You could win a farm with an essay and $300. But you’re running out of time.
Norma Burns is the owner and operator of Bluebird Hill Farm in Bennett, a small town in Chatham County a little more than an hour west of Raleigh. The farm is 12.88 acres and USDA-certified organic. And Burns wants to give it away to whoever wins her essay contest.
The topic for the 200-word essay is “Why we want to own and operate Bluebird Hill Farm” and the deadline is June 1. There’s a $300 entry fee. At first there was an age requirement of 25 to 50 years old, but Burns later removed the requirement and said experience and capability are the most important criteria.
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Entries must be postmarked no later than the June 1 deadline and arrive at the Siler City post office by June 5. Any submission arriving on June 6 or later will be returned. If Burns extends the deadline, she will post the new deadline on the Bluebird Hill Farm Facebook page after June 6. She also handles all communication about the farm and the essay opportunity through the Facebook page. All questions must be submitted through the Bluebird Hill Farm Facebook page.
But with more interest pouring in from some who seem to have just learned about the contest, Burns may extend the deadline.
Burns didn’t reveal how many essays she had received as of Tuesday, but said she’s waiting to see how many she gets before she decides if she will extend the deadline.
“We are waiting to see how many applications come in by the deadline for receipt (June 5),” Burns said in an emailed. “I will make an announcement on June 9 about how we will proceed. We will communicate on that day. Before I make that announcement, I want to communicate with the Facebook friends who have been so interested and supportive and get their buy-in for the extension.”
For complete information about the essay opportunity, the farmhouse amenities, the site data, and the farm buildings and equipment that will be conveyed, go to: www.essaybluebirdhillfarm.com.
Judging by a special “selection committee” – which does not include Burns – will begin June 19. The winners and two runners-up will be notified by June 30.
Burns wants to come back to Raleigh and a more urban lifestyle. But she wants to leave her farm in good hands, a “committed couple of any description with the life experience and physical stamina that active farming requires.” And the “couple” part is key, she said, since “experience has shown that Bluebird Hill Farm can’t be operated successfully by a single individual.”
The winning couple will get the title to the farm, worth about $450,000, Burns said. The property is subject to an agricultural conservation easement. The winner receives the whole farm – the land, house, gardens, outbuildings and some equipment and furnishings.