Paul and Leslie Spell own Humble Heart Farms, a goat farm and creamery in northern Alabama with a fabulous herd. They recently put their farm up for grabs: Rather than sell it, though, the retiring owners are holding an essay contest to get the farm into the hands of another worthy farmer—experienced or wannabe.
According to WAAY TV, the couple originally tried to sell the farm but hit a roadblock when those interested couldn’t afford the $350,000 price tag. They were inspired by Janice Sage, the owner of Maine’s Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant, who held an similar contest to give away the ownership of her business.
Entrants must write and submit an essay that, in 200 words or less, persuades the current owners, as well as a small panel of independent judges, why he or she is the perfect candidate to take on 20 acres, 85 goats, and their beloved goat-cheese operation. There is a $150 entry fee which, if there are at least 2,500 entries, will cover the remaining mortgage and arm the winner with $20,000 in start-up costs.
The Spells opine that there are two reasons why people daydream of dairy but don’t latch: finances and opportunity. The cost, both outright and day-to-day, can be too large for some to handle. On top of that, it takes time and work to become established and profitable.
The couple told WAAY TV that they, “hope to change someone’s life with their offer,” and plan to teach the new owners the ins and outs of the goat-cheese game. And don’t worry, novices: One of Humble Heart’s in-house cheesemakers is staying on board.
“Not to say they won’t have struggles or stuff to figure out, but they are going to start with a product that has a following,” Leslie said to WAAY TV. “They can pick it up and start running and I am so excited to see where they take it.”
Where will the Spells be once the new owners take on the farm? They’ll be in Costa Rica, teaching similar skills to missionaries starting goat farms.
Check out the contest rules and enter here by October 1, 2015. You might think it sounds too good to be true, but, trust us, they’re not kidding around.
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We’ve provided a lot of resources to help Penny Hoarder readers earn money from their writing. Here’s a new one for you: A couple in Elkmont, Alabama is ready to give their 20-acre goat farm — including 85 goats — to whomever writes the best application essay.
Leslie and Paul Spell originally tried to sell their goat farm, but discovered that “most interested potential buyers couldn’t afford it,” according to Mashable. So they came up with a plan that would give people the chance to win the goat farm instead.
The Rules for the Goat Farm Contest
The Spells created a website, Goat Dairy Essay, where you can learn more about the farm and the contest.
If you would like to submit an essay, prepare 200 words on “Why I, or my organization, is the perfect fit to continue the farmstead goat cheese tradition.” 200 words isn’t a lot — it’s just about four or five paragraphs — so be prepared to make every word count.
The contest runs through October 1, 2015, so you have plenty of time to draft and revise your essay. The Spells will select the top 20 essays and pass them along to three judges, including a representative of the Alabama A&M University Agricultural Extension Commission, to select the winner.
If you’re the lucky new farmer, be prepared to pack your bags and move in right away; the Spells are ready to train you on the business of running a goat farm from November 1-15, but after that, you’re on your own.
The Entry Fee for This Writing Contest
Before you enter the essay contest, make sure you’re willing to pay the $150 entry cost. The Spells are hoping to use the entry fees from their contest — which they anticipate will total $375,000 — to pay off their mortgage before passing their goat farm along to the winning essay writer.
It’s pretty clear who the real winner is here: the Spells, who have found a truly innovative way of making money, paying off their mortgage and transferring ownership of 85 goats at the same time!
Want to know more? Read the full story at Mashable.
Your Turn: Do you want to enter this essay contest? Do you think the Spells have hit on an ingenious idea for making money and transferring ownership of their farm?
Nicole Dieker is a freelance copywriter and essayist. She writes regularly for The Billfold on the intersection of freelance writing and personal finance, and her work has also appeared in The Toast, Yearbook Office and Boing Boing.