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Who gets the farm?

“Map of my Kingdom,” a one-woman play comes to the area after weather canceled performance in April

August 19, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

In April, the Estherville News interviewed Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander in anticipation of her play, "Map of my Kingdom," coming to Pearson Lakes Art Center. A late-season blizzard kept the performance away. Now Lakeside Laboratory is sponsoring a performance that is free and open to the public at 7 p.m. Thursday evening. A discussion will follow the performance.

"Map of my Kingdom: Who gets the Farm?" was commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa and details stories of farm succession in different situations. Swander said her development group had anticipated the show would have four performances in Iowa. To date it has had over one hundred in Iowa, throughout the Midwest and on the East Coast and Pacific Northwest.

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 people literally killed each other over this issue," Martin says. Others 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.

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Swander is the Poet Laureate of the State of Iowa. She has published over 13 books of poetry and non-fiction, in addition to plays, radio and television scripts and magazine articles. She has appeared in such places as The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, National Public Radio, and Poetry Magazine. Swander's plays Driving the Body Back and Farmscape have toured the U.S. and 2013 Farmscape was performed for Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his staff at the USDA.

Mediation can help alleviate issues with succession of family farms. Iowa State University Extension has several specialists who offer mediation assistance. Iowa Concern Hotline offers telephone counseling from students in the Drake University Ag Law program. That hotline number is 1-800-447-1885.



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