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Silent Heroes Essay Contest House

A North Carolina woman wants to give her 13-acre organic farm away to a couple who wins her essay contest.

Architect-turned farmer Norma Burns has owned Bluebird Hill Farm in Bennett for 18 years, but says she is ready to return to Raleigh for a more urban life.  

Before she does so, she wants to leave her farm in the hands of a 'committed couple,' which is why she is calling for 200-word essays from people about why they want to own the farm. 

The owner of an organic farm in North Carolina is giving it away to the winners of a 200-word essay contest 

'To me, there's no better calling in life than raising organic food,' Burns said. I’m looking for a like-minded couple who have experience and training in organic farming and are willing and able to put in the long days and hard work that farming requires.' 

Norma Burns has run the farm for 18 years, but is moving back to Raleigh 

Burns said that she's looking for a couple to run the farm because 'experience has shown that Bluebird Hill Farm can't be operated successfully by a single individual'. 

Burns ran the farm with her husband, North Carolina State University Professor Bob Burns, until his death in 2005. 

'When my late husband [NCSU Professor Bob Burns] and I purchased the farm, it was a derelict property,' she said, 'a barn without a roof, a neglected house, and abandoned gardens. After nearly 18 years of work, love, and care, the farm has become what we envisioned it to be. It would mean so much to me to see it in the care of someone committed to its continued improvement.”

The winning couple will get the title to the farm, worth about $450,000. A $300 entry fee is required and a panel of judges - including an attorney, a conservationist and an agricultural professional - will choose the winners. Burns herself will not be involved in the selection of the winning couple. The deadline is June 1 and the winners will be announced June 30.

More information is available at http://www.bluebirdhillfarmessaycontest.com/

The farm is certified USDA organic. One of the main crops is lavender (seen above in full bloom)


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Holocaust-commemoration activists in Poland launched with British government funding a last-ditch effort to interview witnesses to attempts to rescue Jews during from the genocide.

The campaign, titled “Silent Heroes,” was announced Thursday at a news conference in Warsaw that was organized by the From the Depths organization and attended by the United Kingdom’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues, Eric Pickles, and the head of Poland’s largest Jewish organization, TSKZ President Artur Hoffman.

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Eric Pickles (Communities and Local Government Office)

One witness who was interviewed last month, Natalia Jakoniuk, suffered a debilitating stroke the following week, demonstrating how “time is of the essence and not on our side,” From the Depths founder, Jonny Daniels, said.

Under the new campaign, in which journalists and researchers conduct filmed interviews with witnesses, posters asking witnesses to step forward will be placed in government offices with nationwide distribution.

In her testimony, Jakoniuk, who was a child younger than 10 during World War II, said she recalls people living in the attic of her home in the village of Przeradz Maly outside Warsaw. “They didn’t tell us, the children,” she said of her parents. But they did instruct her to be “on the lookout, to see if the German gendarmerie who invaded Poland were coming.”

One time, when she was six years old, she was told to run to neighboring village to warn the residents that the Germans were coming, she said. “That was my job,” she recalled in the interview. That year, a German soldier inspected their house and complimented her mother on how tidy it was, not knowing there were Jews hiding in the attic.

“If he had taken a ladder and climbed up to the attic, we would have all been killed,” she said.

From the Depths attempts to substantiate the testimonies it is collecting with Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance and other archives, Daniels said.

Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem-based Holocaust museum, is the authority entrusted by Israel’s government to confer the title of Righteous Among the Nations on non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jews. The rigorous vetting process requires testimonies by several people who witnessed the attempt. The cases documented by From the Depths may not pass this vetting “simply because not all rescue cases had witnesses,” Daniels said, adding: “This is about documentation, not titles.”

Hoffman said his motivation for making TSKZ a partner in the project is that: “The world needs to see what good people can do in bad times, what being a true hero is.”

Poland under President Andrzej Duda of the right-wing Law and Justice Party has highlighted the actions of Poles who saved Jews, including by opening a museum for them.

Critics of Poland’s government, including the country’s main federation of Jewish organizations, allege that its nationalist agenda is emboldening anti-Semites and that its emphasis on rescuers must not come at the expense of efforts to research and expose collaboration by Poles and atrocities by locals against Jews.

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