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Reality show turns young artists into influential agri-preneurs

By Yang Xiaoyu | | Updated: 2024-04-25 14:55
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Four of the Shigeqintian farming youths (from left to right) — Chen Shaoxi, Zhao Yibo, Zhuo Yuan, and He Haonan, guide a group of journalists to visit their farm at Houdoumen in Sanlian village, Xihu district of Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province, on April 14, 2024. [Photo provided to]

As Western audiences are eagerly awaiting the new season of Clarkson's Farm, a growing number of Chinese audiences are paying close attention to the day-to-day goings-on at a farm in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, where Become a Farmer Season 2, a hit farming-focused reality show available for streaming on iQIYI, is being made.

Unlike the British documentary starring Jeremy Clarkson, a bigwig presenter and journalist, Become a Farmer casts 10 obscure Gen-Z male artists who are musicians or actors handpicked from over 200 applicants in 2022.

A media tour in mid-April organized by the show's creators, iQIYI and Blue Sky Media, took dozens of journalists to 58 Houdoumen in Sanlian village, Sandun township of Xihu district, where the 10 young men farm.

The golden rapeseed flowers are packed out in the field farmed by Shigeqintian at Sanlian village, Xihu distirct of Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang province, on April 14, 2024. [Photo by Yang Xiaoyu/]

About half an hour's drive from downtown Hangzhou, the village appeared. Bathed in balmy, exquisite spring weather, the golden rapeseed flowers are in full bloom. The wheat fields are an expanse of hopeful greenness. Foxgloves open in the garden, kale and strawberries are exuberant in the greenhouse, honeybees buzz around, and rabbits chill in their little cages. Everything is coming alive — intoxicating.

Striking the audience as unlikely farmers as Clarkson was when the show started in February 2023, the 10 farming greenhorns, born between 1995 and 2004, embarked on a 190-day journey of tackling fickle weather, dilapidated houses, and wayward animals to turn a profit from nearly 10 hectares of fields.

Foxgloves and blueberries are exuberant in the garden kept by Shigeqintian, on April 14, 2024. [Photo by Yang Xiaoyu/]

First of its kind in the country, the show was initially doubted as an attention-seeking stunt, but it soon proved to audiences that they were mistaken.

Through 50 slow-paced, documentary-like features and a plethora of live streams and vlogs, it followed the group bent on ploughing, digging ditches, sowing seeds, fertilizing, making greenhouses, revamping their dorms, and much more. It offered a panorama of Chinese farmers' lives and an up-close look at the ins and outs of modern farm work.

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