For $200 and an essay, you could own a seriously massive farm
How much do you think a beautiful 35-acre horse farm in Hustle, Virginia is worth? The answer is, well, a pretty darn big number. But one couple is giving up their $600,000 property for just $200. . . and a thousand words.
Randy Silvers took over Rock Spring Farm, a beautiful property two hours south of Washington, almost two decades ago. But it wasn’t as breathtaking back then. The farm, which dates back to the 18th century, was practically barren when he took it over, according to the Washington Post. Now, it has a gorgeous, three-story home, a two-bedroom cottage, a barn, and even a woodworking shop (with AC!). And if you’ve got a thing for trail-riding, listen up: it’s got over two miles of horse trails, 35 acres of land, and a maze of trees complete with lovely creeks and streams.
Sadly, last year, Silvers was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, making the upkeep of his beloved farm incredibly difficult. “[The farm is] his dream,” Silver’s wife, Carolyn Berry, explained to the Washington Post. “It’s like he’s living his dream. And it’s sad, but his dream needs to morph into another dream.”
Silvers and Berry may have their day jobs — he’s a construction foreman; she’s a director of a tutoring facility — but their true passion is their farm, where they can live a private life with their horses, Byron, Belle, and Eeyore. And that’s why they don’t want to give the farm to the highest bidder. More important than the money, the couple wants someone who will appreciate and love their farm just as much as they have.
“[Silver] was adamant that he was not going to sell,” Berry told the Washington Post. But Berry knew that her husband needed to leave the farm or his condition would worsen, so she started researching options. That’s when she came up with the idea of an essay contest. It’s not the first time a property went on sale for an essay in place of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In May, a Houston-area couple also announced a $150 essay contest as a way to sell their home. Unfortunately, that sale didn’t proceed because they didn’t raise enough in application fees.
But Berry is hopeful that her farm’s essay contest will work out. She’s already created a site for interested parties to apply online.
Are you interested in applying to land this beautiful property for your own? You’ve got some time — the essay contest ends October 1st. From the (probably massive) pool of applicants, 25 will be selected by the couple, which will then be sent to a panel of three judges. Not just any judges, by the way: an educator, a hobby farmer, and a horse enthusiast, according to the Washington Post. After all, you’ve gotta love horses and farming. The new owner will be announced on or before November 26th.
Berry also gave some more tips to Washington Post on how to make your essay more likely to be the winning ticket. “The opening paragraph has to grab you,” Berry said. “It has to say ‘read me.’ No spelling, writing, grammar mistakes. And they have to spell out how they’ll take care of the farm.” Hey, for only $200, that sounds pretty reasonable to us. If the couple doesn’t get enough essays submitted, they will be listing the property for its retail value and returning every applicant’s fee. Currently, the essay contest is being reviewed by the Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs under the grounds that the couple could stand to make a lot of money, making the legality of this enterprise a bit murky. But of course, the couple isn’t being treated as if they have malicious intentions, according to Essex County Commonwealth’s Attorney Vince Donoghue.
“This is a nice family just trying to give away a house and pay off the mortgage,” Donoghue told Washington Post. “We settled upon $200 because it would require fewer entries and generate enough money for us to pay the remaining mortgage, buy a retirement home, pay Uncle Sam a huge chunk of money, and establish college funds for our four grandsons,” the couple wrote on their site. “Plus, the odds of submitting a winning essay would be greater than if we charged a lesser fee, but required more entries.”
Sounds fair to us. OK, off to write our essays. May the best farm-lovin’ horse enthusiast win.