Perspectives

From Gallipolis, Ohio – “The Farmsteaders” | POV | Monday, September 2 at 10 pm


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Specific information about the Laurel Valley Creamery, located in Gallipolis, Ohio comes from their website (available here).

​When Betty and Fuzzy Cook moved from Boone County, WV, onto the 110 acre farm on a dirt road in Cora, OH, back in 1947, they started a lasting adventure. They raised four children, milked cows, and raised the food for both the cows and the family.

Their children and then grandchildren (including Nick Nolan) continued to work on the farm with Betty and Fuzzy for decades. Fuzzy passed away in 1994 and the farm began a gradual decline. In 2001, Nick and his wife Celeste moved back to tend the farm and raise their children.

After hobby farming for a few year, Nick’s engineering position at a food conglomerate was eliminated and the dairy farm was up and running full time once more.

“People don’t really understand the beauty of life if they don’t understand the tragic side of it,” Nick says.

​With the dairy farm came milk, which led to cheese, which led to converting an existing pole barn to a state licensed cheese making facility and a future for our family farm.

Farmsteaders is a love story, a farm story, and a story of contemporary rural America. Nick Nolan, his wife Celeste, and their young family are on a journey to resurrect his grandfather’s dairy farm – fighting to keep this homeland from “drying up and blowing away,” something that has happened to about 4.7 million farms in the U.S. as the pressures of corporate-driven food have left deep scars in the region.

“People don’t really understand the beauty of life if they don’t understand the tragic side of it,” Nick says. “Everything beautiful is created out of pain.” Nick and Celeste’s meditations on life, legacy, and resistance offer an unexpected voice at a time when the country is so deeply divided. With much of the current rift falling along demographic lines, there is a deepening discussion about the rural white American. And yet here they stand in contrast to all of our expectations – heroic, benign, accessible.

Farmsteaders points an honest and tender lens at the beauty and hardship of everyday life, as the Nolans work to balance their fears and hopes with so much at stake. For the Nolans only three things remain certain: family is everything, nothing ever stays the same, and the land holds it all together.