The name Dave Brandt may not mean much to some of you, but you’ve definitely seen him in memes. When we scroll through our feeds, whether at our desks when we’re supposed to be working or at home when we’re chilling, it’s easy to forget that the faces of viral meme formats belong to real people. Dave Brandt was certainly a person, and it’s with great regret that we report the farmer passed away on Sunday at the age of 76.
The Ohioan farmer became an Internet legend thanks to the popularity of the ‘But it’s honest work’ meme format, one of the most prolific formats of 2018. It’s been a mainstay ever since. The meme’s origin is an article posted by the United States Department of Agriculture, which featured a photograph of Brandt and the title “Soil Health Campaign Turns Two: Seeks to Unlock Benefits on- and off-the-Farm.” The context is a nod to the real reason Dave Brandt is a legend: his time pioneering and promoting No-Till farming methods.
His progressive farming methods and attention to soil health and conservation effectively changed the game of sustainable farming, making the use of cover crops (plants that are planted to help the soil instead of for harvesting) a more widely-accepted practice. His focus on soil health probably led to equipment companies’ adaption to such concerns.
As we’ve learned more about Brandt following his untimely demise, it’s become clear that this loss is a big one for humankind and not just the meme-appreciators. After years of working honestly, we hope he’s at peace.
We’ve put together some touching tributes to Brandt, as well as some of our favorites of the memes he inspired. RIP legend.