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 is now the time to start planning?
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. It looks at the human challenges of transitioning the farm business – from beginning the conversation to the power struggles along the way – and explains how to avoid conflict and choose peaceful, rational solutions that focus on the viability of the family, and the land.
And it’s coming to the Pacific Northwest this February and March.
Across Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, a dozen organizations are coordinating to host 13 performances of this traveling show. Many of these events include local attorneys and experts on the nuts-and-bolts of succession planning who will guide attendees to take their next steps.
“Access to land for the next generation is a huge priority for our organization,” said Sarah Sullivan of Gorge Grown Food Network, who is co-hosting the event in Hood River. “But tied up in that goal is helping the elder generation create a transition plan. Map of My Kingdom helps farmers understand the emotions that are at play in farm transition and address them in their families.”
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 and dissolving relationships. Others found peacefully rational solutions that focused not only on the viability of the family, but also of the land.
A post-production facilitated panel discussion led by Swander will conclude the performance. Local panelists include Ken Bailey of Orchard View Farms, Mike McCarthy with Thrive Hood River, and Steve Seymour, a land use attorney will be available to answer questions from the audience.
“Rarely do beginning farmers and elder farmers (some of them without successors) have the chance to meet and get to know each other,” said Ashley Rood of Rogue Farm Corps. “Changing Hands gives each group the information they need to take their next steps, but more than that, it brings people together to make connections.”
Map of My Kingdom is Sunday, February 17, at Wy’East Middle School auditorium in Odell, Oregon. Doors open at 6:00, with the performance at 6:30. A $10 donation is suggested.
The play is sponsored by Columbia Gorge Community College and Gorge Grown Food Network. Generous contributions from People’s Company, Columbia Gorge Winegrowers, Hood River Inn, Six River Community Mediation, Solstice Wood Fire Café, and Alan Busacca make this program possible.