The owner and operator of Bluebird Hill Farm, located in Bennett, a small town in Chatham County, North Carolina, a little more than an hour west of Raleigh, is searching for the ideal couple to take over her farm.

The 12.88-acre farm is USDA-certified organic and worth about $450,000, so if you've ever dreamed of owning an operating this type of establishment but haven't had that cash, you could be in luck because Burns wants to give it away to the lucky winner of her essay contest.

To be the next owner, all you need is $300 and the perfect 200 words so she can be sure it goes to the right people.

“To me, there’s no better calling in life than raising organic food,” said Burns, an award-winning architect-turned-farmer. “I’m looking for a like-minded couple who have experience and training in organic farming and are willing and able to put in the long days and hard work that farming requires. The only thing they don’t have is an actual farm. I want to make it possible for these new farmers to get started.”

She has been growing herbs, specialty vegetables, native plants, cut flowers, farm crafts and food products on the farm.

Burns wants to come back to Raleigh to enjoy a more urban lifestyle after running her farm for nearly two decades. She says the “couple” part is key, since “experience has shown that Bluebird Hill Farm can’t be operated successfully by a single individual.”

Calling her essay contest “A Gift of Good Land,” in homage to American novelist, poet, and environmental activist Wendell Berry, Burns has set up a website dedicated to the contest – www.bluebirdhillfarmessaycontest.com – that explains all the details about the prize, including the eligibility requirements, entry fee and how to enter.

The owner herself won’t be the one judging the contest. A panel of judges, including an attorney, a conservationist and an agriculture professional will choose the winners.

For more information on Bluebird Hill Farm, go to the farm’s Facebook page. The winners will be announced on the Facebook page June 30.

“When my late husband (North Carolina State University Professor Bob Burns) and I purchased the farm, it was a derelict property,” Burns said, “A barn without a roof, a neglected house and abandoned gardens. After nearly 18 years of work, love, and care, the farm has become what we envisioned it to be. It would mean so much to me to see it in the care of someone committed to its continued improvement.”

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