A little creativity, a lot of passion
and $350 could make you the proud owner of your very own organic
farm. David Howe, organic farmer, is giving away his 30-acre farm
including: farm house, all equipment, vehicles, office supplies,
membership to his farmers markets and everything else necessary
to run a successful farm operation to the winner of his essay contest
(for a complete list of included amenities go to www.organicfarmgiveaway.com).
Sound too good to be true? Well, I think that is exactly what Howe
is counting on. After running the Owl’s Nest Plantation, an
organic farm in rural south-central South Carolina, for 12-years
Howe is looking for someone with heart and a commitment to organic
farming and if this makes it possible for someone to pursue a farm
dream that would otherwise be impossible, even better. “We
are providing an opportunity that for many people would otherwise
be impossible,” Howe said quoting a recent visitor at the
To find a suitable owner for his beloved property Howe has asked
interested parties to answer the question “What does organic
farming mean to you?” Creativity is encouraged and essays
can take any form from personal stories to poems, one interested
party submitted an archetype for the official Owl’s Nest Plantation
website. One strict rule, all essays must be 250 words or less.
Of the essays received, Howe spoke of a moving life-profile that
spanned 10 pages. “I had to send it back to him high-lighting
the 250 word limit, I hope he sends it back,” he said. As
Howe puts it you have to have passion to sum up what organic farming
means to you in 250 words or less.
The other strict rule, the winner must agree to farm the land organically
for six months. To ease the apprehension of the novice farmer or
even provide advice to the expert, Howe is offering to spend those
six months at the new owner’s disposal training, explaining
nuances of the farm and market operation and answering any questions
about the farm.
Howe took over the Owl’s Nest in 1992 and, after determining
that the previous owners who used the property to run a horse farm
were not using chemicals, he quickly turned it over to organic.
Howe uses all the common organic management practices including:
a hearty crop-rotation cycle, composted manures, cover crops and
OMRI approved fertilizers when needed. The farm is also equipped
with a new energy-efficient 4000+ gallon stainless steel gravity
fed drip or impact sprinkler system to help even out temperamental
South Carolina weather and allow a greater variety of crops. The
farm was certified organic but certification has since lapsed. Howe
runs the farm basically on his own employing from a temporary labor
service when the work load becomes especially heavy. He finds this
method of employment “the most economical way to run a farm.”
Howe, who decided at 13 when he took over the family garden that
organic was the only way to grow, believes organic methods produce
a better quality, better texture and most importantly a better tasting
product. On the farm he grows tomatoes, cucumbers, squash (both
summer and winter), lettuce, green beans, spinach, melon and cut
flowers. There are also plums, pecans, figs, peaches and grapes.
Howe participates in four area farmers markets and a co-op. This
combination allows him to bring in a steady income year round.
News and interest in the contest are starting to spread as frequent
visits from local news media add to the air of excitement on the
farm. So far Howe has received 965 essays from all over the United
States, there has even been an essay received from Europe and this
morning he fielded a call from an interested Australian party. The
official deadline for the contest is July 30, 2003 but Howe will
only be accepting a maximum of 2500 essays so interested parties
should enter quickly. When asked what would be the minimum of essays
accepted. He said he hadn’t thought about it but he is hoping
for 2500, no more, no less.
Question: What does organic gardening mean
Length: 250 words or less
Format: any literary form
Deadline: July 30, 2003
Maximum number of entries accepted: 2500
Application fee: $349.00
For a complete list of contest rules visit: www.organicfarmgiveaway.com
Howe will narrow down the entrees to the top 100 essays himself
then a panel of 3 judges will select a winner, first and second
runner-up. Howe said he could not release the names of the judges
but assured all were recognized and active in the organic industry.
He agreed that they could even be called experts. Howe will retain
copyright to all essays and is planning to distribute the winning
essay to local and industry media outlets.