The Linn County Food Systems Council is co-sponsoring “Map of my Kingdom,” a contemporary play about the ownership transition of farmland that will be performed in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall at Coe College on Wednesday, Nov. 4. A pre-show reception will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Hickok lobby, followed by the performance at 7 p.m. In addition, there will be a panel discussion following the presentation including the playwright, Mary Swander; Suzan Erem, founder of the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust; Brent Oleson, Linn County Board of Supervisors; Jolene Irving, Principal Financial; and Terence Holub, TD n’ Guy local food producer/owner.
“Map of My Kingdom” was commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and written by Swander, who is Iowa’s poet laureate. In the play, character Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator in land transition disputes, shares stories of how farmers and landowners have approached their land transitions. 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.
“Land is the thread that binds all the stories together,” says Teresa Opheim, executive director of Practical Farmers. “The play will resonate with those who have been or are working through challenging land transfer issues. We also hope it helps others start those critical conversations.”
According to Dan Wilson, president of Practical Farmers and a member of the group’s farm transfer committee, “the play is a good way at getting at a tremendous farmland transition that is about to take place in Iowa, as elderly landlords begin to pass on. Many farmers will lose farmland – their source of livelihood – during this transition, unless we tackle these issues.”
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” is directed by Matt Foss, professor of acting and theatre history at Iowa State, and performed by Cora Brumlow, a professional actor based in Chicago. Brumlow also played the lead female role in Mary Swander and Dennis Chamberlin’s play, “Vang,” about recent immigrant farmers.
“Map of My Kingdom” is sponsored by The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, New Bo Books in Cedar Rapids, the Lucas County Arts Council, Principal Financial Group and Sustainable Farm Partners, LLP. The Coe presentation is also sponsored by the Linn County Food System Council and the Coe Sustainability Council.
For more information, visit coe.edu or call (319) 399-8581.