“We don’t really own this land. Nobody does. We’re all just stewards—taking care of it for whoever comes next.” From “What Will Be Your Legacy?”
All seats were filled at The Launch Pad in downtown Bloomington last Friday for the opening performance of the Land Connection produced play, “What Will Be Your Legacy?” After a quick introduction to the local farmland issues that this play illustrates, the one act show commenced.
Centering on the dilemma faced by Gerald and Nettie, a retiring farmer and his wife about what to do with their farm, “What Will Be Your Legacy?” highlights the problems of an aging farmer population and of farm loss in Illinois and the Midwest. Gerald and Nettie must choose between getting top dollar from a large industrial operation, or taking less, and taking a chance on a young couple who wish to farm sustainably and naturally. After the show, Terra Brockman, the executive director of The Land Connection facilitated a discussion among the audience members, who ranged from farmers and families of farmers, to students and local food supporters. The room was filled with lively conversation as community members voiced their opinions on the issues that are often swept under the rug. “It reminded me of the way my mom and dad talk when they talk about the farm,” said one audience member. The discussion continued as people tried their best to identify and find solutions to the problems faced by retiring and aspiring farmers, and by society at large. As director Doug Day put it, “The current [high input] system works, until it doesn’t anymore.” As the conversation wound down, Brockman explained what The Land Connection is doing to help solve these issues. “The hardest thing to do is to have everyone involved with a family farm transition sit down at the table,” she explains, “We can be the matchmakers, and we can help people tap into their core values of stewardship and explore creative solutions.” The Land Connections works to facilitate meetings and foster connections between farmers, forming a web, and a society of support to help combat farm loss in Illinois. They offer training programs for new farmers, as well as offering professional services in the transferal of land from one hand to the next. By taking steps to promote a community of the preservation of natural farmland and methods, the Land Connection hopes to change the direction we are heading.