By Dan Kedmey
July 20, 2015

A Virginia couple offered writers a shot at owning their bucolic, 18th century horse farm, so long as they can explain in 1,000 words or less why they’re worthy of the property.

Owner Carolyn Berry, along with her husband Randy Silvers, said that she harbored no ill will toward real estate agents, but dreaded the idea of a potential owner “traipsing across the property, and pointing out what they might consider a flaw,” according to local radio broadcaster WAMU.

To safeguard against gut renovations, the couple has announced an essay competition to give away Rock Spring Farm in Essex County, a property valued at $600,000, Berry says, to “somebody who loves the land as much as we do.” Essays will be evaluated by an expert panel of “educators, hobby farmers, and horse enthusiasts,” according to the contest’s submission guidelines.

The catch? Contest rules require a $200 submission fee, which the couple hopes will net enough funds to pay off their mortgage and retire comfortably in the knowledge that their farm won’t be redeveloped into a property solely for humans.

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