Fame and fortune isn’t everything, though it’s lure draws many young people to seek a future a long way from a sleepy town or farming. For Jason Brown, trading in NFL stardom for living off the land is the most natural thing in the world. His career change decision shocked pro-football. His agent thought he was making a huge mistake, but Brown wanted more from life. The game plan at Jason’s First Fruits Farm is anything but ordinary, and a far cry from lowly.
That’s what CBS news anchor, Steve Hartman uses to describe the former St. Louis linebacker… a lowly farmer. Obviously, popular society needs some schooling on perception, because growing food is anything but lowly. And in truth, the world could use a few more Farmer Browns like this one. The first 5 acres of any crop harvested off this farm is donated to people in need – not the excess – the first fruits of his labor.
Unlike famed urban farmer and retired pro athlete, Will Allen, who returned to his farming roots, Jason didn’t know a thing about farming. The draw for him was to do something with his life that had meaning, a reward worth more than being rich and famous. It puzzles a lot of people why someone would stop in the middle of a successful sports career and go in a totally different direction. Trade in being the power couple for working in dirt? Money isn’t everything. As he says, sure, they had a big fine house, an income that didn’t leave them wanting for anything, but that’s not rewarding, it didn’t give him the profound sense of accomplishment and success he needed.
So, instead of desperately seeking a new contract and hanging onto his status until the bottom dropped completely out, as happens with every pro athlete as they age, Jason walked off the field with years of potential left and left commentators and the movers and shakers in football shaking their heads. His attention now focused on a whole lot of acres to conquer, not yard lines. He learned how to farm on YouTube, and some wisdom gained from others in his new community. That was two years ago, and he has never regretted his decision, because to him, love is worth more than money. He feels by giving to those in need from the top of his crop, he is doing a great and loving kindness to his fellow man. His goal is feeding the hungry.
That’s a true hero. A superstar.
Of course, it might not have been possible without the kind of money he was making in the NFL. Even in Louisburg, North Carolina, an hour’s drive away from a city of size, 1000 acre farms aren’t dirt cheap, though they are less expensive this far from the center of Raliegh. However, investing the fruits of his first career into land is a wise decision, especially when it is fertile enough to produce crops. Being able to to grow enough food to feed your family is a blessing, but being able to grow sufficient food to turn into an income and give tens of thousands of pounds of each crop’s harvest to those who are less fortunate? This takes some serious acreage, a strong sense of conviction, and a huge heart. Lowly farmer, indeed.
Jason’s found his sense of success and accomplishment. His tractor isn’t new and shiny, it’s seen a few years under that intense Carolina sun. His house is 100 years old, and last week he delivered his newest child at home. It wasn’t willing to wait until the midwife arrived.
His first fruits are distributed with the help of several charity organizations in North Carolina, and while it’s probably not what he had envisioned, his endeavors continue to keep his name in the news nationwide. He only wanted a life with meaning, a career that served a greater purpose, and he found it. Soil is powerful stuff.
Learn more about Jason Brown’s work on his website: Wisdom For Life.