“It’s not just a story about farming, but of standing up to live one’s life in accordance with one’s beliefs, no matter the sacrifice.”

– HUFFINGTON POST

 

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. 

 

VIDEO STILLS


HISTORY OF THE FARM

Edgar Cook (better known as Fuzzy) grew up in a coal town in the mountains of West Virginia. He dreamed of flatter land where he could farm and raise a family. While fighting as a soldier in WWII, he saved his money and made a life-changing decision: no more coal mines, no more working or fighting or wasting time for anyone else. He was ready to farm.

Edgar Cook, Nick's grandfather, sits with his children in a barn on the family farm. c. mid 1950s. 

Edgar Cook, Nick's grandfather, sits with his children in a barn on the family farm. c. mid 1950s. 

Betty and Fuzzy Cook were newly married and bought the family farm in 1947. It was perfect. Rolling hills, pasture, tillable ground and a small river, all on a quiet dirt road. It had been a working dairy farm since the mid 1800’s and wild before that. Fuzzy went on to milk cows for the rest of his life.

Along with other family members, Fuzzy and Betty’s grandson, Nick Nolan, grew up next door to the farm. He played and wandered the hills alone, and spent countless hours helping his grandfather. Nick dreamt about places far away from the dirt road and pastures. He became a food-manufacturing engineer, working for companies including Nabisco, making processed convenience foods.

In the fall of 1994, Fuzzy Cook died in a tragic farming accident. And with his death, the farm began a gradual decline. For Nick, coping with this loss changed everything. In 2001, Nick and his wife Celeste moved back to tend the farm and to raise their children. Together they rebuilt the infrastructure of the farm, bought a milking herd, and eventually built a sustainable, environmentally-conscious cheese making facility on their land. Currently, Nick and Celeste are putting everything they have into working the dairy farm and creamery full-time. 

This project intimately explores the beautiful moments of everyday family life and the struggle of a family farm forging a new path through a broken modern food system. 


IN GRATITUDE TO OUR THOSE WHO ARE MAKING THIS FILM POSSIBLE

Listed below is everyone who supported Farmsteaders during the Kickstarter campaign. The names will also appear in the credits at the end of the film. If you'd like to help us make this film, please let us know! Thank you!

Angie Grace

Chad A. Stevens

Mike Costello

Ryan Ford

Fifth Season Gardening Co.

New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.

Cameron Goodyear

Chrissy Utt

Keely Kernan

Michael Tedesco

Marissa Chenoweth

Casey Toth

Julie Thomson

Michael Harper

Megan Birk

Arie Frame

Kevin Fry

Christa Christian

Loren Holmes

Jordan Sperko

Emily Provenzano

Rhonda Wilkinson

Kelly Walsh

Spencer Kate Darling

Ariana Van den Akker

Grant Hackney

Local Roots Market & Cafe

Liz Lindsey

Lisa Brokaw

Julie PF

Catherine Carter

Susan DeLaurentis

Courtney Potter

Nina Pettry

Sam Owens

Laura Vaughn

Dale's Fried Pies

Maria Fearer

Shawn Seiler

Kristy List

Brett Marshall

Jana Strahan

Roger May

Robert Wholey

Kenneth Case-Cohen

Laura Martin

Bachtell/Tucker Family

Andrea Morales

Elyse Butler

Laurie Jurs

Wrenn Johnston

Alix Blair

Ashley Hoffman

Denise Mallett

Will Stapleton

Laura Ruel

Conor Patrick Hogan

Margo Blair

Holly Sweeney

Shey Zanotti

Michelle Elkevizth

Kate Medley

John C. Lyons

David K. Harper

Sara Belle Earle

Jeff Womack

Dani Hurst Brown

Jolie Simpkins

Bethany Mallett

Gunderson Homestead

 

Rachel Molenda

Joe Belle

Stacey Kerr

Loraine Wancata

Sommer Sobin

Lara Householder

Peter Hoffman

Susan Marie

Emily Hollida

Elena Rue

Katelyn Semon

Sarah VanTassel Pellatiro

Liz Borda

Bob & Rita Krasen

Rose Watson-Ormond

Lori Wallace

Kent Rand

Anita Gage

Hannah Barefoot

Jay Heinz

Tamara L Mitchell

Scott Strazzante

Kathlene Boone

Eric Miller

Eileen Mignoni

Elizabeth Ladzinski

Catrina Otonoga

Peter Rock

Nate Lotze

Samantha King

Brenda Hewit

Desiree Hunter

Sandra Ester

Leslie Albanese

Raylene McCalman

Melissa Pope

Dee Marie Rawlinson

Cassie & Stefan Mullins

Kendyl Meadows

Alyssa Hunter

Julia Dengate

Evalyn Cresencia

Christine Dutrow

Douglas Stuchel

Nick Fox

Charlene Newing

Andreas Lolopulos

Dan Youhon

Ashley Repp

Jenna Mallett

Maria Farinacci

Warren Johnston

Elizabeth Guthrie

Ryan Sperko

Geoff Hansen

Mark Bishop

Jen Kessler

Lauren Frohne

Manuela Marin Salcedo

Michele Molano

Kent Koester

Sandy Kasper

Kristen Polzien

Cornish Technologies

Andrew Carmichael

George Konstanzer and Jen

Bruce Mosher

Erin Baldwin

Connie Ebaugh

Kevin Dean

Carolynn Willett

 

Jen Lewis

Mona Jacobson

Jeff Morrison

Barbara E Gill

Josh Lev

David D Bair

James Wm Ball III

Celia Talbot Tobin

Kelsey Naylor

Ray Whitehouse

Kelly Brown

Carole Prevost

Meg Wilson

Lauri Grigg

Agnes Hapka

Katie Englert

Sarah Brooks

Julia Marino

Libby March

Don E Willey

Mark Cross

Rob Mattson

Dillon Deaton

Emily Rhyne

Morgan Noelle Smith

Rachel Hazlett

Kim Calhoun

Diane Cook

Kyla

Erik jacobs

Jane Boyd

Gabriela Filasky Arp

Hannah Stewart

Molly Parks

Melissa Williams

Bob Sacha

Jessie Gladdek

Heather Tornes

Kelly Creedon

Dinah Alice Berkeley

Eric Osborne

Theo Stroomer

Mark and Carol Hewitt

Marianne Carter-Maschal

Alicia Nicholson

Vittles Films

Rob Boyer

Jennifer Gable

Megan Dooley

Cam Robert

Rhys David Riddell

Lauren Budin

Amanda Eason

Sarah Green

Gregory Pruden

Trace Ramsey

Suzy Hines

Mary Azoy

Elizabeth List

Ian C. Bates

Kyla Basher

Sara Grayce

The Athens News

Modern Farmer

GRIT Magazine 

The Weston A. Price Foundation

Athens Farmers Market

In the Hills and the Hollows Documentary

Mother Nature Network