How To Win The Organic Farm Essay Contest

Our monthly Insteading contest is, we think, pretty darn good. But we can’t compete with this.

Via the UK Daily Mail:

Architect-turned farmer Norma Burns has owned Bluebird Hill Farm in Bennett, North Carolina, for 18 years, but says she is ready to return to Raleigh for a more urban life.


Before she does so, she wants to leave her farm in the hands of a “committed couple,” which is why she is calling for 200-word essays from people about why they want to own the farm.

The winning couple will get the title to the farm, worth about $450,000.

bluebird hill farm

Bluebird Hill Farm. Photo via Bluebird Hill Farm Essay Contest

Before you open up your preferred text-editing program, you must know about a few important entry requirements.

According to the contest rules (downloadable as a Microsoft Word doc here), entrants must be couples in a committed relationship. As the rules state: “Experience has shown that Bluebird Hill Farm cannot be operated successfully by a single individual.”

At least one member of the couple must be between the ages of 25 and 50, and at least one must be a US citizen or permanent resident.

Also, forget about submitting your entry online. The “essay must be typed or printed on one side of a single sheet of white 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch paper.”


To avoid a flood of entries, and to weed out folks who aren’t serious, the contest requires a $300 entry fee. If you want to go for it, all the info is here.

Entries must be postmarked by June 1, 2017, and arrive to the essay contest P.O. Box by June 5, 2017. Don’t risk your future on the vagaries of postal delivery—get writing now!

As a professional writer and one-time 8th-grade essay contest honorable mention designant, I’d like to supply some advice.

    • 200 words is very, very short for an essay. The Gettysburg Address, famous for its brevity, is 272 words. Your essay should contain no adverbs, and only a few, very sharp, adjectives.

For an idea of how to compose something this short, watch the writing scene from A River Runs Through It.

  • Your first sentence will be all-important. The judges—an attorney, a conservationist, and an agricultural professional—will have to read hundreds of these essays, and you’ll need to stand out. Deliver your vision for the farm as clearly as you can in that first sentence.
  • For God’s sake proofread! Nothing betrays incompetence faster than a typo. Note that one of the judges is an attorney—your tpyo typo will not go undetected.
  • If it were me, I’d type it on a typewriter. Not only will this proffer some rustic charm, it displays a dedication to the old-school skills necessary to run a farm.

Good luck. If you win, I’ll be demanding a visit and some complimentary yams.

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Comments
  1. Legally, this is a property RAFFLE. Usually this is not legal, but, since an attorney is involved AND there is already an Agricultural Easement (farm cannot be developed in the future), the State has probably approved this type of sale.

    The land is assessed ~$200,000 because of the easement. Each entry costs $300.00. The site says that if enough entries are submitted the winner will receive $50,000.00 to start-up the farm. I assume that minimum number of entries is 1,000. That means the current owner makes $250,000.00 on the sale ($300,000 – $50,000). So, she makes $50,000 above the current tax assessment value.

    Due to the easement restrictions & lack of qualified, experienced farmers able to purchase the farm outright, this is a great deal for her. The farm is no longer active, which implies the infrastructure is old and requires maintenance. Her “assumed value” of $450,000.00 is pie-in-the-sky.

    This is NOT a “gift” as she states, but is is a GREAT and FAIR deal for any lucky winner and the seller as well.

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