The transfer of farmland will be addressed in an upcoming play at Coe College. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The transfer of farmland will be addressed in an upcoming play at Coe College. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

The transfer of farmland is a critical issue in Iowa; one that the play “Map of My Kingdom” tackles through storytelling.

On November 4, the Linn County Food Systems Council, along with Coe College’s Sustainability Council and Environmental Club, are sponsoring a performance of the play, followed by a panel discussion with local leaders involved in land preservation, food production, and environmental protection.

The play will be performed in Coe College’s Kesler Auditorium, located in Hickok Hall on the Coe College campus.

The schedule for the evening is:

6:30 – 7:00 p.m. Reception: meet & greet with appetizers for Map of My Kingdom founders, the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT), the Linn County Food Systems Council, and others involved in local food and agriculture issues;

7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Map of My Kingdom play

8:00 – 9:00  p.m. Panel discussion with (scheduled): Mary Swander, Map of My Kingdom playwright; Suzan Erem, SILT founder; Brent Oleson, Linn County Board of Supervisors; Jolene Irving, Principal Financial; and Terence Holub, TD n’ Guy local food producer/owner.

Learn more about “Map of My Kingdom” below:

Who’s going to get the farm? And what are they going to do with it? Will your future plans for your land create harmony or strife for your family? Or have you even started to think that far ahead? Map of My Kingdom, a play commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and written by Iowa’s Poet Laureate Mary Swander, tackles the critical issue of land transition.  In the drama, Angela Martin, a lawyer and mediator in land transition disputes, shares stories of how farmers and landowners she has worked with over the years approached their land successions.  Some families almost came to blows, struggling to resolve the sale or transfer of their land, dissolving relationships.  Others found peacefully rational solutions that focused not only on the viability of the family, but also of the land.

Land is the thread that binds all of the stories together.  “For most farmers I know, owning land means everything,” Angela Martin says.  Map of My Kingdom will resonate with those who have been through or are working through challenging land transfer issues that include division of the land among siblings, to 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.
Today, a vast amount of land in the United States is owned by those over 65 years old. Some have made their wishes clear for the future of their property. Others are courting family upheaval by not planning in concrete ways. An age old problem, evident in literature from the Bible to King Lear to Willa Cather, land transition asks hard questions: Who really owns the land? And what is the role of the steward of a property? Can “fair” become “unfair” to one’s children?