Looking for something both agricultural and entertaining to binge-watch during your winter hibernation?
The concept of The Farm, one of the more popular agricultural reality TV shows globally, involves a group of D-list celebrities, who typically have no experience pulling weeds or mucking out goat pens, thrown together with the goal of producing a harvest while avoiding the chaos that can so easily consume any agricultural enterprise. Each week, someone gets voted off by viewers. Vanilla Ice, who has a blossoming second career in the reality TV business, was once a contestant in the U.K. version of The Farm. Alas, the franchise, which hails from Sweden and has been produced in about 40 countries, has yet to make it to America. But there are a few farm reality shows for American viewers to choose from.
Farmer Wants a Wife
Modeled on The Bachelor, this one is as campy as it gets, which is probably why it only lasted one season. But you can still watch old episodes here. Episodes from some of the international versions, many of which are hilarious in a B-movie kind of way, can be found on YouTube.
Vanilla Ice Goes Amish
The Farm was just a one-off for Vanilla Ice. He has a regular gig with the DIY Network (which has hosted multiple Vanilla Ice home-improvement shows), in which he apprentices with Amish farmers in Ohio to learn the secrets of building barns sans power tools, screws and nails. It’s actually quite enthralling.
This long-running series tugs at the heartstrings. The King family — a single mom and her 10 kids (nine boys and a girl), the youngest with Down syndrome — runs Freedom Farms, a diversified vegetable and livestock operation outside of Pittsburgh. It isn’t an organic farm, but they make some effort to produce their wares in a natural and sustainable way. The trials and tribulations of managing community-supported agriculture (CSA) customers and farmers’ market stands provide an unexpected degree of dramatic tension.
The newest addition to the genre is less heartfelt and more tractor-heavy. The Huwa family in Colorado operates a cattle ranch, among other enterprises, in a sprawling agribusiness empire. Expect lots of heavy machinery and rodeo scenes.