Calgary

Will love blossom for this Alberta farmer on a Belgian reality show?

This fall, Bjorn Bonjean will star in a reality television show that's kind of like a Belgian edition of The Bachelor.

Bjorn Bonjean starring in a reality television show that's kind of like a Belgian edition of The Bachelor

Bjorn Bonjean moved from Belgium to Canada as a child. This fall, he's starring in a Flemish-language reality show about his quest to find love. (Submitted by Bjorn Bonjean)

A southern Alberta farmer is about to become famous in Belgium.

Bjorn Bonjean is starring in a reality television show airing in Europe next month that's kind of like a Belgian edition of The Bachelor.

Bonjean — who moved to Canada from Belgium as a child — is the head winemaker at Spirit Hills Honey Winery, which his family owns and runs in Millarville, Alta., about an hour southwest of Calgary.

The impetus for the TV appearance actually happened a few years ago, when a documentary filmmaker from Belgium visited the farm and filmed for several days.That producer ended up knowing the producers behind the latest show, who were looking for five farmers from around the world.

Bonjean and his sister, Amber, were both recommended for the show, but her Flemish wasn't quite good enough for television, so he was chosen.

"It is about farmers looking for a significant other," he told the Calgary Eyeopener. "It's not set up like The Bachelor where they're expecting you to get married at the end, but it is to give the opportunity of meeting someone from back home."

Bjorn Bonjean is the head winemaker at Spirit Hills Honey Winery, a family farm-based operation in Millarville, Alta. (Submitted by Hugo Bonjean)

The name of the show roughly translates from Flemish to "Farmer Looking for a Woman," said Bonjean.

"Obviously I am, I wouldn't be on the show if I wasn't," he said.

Filming on the show actually happened earlier this year.

"Basically they came here, they did a little intro episode about me, what I do, everything like that," said Bonjean. "Then they aired that in Belgium, basically saying, 'if you're interested in him, write in a letter, send some photos and when he comes to Belgium … he'll get to read them and you might get the possibility to meet him."

Bonjean spent 10 days in Belgium in April, where he received roughly 200 letters and had to pick his Top 10.

"I basically had to play a little bit of live Tinder," he said.

From 10 to 5 to 3

He went on speed dates with the 10 women, spending a few minutes with each, then the group was narrowed down to five.

"After the five had been chosen I had to do a group date with all five of them, all at once," he said. "It kind of sounds like a dream but it's not. There was just a lot going on."

The group was again narrowed down, this time to three. The women travelled to Canada last month to get a taste of life on the Bonjean family farm.

"They came to the farm, they did some honey extraction with us, we made wine, we went and picked some berries, we had all sorts of fun," he said.

"I think I picked the girls who would fit mostly into the farm lifestyle."

Stresses of reality TV

And who he chose as the winner is a closely guarded secret.

"We'll have to see on the show," he said. "I enjoyed the process but it was really stressful, there was always a camera crew around for the entire time they were here. You don't really get to actually have that opportunity to get to know somebody because you don't really act like yourself, I find.

"It's not really scripted but, how many times you have to do the same thing over and over? Even though it was natural the first time, you may have to do it three or four times."

The show airs this fall in Belgium.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

now