Many would call former NFL Star Jason Brown crazy for giving up his career for a dream, but he is convinced it was the right thing to do. The 31-year-old, who was once ranked one of the best players in the league and was offered a $35 million contract to play for the St. Louis Rams, gave it all up to start a farm near his home in North Carolina. He now spends his time growing sweet potatoes and distributing the crop among the poor.
When Brown first decided to make the move back to his home county of Louisburg, his agent told him that he was making the biggest mistake of his life. But he was convinced that this was the right thing to do. “I looked right back at him and I said, ‘No, I’m not. No, I’m not,’” Brown said.
“God revealed to me that he had something greater in store for me and that my family should move back to my home state of North Carolina and start a farm,” Brown wrote on his website. “This really caught us by surprise because we knew nothing about farming. Yet, out of obedience, we started looking for available farmland.”
Despite never have done farming work a day in his life, Brown ended up buying a 1,000-acre property. He and his wife Tay named it ‘Fruits First Farm’, making a promise that his people would receive the first fruits of whatever is produced from the land.
He then watched a ton of tutorials on YouTube, got a bunch of advice from local farmers, and started cultivating sweet potatoes and cucumbers on his plot. He put in years of work to restore the land to arable condition, and recently gave away his first successful crop – 100,000 pounds of sweet potatoes. “When you see them pop out of the ground, man, it’s the most beautiful thing you could ever see,” he said.
“It’s unusual for a grower to grow a crop just to give away,” remarked Rebecca Page, who organizes food collection for the needy. “What he is doing is unbelievable. The time, the effort, the work, the cost. And he gives it away.” Page organized about 200 people and 13 trucks to visit the fields last week, and hopes to have that many again next weekend. “When you’re in the middle of trying to organize something this big, there is some anxiety. We need a lot of help, but a lot of people are going to get food.”
Brown said that in spite of all his glorious football years, he has never felt more successful in life. “Not in a man’s standards, but in God’s eyes,” he said. And his next goal is to give away twice as much crop next year. “I can picture 500, 1000 people here gleaning the fields until noon and then having a celebration of the harvest with food and music. It would be a great celebration of fellowship,” he added.
“I can envision things. I look out over this farm and see such a blessing. This has been more than I could have ever imagined. I have been blessed more than I blessed others,” the former NFL star said.