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Pop CultureOctober 17, 2022

Nadia’s Farm is Nadia Lim like you’ve never seen her before

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We know her best as the winner of Masterchef NZ and the face of My Food Bag, but Three’s new series shows us Nadia Lim in a whole new light. Tara Ward watches and learns.

The lowdown

The opening moments of Nadia’s Farm are full of surprises. First, we see Nadia Lim hugging a goat, then she runs her finger through fresh runny honey, before her husband Carlos Bagrie offers to give his combine harvester a loving massage. Rude? We’ll show you rude: here’s Nadia Lim, grunting as she drags a dead sheep across a paddock like she’s the murderer in a grim crime drama.

This is the Masterchef winner like we’ve never seen her before: goat whisperer, sheep undertaker, frolicking farmer. Nadia’s Farm follows Nadia and Carlos as they farm Royalburn Station, a 1,200-acre property on the Crown Range in Central Otago. Carlos comes from a long line of farmers, and together the couple hope to become leaders in regenerative and ethical farming. Nadia and Carlos dream of becoming the region’s top food producer, and have grand plans to run a farm store, an abattoir, a butchery, a market garden and a brewery. By treating their animals well and farming sustainably, they hope to change the world one organic garlic crop at a time.

Carlos Bagrie and Nadia Lim (Photo: Three)

It’s the same kind of ambitious thinking that saw some farmers blow a foo-foo valve during a recent Country Calendar episode, and Nadia and Carlos know their methods are unconventional by traditional farming standards. They persist when their garlic crop is swallowed up by weeds, the market garden proves too labour intensive, and the barley crop is ruined by bad weather. Nadia’s Farm doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of farming, and we’re constantly reminded that success or failure often rests with factors well out of the farmers’ control.

The good

After two episodes, I really want Nadia and Carlos to change the world. The scenery in Nadia’s Farm is spectacular – all soft Central Otago sunsets and wide mountain shots – but the main reason to enjoy the show is Nadia herself. She’s eminently likeable, the first to get her hands dirty, and she and Carlos never take themselves too seriously. They’re also not afraid to fail on national television, as they struggle to balance the challenges of farming with the ever-present need to make a living.

Nadia Lim and a field of tiny garlic (Photo: Three)

They know they’ll get things wrong, which makes their successes even sweeter. The wonder of producing a jar of Royalburn alpine honey is full of uncomplicated joy, and you can only admire Nadia’s passion and enthusiasm as she connects with the land in a variety of ways. Nadia’s Farm is sponsored by My Food Bag, and each episode sees chef Nadia bust out a recipe from her own kitchen, like coq au vin made from a bully rooster or rabbit freshly shot by Carlos. It’s the farm-to-plate idea that Nadia loved on Masterchef NZ, and you can’t eat any more local than that.

The bad

Send me to farm machinery jail, but combine harvester chat does not make the best television. Carlos loves his combine harvester like Nadia loves a lamb tagine with date couscous, and he waxed lyrical about the power of this mechanical beast for what felt like hours. That aside, there’s really not much to dislike about Nadia’s Farm, unless you hate an outside-the-box idea. This includes Nadia using a washing machine to spin wet lettuce, or her unusual efforts to lure her escaped goats back to their paddock by encouraging them to “frolic” with her. You’ll never see that on Country Calendar.

The verdict

Nadia’s Farm is a light, feel-good watch. The scenery is stunning and Nadia generously shares her life and family with viewers, which makes it an easy show to escape into. It’s a celebration of perseverance and determination, of trying to make a difference, of grabbing life by the goat’s horns. But easy as it is to watch, it certainly doesn’t make farming look easy, and you’ll gain a new respect for that bag of mixed greens currently turning to soup in the bottom of your fridge. Maybe Nadia’s farm will work, and maybe it won’t (don’t worry, it will) – but either way, you’ll have a lovely time watching it happen.

Nadia’s Farm screens on Wednesdays at 7.30pm on Three, and streams on ThreeNow. 

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