By Wren Almitra
If you haven’t had an opportunity to see in person the thought-provoking play, Map of My Kingdom, or want to view it again, you now have the opportunity to see it at home. Thanks to playwright Mary Swander and AgArts you can purchase and watch the production with family and friends on DVD or by download. Though I highly recommend finding a live show to attend (you can see upcoming shows here), I am excited that there is an opportunity to get the play more widely viewed, helping further inspire conversations about farmland transition.
You can purchase your own copy from Mary Swander (details below). Consider hosting a movie night with your family or community members who may be working through farm transition questions (be sure to have some Iowa-grown popcorn on hand for maximum viewing experience).
The play will undoubtedly generate many questions, including those surrounding how and where to get started with transitioning your family’s land. There are a number of resources and legal experts available to help answer these sometimes difficult questions and guide your conversations. See below for links to a few of these suggested resources.
Playwright Mary Swander and actress Elizabeth Thompson at the play premiere, Scattergood Friends School, 2014. Photo credit, Practical Farmers of Iowa.
More about the play from a recent press release:
The play was originally commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and the video made possible from a grant by the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust. The video stars Cora Vander Broek, a professional Los Angeles-based actor, giving a masterful performance before a live audience at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA.
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.
The USDA’s most recent survey of farmland ownership predicts more than 140 million acres of farmland in the United states will transition in the next four years. 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”. Thoughtful transition will not only help keep farmers on the land but enhance long-range social and ecological benefits, from support of the fabric of small towns and schools, to wildlife habitat, flood control, and carbon sequestration.
More information about Practical Farmers of Iowa and farmland transition, including suggested Iowa based mediator’s, can be found at: http://www.practicalfarmers.org/farmtransfer.
For additional estate planning resources, viewers may want to contact the Iowa Bar Association.
The Land Stewardship Project has a toolkit for farmland transition. More at http://landstewardshipproject.org/morefarmers/farmtransitiontools/farmtransitionstoolkit.
More information about AgArts, a non-profit designed to image and promote healthy food systems through the arts can be found at: http://www.agarts.org.