Dave Brandt was a farmer and conservationist who helped educate the agriculture community about soil health and no-till farming. He later became an internet meme known for the saying, “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.”
Dave Brandt’s legacy
Before Brandt won the hearts of internet posters, he was helping popularize farming methods that focused on maintaining and conserving healthy soil. Raised on a family farm, he began agricultural work at a young age. His work was briefly interrupted when he was drafted to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Vietnam War, where he earned a Purple Heart. Upon returning to the U.S., he went back to the fields.
In the 1970s, Brandt began to experiment with no-till farming, a method by which crops are planted and rotated without overturning the soil. He also started using cover crops – smaller plants used between main crops to reduce weeds, invigorate the soil, decrease fertilizer usage, and increase yields. He soon garnered national attention in the agricultural community and earned multiple recognitions, such as being named a Master Farmer by Ohio Farmer Magazine and having the David Brandt Soil . Award instituted in his honor.
He would come to mainstream attention after having his photo taken for a 2012 Natural Resources Conservation Service event. The photo was posted online in 2014, and by 2018 it began to appear on websites like Reddit, with the caption, “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work.” For many, Brandt came to represent a folksy, positive view of taking pride in your work. Brandt himself enjoyed his internet celebrity.
“It ain’t much, but it’s honest work”—internet meme
Tributes to Dave Brandt
Full obituary: Ohio’s Country Journal