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‘Map of My Kingdom’ set Sunday in Lytton

By Staff | Feb 11, 2015

LYTTON – Practical Farmers of Iowa will host a play tackling the critical issue of farmland ownership transfer at 2 p.m. Sunday at The Friendship Center in Lytton.

The Friendship Center is the former Presbyterian Church.

Light refreshments will be served following the performance and a discussion will also be held. Admission by freewill donation.

The play, “Map of My Kingdom,” was commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and written by Mary Swander, 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 peaceful rational solutions that focused on keeping the land – and the family – together.

Land is the thread that binds all of the stories together.

“For most farmers I know, owning land means everything,” the character of Martin says.

“This is an issue for all farmers because they need to have a certain amount of land to have a viable farm,” Teresa Opheim, executive director of PFI, said. “We commissioned the play because we wanted to call attention to the issues and help owners figure out how they want that land to be farmed and by whom after they’re gone.”

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, like:

  • Who really owns the land?
  • What is the role of the steward of a property?
  • Can “fair” become “unfair” to one’s children?

The topic of land transition becomes more urgent as the age of landowners continues to creep higher.

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” will be performed by Elizabeth Thompsen, an actor who graduated from Iowa State University.

Thompsen was a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Acting Award Finalist in 2014 and a member of The Lonely Many ensemble who were named Iowa Artists by the Des Moines Art Center in 2013.

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