Essex couple selling farm through contest

How would you like to win a farm for just $200 and an essay? A couple in Essex County is selling their farm through a contest. Why hold a contest, rather than just sell it? We went to find out.

Nestled in a tiny place called Hustle, Virginia, about a half hour from Fredericksburg, you'll find Rock Spring Farm.

Owner Carolyn Berry described what it's like to live there. "It's 35 acres of absolute Heaven. Heaven on earth. We have trails through the woods, we have pastures for the horses."

It's where husband and wife Randy Silvers and Carolyn Berry live, along with their horses Belle, Eyore, and Byron.

"We like to love on each other," said Silvers, while Byron gave his nose a nuzzle.

Getting ready to retire, rather than sell the farm, they're holding a contest to find a sort of heir. For $200 and a 1000 word essay, anyone can win it.

"Being able to pick a successor was the nearest thing he would have to leaving a legacy to a family member," Berry explained.

There's some history to this farm. Silvers says it was originally purchased by William Pilkington back in 1726, a former indentured servant. Silvers built the current house on the same foundation where Pilkington's grandson built a house in 1790.

"Randy had archeologists from William and Mary come out and document that was the 1790 foundation," said Berry.

The couple says they've received a couple thousand essays so far. "There was one in particular that wrote about, she imagined she had already won, and it was a year later, and she was having her first thanksgiving in the house," Berry recalled.

They hope to receive 5000 entries, raising $1 million. Berry explains, "$600,000 is the county assessment (of the property), and out of the money we get from the 5000 entries, we have to pay a huge chunk of income tax."

If they don't get enough entries, the couple says they'll give refunds. But they'd prefer to change someone's life forever.

Said Berry, "There are essays that we've read and tears have just streamed down my face because they're so heartfelt."

Essays are due October first. They hope to announce the winner on Thanksgiving.  You'll find more information on the Rock Spring Farm Facebook page and website.

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