Memories of The Land Stewardship Project: Touching Hearts, Changing Minds

Land Stewardship Project Program Tri-fold 1When I was growing up in rural South Dakota, my mother would talk to crowds about the dangers of soil erosion and unsustainable farming.  She wasn’t a scientist, she was an actress.  Actually, she was a farm wife.

Let me back up and explain.  In 1984, the Land Stewardship Project of Minnesota knew that soil erosion was a problem.  They wanted to get people talking about solutions.  But they also knew that people are, by nature, skeptical – especially when prodded by those outside their community.

Land Stewardship Project Program Tri-fold 2

The Land Stewardship Project took an innovative approach, combining art and education to connect with rural communities across several Midwestern states.  They turned to a Midwestern author and environmentalist, Nancy Paddock, to write a one-woman show addressing themes of agricultural stewardship.

And, in a brilliant choice, they found local women to perform the play – women known and trusted by their communities, women with a solid Midwestern background – women like my mother.

My mother, traveling with a representative from the Land Stewardship Project, performed for audiences in church basements, community centers, even restaurants.  Following the hour-long show, the Land Stewardship representative led a community discussion reflecting on the themes of the play.

Phyllis Schrag and Family

Phyllis Schrag (center right) pictured with husband Larry, son Ben, and Ben’s family.

When I began working for Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks!, memories from this time in my childhood came rushing back to me.  I am proud of my mother for her role in helping foster healthy dialogue surrounding land stewardship, and I am proud of the chance to continue that effort through Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks!

-Ben Schrag

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