PHOTO: Nadia Lim. SUPPLIED
Nadia Lim & husband Carlos Bagrie take on their biggest project yet – taming 1200 acres of rugged Central Otago farmland at Royalburn Station. Follow them on their dream of becoming one of the best farms in the South.
According to STUFF forget competing or judging on MasterChef New Zealand, tackling Dancing With the Stars or launching My Food Bag, this might just be the toughest challenge Nadia Lim has faced.
Joining husband Carlos Bagrie in transforming a 135-year-old, 485-hectare Central Otago sheep and barley farm into the region’s top food producer – and filming all the highs and lows for a reality television series.
The result is Nadia’s Farm (which debuts on Three on Wednesday at 8.40pm), which while not nearly as chaotically compelling as Prime Video’s Clarkson’s Farm (this is hindered by a rather uninspired, characterless voiceover), or even quite as endearingly entertaining as her lockdown series Nadia’s Comfort Kitchen, certainly is absorbing, enlightening viewing that showcases a different side to the celebrity chef turned business entrepreneur.
Situated on an elevated site on the Crown Range between Wānaka and Arrowtown, Royalburn Station already presents plenty of challenges with the area’s climatic extremes for its traditional usage, let alone Lim’s ambitious plans to use four acres (1.6ha) for a market garden.
Even Bagrie is somewhat skeptical about this part of their “experiment”, especially when the seeds have been planted two months late and Lim holds a “biodynamics” party to try and “kick start” the growing process.
Plans to minimise what chemicals they are putting into the soil also hit a snag when their garlic crop is stunted by pervasive weeds, while we also witness a power cut which threatens to play havoc with their salad leaf operation.
However, while Bagrie is a calm presence in the face of any adversity (we’re told he’s a fifth-generation farmer), Nadia’s Farm proves a number of times during the opening episode just how innovative – and ruthless – Lim can be. Faced with infighting amongst her small home chicken flock, she dispatches her “chicken wrangler” to do the necessarily culling.
Tears are initially spilled, but it’s clear emotions are actually mixed, as she admits, “It’s sad to see him go, but I’m kind of looking forward to coq au vin.”
Likewise, we’re informed that a wild boar who dared cross her by getting into the crops, ended up as pancetta. DGL chief executive Simon Henry may count his lucky stars that he got off as lightly as he did.
And, as well as detailing the couple’s plans for an onsite abattoir and butchery, an Arrowtown-based farm shop (in the former Macetown brothel no less) and to sell everything from honey to wool blankets, sausages and lamb bacon, while improving the soil and adhering to a gold standard for animal ethics, Lim also demonstrates how they transformed a washing machine into a salad spinner and her steely competitive nature during a good-natured sales competition with Bagrie at the Arrowtown Farmer’s Market.
Future episodes promise plenty of drama, with weather bombs, crop failures and the pair’s own expectations that “when it comes to farming, things never go quite according to plan”.
It might not be to the taste of traditional, die hard Country Calendar fans, but as a real-life The Good Life and insight into the business of agriculture in contemporary New Zealand, Nadia’s Farm certainly offers food for thought, a few laughs and entertaining viewing.
Nadia Farm debuts on Three at 8.40pm on Wednesday, October 5. Episodes will also be available to stream on ThreeNow.
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