David Brandt, the farmer behind the viral “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work” meme, died on Sunday from complications following a car accident in Urbana, Illinois. He was 76.
Brandt was a global leader in no-till and cover crops farming, a method that reduces soil erosion and improves soil health. He ran a 736-acre farm in Carroll, Ohio, that had been in his family for generations. He also owned Walnut Creek Seeds, a cover crop seed company that he operated with his son, daughter-in-law and grandson.
Brandt was a Vietnam veteran who returned home to farm in the late 1960s. He adopted no-till farming as a way to save costs and increase productivity. He traveled the world to speak about his farming practices and hosted visitors from around the globe who wanted to learn from him.
Brandt became an internet sensation in 2012 when a photo of him taken at a Natural Resources Conservation Service event on his farm was turned into a meme with the caption “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.” The meme became a symbol of humble pride and hard work.
Brandt embraced the meme and used it to promote his farm and his philosophy. He once said in an interview: “I think it’s great. It shows what we do as farmers. We’re not out here to make a killing. We’re out here to make a living.”
Brandt is survived by his three children and seven grandchildren. His wife, Kendra, died in 2020.
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