Why Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie had to consult Taylor Swift about their new 'Swifty' beer

Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie know a thing or two about taking on the big battles.

From dealing with cyclones, droughts and errant goats on their land, the Arrowtown-based pair have history on their side when it comes to protecting the future of their farm.

But the Nadia's Farm stars had to take on one of the biggest battles they've ever faced when creating their own beer - Taylor Swift.

In the latest season of their show, streaming on ThreeNow, Bagrie and Lim decide to use the excess barley they've harvested to create their own beer and ended up teaming up with Wellington's Garage Project to do so. They dabbled briefly in the beer industry in the first season, but this time around, decided it was time to look deeper at what they could do with their own products rather than just selling them on.

However, when the pair settled on the name 'Swifty' for the beer, it didn't prove to be as easy as they thought.

Bagrie told Newshub the beer's name came from an innocent place.

"The Swiftburn Stream flows through the farm and one of my staff Ollie said 'Swifty in the UK is to pull a quick pint' and we were like 'yep, that's it'."

"We did have to go through the legal process to get 'Swifty' trademarked," Lim said, before laughing at her husband and joking: "Carlos is also a massive Taylor Swift fan though," much to his chagrin.

It's this kind of push and pull that overtakes much of a chat with Lim and Bagrie about the latest season of Nadia's Farm. It's clear there's a connection and mutual respect between them, given how filming never really stopped after the success of the show's first season.

But if season one saw them try to make a go of life on the Royalburn Station, the second season sees them facing more of the reality of the farm world - from inflation eating into their own costs to dealing with crop failures.

"We've made like a series of decisions in season one and then in season two, it turns out it actually might not have been the right decision," Bagrie sighs.

Add into that an errant goat called Arthur running amok on the farm and it's clear they have their hands full this time.

Not that they seem to mind.

Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie on their farm.
Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie on their farm. Photo credit: Warner Bros Discovery

"I've always thought the overall lesson that I've learned with farming is that you really have to become comfortable with not being able to control or plan anything. There's just no point, really. Because you never know what curveballs you're going to get thrown and what the seasons will bring. So you actually have to become a person that's very comfortable with just going with the flow," Lim reveals.

She should know - during the harvest season of February 2023, Lim gave birth to her third child, Arlo, "just as the sun set".

As for Arthur the goat, it's clear, like sons Arlo, River and Bodhi, he's just part of the family.

"So sweet, Arthur. So sweet, but so naughty. We love Arthur, but he is so much trouble," Lim reveals. "The problem is that he thinks he's a dog though."

"He is so friendly. It's just like having a pet dog. Yeah, but I reckon he's even friendlier than most animals," Bagrie wistfully says.

It's pertinent they take in the lighter moments like this to appreciate what they've got - it's part of the philosophy that keeps them together - because there's a reality that's hit more in 2024 for the Royalburn Station, which has not proved immune to cost of living rises and inflationary issues.

Nadia Lim says she has learnt a lot from life on the farm.
Nadia Lim says she has learnt a lot from life on the farm. Photo credit: Warner Bros Discovery

"When we look at our numbers now, we have probably increased costs in the vicinity of 40 percent. Between rates, insurance and trust staff costs, and just even fuel costs. And the commodity prices are about 30 percent back from where they were," Bagrie acknowledges.

"Our biggest issue is just compliance costs. The paperwork involved today compared to, you know, what farmers had meant they used to be able to get on with things more," Lim explains.

"Our farm manager about more than 50 percent of her role now is paperwork. So she can't get on with a lot of practical stuff and do the actual farming."

However, both Bagrie and Lim say they have a no-nonsense approach to their problems in 2024. They're united in believing the sector needs to expand in order to thrive and survive.

"We have some very innovative and very clever farmers in New Zealand. But not to take away from the innovative farmers but I think our opportunity here in NZ is to really dial up the value, the value-added aspects of what we produce," Bagrie says.

"Like how do we produce the very best dairy products, how do we produce the very best meat products? How do we, you know, how do we continue producing sustainably fresh kaimoana. What are the things that we can do?"

Lim, who's scored success with her cooking on shows like MasterChef New Zealand, is also adamant it's about time we started marketing New Zealand as a food and agri-tourism destination, combining the best of what we have to offer.

Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie on their farm.
Nadia Lim and Carlos Bagrie on their farm. Photo credit: Warner Bros Discovery

"When you think about how many people around the world go to Italy because of the food? I mean, they go to Italy for their food, and New Zealand could become like that, that people could want to go to New Zealand for the food. Through agri-tourism New Zealand could become as well known as Italy, an amazing country where the food you eat is just like straight from the farm, you know, farm. Real true farm to plate kind of stuff."

As for the pair's future, Lim believes it's probably fate that one of her three sons will take on the running of the farm at some point.

But Bagrie is more philosophical.

"I wouldn't want to push my kids into any particular job. I think at the end of the day, it's that that option will hopefully be open to them, but they might want to choose a different career path. What I would hope is the kids grow up with the knowledge from having lived on a farm, that things aren't always black and white. And therein lies probably the one key piece of advice that I've learned in my farming career."

As for the future for now, a busy schedule will see Bagrie heading abroad to learn more about farming practices as part of an elite Nuffield Farming Scholarship he was awarded last year. Lim will go with him on some of the travels as well, but is coy about where and when.

However, one thing she's certain of after months of filming, raising a new son, and being consumed by farm life is that their focus needs to be a little more on each other.

"More recently, I think we've learned maybe that we don't spend enough personal time together, which we have to work on because we've worked together for so long, and the farm basically takes over your life, and a young family takes over your life. We've kind of identified that we might actually need to spend more time on us together."

Season two of Nadia's Farm is streaming on ThreeNow, and the duo's beer Swifty will be released in shops around April 22.