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Man behind ‘honest work’ meme killed in car crash

Jess Hardiman

| Last updated 

The Ohio farmer behind the ‘honest work’ meme has sadly died after being involved in a car crash.

David Brandt, 76, was a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, who turned to no-till farming in 1971 with wife Kendra.

According to the Associated Press, he died on Sunday 21 May after being injured in a vehicle crash in Urbana, Illinois, three days before.

Brandt became well known across the US thanks to his advocacy for no-till farming - an agricultural technique for growing crops without disturbing soil through tillage – as he travelled across the country to talk about sustainable approaches to agriculture and soil health.


However, he shot to viral fame after the comments he made at a 2012 Natural Resources Conservation Service event held on his farm.

David Brandt. Credit: NBC/Randall Reeder
David Brandt. Credit: NBC/Randall Reeder

While talking about his job, he said: “It ain’t much but its honest work.”

The simple line soon became a symbol of the industry’s traditional values, and the work ethic of many farmers.


It even ended up being turned into a popular meme, which KnowYourMeme says first surfaced in 2018 on Reddit.

“On October 10th, 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture posted an article entitled ‘Soil Health Campaign Turns Two: Seeks to Unlock Benefits on- and off-the-Farm.,” the site explains.

“The article features a photograph of Ohio farmer and ‘soil health pioneer’ David Brandt.

“Four years later, on December 15th, 2018, Redditor pettergra posted the image in the /r/MemeEconomy subreddit, adding the text, ‘It ain't much but it's honest work.’


“They captioned the image, ‘When you post OC and get 10 upvotes instead of reposting for thousands.’ The post received more than 18,000 points (85% upvoted) and 130 comments in three weeks.”

David Brandt was the man behind the 'honest work' meme. Credit: KnowYourMeme
David Brandt was the man behind the 'honest work' meme. Credit: KnowYourMeme

Another Redditor later posted a variation, which moved the text to the bottom of the image.

“They added the caption ‘When your teacher asks you why you have submitted only one paper of 20 paper homework’,” KnowYourMeme continues.


“The post received more than 11,000 points (97% upvoted) in 24 hours (shown below).”

The Associated Press reported that relatives have said Brandt ‘enjoyed’ the meme, even though he didn’t know what a meme was until he learned he actually was one – having only discovered his online fame when a bank teller who showed the image to him on her phone.

Randal Reeder told the Columbus Dispatch: “[Brandt] got a lot of joy after seeing (the meme), and seeing how it exploded all over! He didn't object to it at all.

“He was determined to educate farmers about the value of conservation agriculture, and how it would improve soil health."

Topics: US News

Jess Hardiman
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