AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa and Center for Rural Affairs are partnering to bring several performances of “Map of My Kingdom,” a play that explores many of the thorny issues surrounding farmland transfer decisions, to communities across Iowa in March and April.
Admission is free, and all performances will feature an open discussion with the audience afterwards facilitated by either playwright Mary Swander or PFI staff. RSVPs are requested for some locations. Planned performances include:
· 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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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, email@example.com 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. – 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., at the nearby Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (1838 Iowa Route 86, near Milford). Participants will work on drafting a letter that captures practical and sensory details about their farmland, special memories of it and hopes for its future. Attendance at both events is encouraged, but not required. RSVP for both events to Debra Boekholder, firstname.lastname@example.org 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, email@example.com or (515) 232-5661, by April 9.
The hour-long play’s sole character, Angela Martin – performed by Twin Cities-based actress and Waterloo native Erica Kuhn – is a mediator in land transition disputes who shares stories of farmers and landowners she has worked with over the years. Some families struggled to resolve the sale or transfer of their land, dissolving relationships. Others found peacefully rational solutions that focused on keeping the land – and the family – together.
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.
In 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.”
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. Dates and locations are listed on CFRA’s website.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
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