Written by Edward Loupe
“When I grew up, the milk was in the fridge. That was the most I ever thought about it,” says Celeste Nolan, one of the subjects in Ohio University alum Shaena Mallett’s new detailed, intimate documentary, Farmsteaders.
The film captures the Nolan family - Celeste, Nick, and their children - who run a creamery which supplies fresh milk and cheese to a number of local Athens' businesses and the farmer’s market. Filmed over the course of five years, the film expresses not only the dedication and expertise of the Nolan family in their craft, but also how their strong bond as a family has allowed them to weather difficult times. “The people I count on are the ones here on this stage,” said Nick, gesturing to his family during the post-screening Q&A.
One such difficult time, was during the 2014 fire in uptown Athens. When a number of businesses closed, the Nolan’s suddenly lost a significant customer base. But they survived - milking cows and churning cheese - and welcomed those businesses when they returned. However, keeping in business is still a struggle. “There’s no living in commodity farming…They’re running the small people out of the business,” said Celeste.
The solution? To support local creameries by buying local milk and cheese. As for the Nolan’s themselves, “we milked the cows today,” said Celeste at the screening.