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"110% real": New season of 'Nadia's Farm' shows the realities of Royalburn Station

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Apr 2024, 8:30AM
Photo / Newstalk ZB
Photo / Newstalk ZB

"110% real": New season of 'Nadia's Farm' shows the realities of Royalburn Station

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Apr 2024, 8:30AM

It's been about five years since Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie took over Royalburn Station, their endeavours growing the 485-hectare farm into the agricultural powerhouse it's become. 

Founded in 1887, Royalburn Station has a lengthy history filled with grains; barley, wheat, sunflower seeds, peas, and clover seeds quickly becoming the backbone of Lim and Bagrie’s business. 

When they bought Royalburn in 2019 neither of them had any experience with running a farm. Bagerie may have grown up on a southland sheep farm but he’s a marketer by trade, and while growing up in dense cities influenced Lim’s cooking, it left little space for farmwork. 

Needless to say, it was a learning experience for both of them. 

“What I’ve learned is that you’ve got to be someone that’s okay with not being in control, because things never, ever go your way,” Lim told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking. 

“That’s probably one of the biggest skills you kind of need to have if you’re gonna go into farming.” 

Royalburn Station sits on the Crown Terrace between Arrowtown and Wanaka, surrounded by mountains, a view Lim describes as ‘paradise’. 

485-hectares is quite a significant amount of land but all of it is in use, Royalburn Station even having its own abattoir. 

“You don’t need one,” Bagrie said. “But if you want the very best meat, you kind of want one.” 

The pair’s vision for their farm is to create the most beautiful farm in the world, a quality that goes deeper than aesthetics as they aim to be a leader in regenerative, diverse, and ethical food production. ‘The very best’ in every area they produce.  

“We actually won the New Zealand Food Producers Award last year for our lamb,” Lim revealed. 

Moving down from Auckland, they weren’t met with the kindest reception, rumours and gossip going around calling them ‘pretend farmers’. 

“But I think now people get it that actually, it is a proper working farm.” 

Bagrie and Lim have diversified the farm quite significantly over the years, producing not only grains and lamb, but also honey, free range eggs, and produce from their organic market garden. 

They’ve found success with their model but according to Bagrie, it’s not a model that would work for everyone, their location highly influencing their success. 

“I think out model works because of, I mean, to be really frank, because of our ability to be able to supply those restaurants and have those direct relationships.” 

Building an agricultural powerhouse is not an easy task, but they’ve now settled into something of a rhythm. 

“We’ve been doing so many new things, this year is all just going to be about not doing anything new, just solidifying what we’ve got,” Lim told Hosking with a laugh. 

Diversifying to the extent they have has a certain amount of risk, as if they’re not careful they can spread their production too thin. 

“You’ll see when you watch the show, there is a lot of simplification happening.” 

The show in question is the second season of Nadia’s Farm, the first episode having premiered last night. While reality TV tends to be dramatized for entertainment purposes, Lim said that this show is 100% real. 

“I’ve done quite a bit of TV now and this show is like, unlike any other show I’ve ever done.” 

“There’s no scripting, like no makeup, no team. We just go out there and film it,” Lim revealed. 

“It’s as natural, and organic, and unpanned as it gets.” 

Bagrie and Lim don’t want to shy away from the reality of farm life in this show, showing both the pleasantries and the nitty gritty. 

“I feel like a lot of the problems we’ve run into now with how food gets to your plate, and a lot of, a lot of it has become taboo and people don’t want to talk about it or know about it.” 

“The more you hide, the worse that knowledge gap becomes.” 

‘Nadia’s Farm’ is out now on ThreeNow and Three. 


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