S. 71).

Note: A free farmland legacy letter workshop will be held on Friday, April 12, at 11 a.m

RSVP for both events to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by April 8.

Saturday, April 13 – Waterloo – 2 p.m.

Grout Museum of History and Science (503 South St.).

RSVP to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by April 9.

The performances are supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. As part of this program, Center for Rural Affairs is also holding four “Map of My Kingdom” performances in Nebraska set for Feb. 28 in Ord, March 2 in Brownville, May 7 in West Point, and May 9 in Norfolk. Dates and locations are listed on CFRA’s website.

Farm and Ranchland Transition Workshop

Friday April, 12 – Milford – 11 a.m.


Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (1838 Iowa Route 86)

Cost: Free

RSVP to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by April 8.


PFI2019 MapOfMyKingdom FacebookEvent 1200x630 farm and ranchland

This workshop explores the pressures families face during farm and ranchland transition and how they might find ways to mitigate those tensions. It is designed for farmers and ranch families and those interested in the topic, from high school age students to adults.

In this workshop, Mary Swander discusses some of the family issues that arise with farm and ranchland transition. She brainstorms with the class to map out common family scenarios that often include: the aging parents who want to preserve their way of farming but come into conflict with the younger generation; the farmland owner who has no heirs who want to take over the operation; the family with an on-farm offspring with sweat equity in the operation who wants to take over the farm but the siblings want to sell the land and cash out.

Mary then divides the class into groups, each unit taking on a family dynamic. The participants assume the roles of grandparents, parents siblings, neighbors, and others involved in the hypothetical land transfer. Each group invents details of their stories and improvises their scenarios. A discussion follows highlighting the ways the families handled their conflicts and reached solutions. Mary provides the class with easily accessible resources that the participants can use to help them with their transitions.

Participants are welcome to come just for the workshop — but are encouraged to attend the “Map of My Kingdom” performance the night before at the nearby Pearson Lakes Art Center in Okoboji.