The Land Connection is bringing a one-act play on the future of farming and farmland, “What Will Be Your Legacy?”, to Bloomington, Champaign, Peoria and Springfield, with premier performances March 22 and 23 at 315 E. Front St. in Bloomington.
“This play cultivates awareness of critical issues facing Illinois farmers and farming communities today,” says Land Connection Executive Director Terra Brockman. “It also presents options–ways that retiring and aspiring farmers might help each other find ways to steward the land into the future.”
“What will your legacy be?”
The play, written by the Minnesota Land Stewardship Project’s Doug Nopar, and originally entitled “Look Who’s Knockin’,” presents an elderly farm couple, Gerald and Nettie, wrestling with the question of what will happen to the land that has been in Nettie’s family for five generations.
Their dilemma is a common one as established farmers grow gray and neither their children nor grandchildren plan to return to the family farm. By bringing this issue to the stage here in central Illinois, The Land Connection hopes to stimulate discussion about the issues and options for farmers, their land, and their communities.
This play ends with no clear answer, but gives the audience plenty to reflect on and talk about when the curtain falls. “We leave it open and ask the audience to react,” Brockman said. “We know every farm and every family situation is different. We’re looking for a discussion, a conversation about options.”
One of the options might be to connect with a new young farmer. “We know these people,” says Brockman, “and know that they are ready to farm because they have completed our Central Illinois Farm Beginnings course and mentorship. All they need is a secure long term lease, or option to purchase. And often all they need is 5 to 25 acres.”
The play features central Illinois actors Cindy Hoey and Charles Brown, who play both the elderly farm couple, Gerald and Nettie, and an aspiring farm couple, Angela and John.
“What Will Be Your Legacy” is directed by local actor and organic farmer Doug Day, who says that this project has allowed him to combine his two favorite activities, theatre and farming. After many years as an actor in New York, Doug and his wife Leslie began raising organic fruits and vegetables for local markets at Spring Bay Farm.
Brockman said her awareness of the issues raised in the play has increased as farmland prices have skyrocketed. “Most new farmers can’t begin farming because they can’t find land–either they haven’t got a personal connection with a farmer or they’re not able to afford it.”
“What Will Be Your Legacy” will be performed in March and April at the following locations:
March 22 and 23: The Land Connection, 315 E. Front St., Bloomington
March 29 and 30: Corn Stock Theater, 1700 N. Park Road, Peoria
April 4 and 5: St. Matthew Church, 2200 S. Philo Road, Urbana
April 19 and 20: U of I Extension, 700 S. Airport Drive, Springfield
All performances start at 6:30, feature local food, and are free and open to the public. To ensure enough seating and food, please register online at www.thelandconnection.org/play.
The Land Connection is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting farmland, training sustainable and organic farmers, and promoting a vibrant local food system. Hoping to reverse the current trend of fewer and fewer farmers on the land, The Land Connection works with both retiring and aspiring farmers to ensure that our heritage of farming and food self-sufficiency continues. By connecting people and land, The Land Connection weaves a web of relationships between generations and communities.