Murray Brett and his son Nathan run DaySpring Farms, an 80-acre farm in Danielsville, Georgia that produces grain for restaurants, distilleries and breweries. A contemplative and family-oriented man, Murray is a strong believer in the values of hard work and camaraderie found through farming. This post is part of the “Know Your Farmer” series, which profiles farmers who collaborate with Epiphany Craft Malt. Check out our other posts to learn more about the people who grow the foundation of fermentation.
How did DaySpring farm begin?
My son Nathan wanted to make it in the music business industry in Nashville. He decided it wasn’t for him, came home, and was working for a large organic produce farm. And he said, “Dad, I’d like to do this for a living.”
I told him that we need to find some land to either rent or buy. About two months, maybe three months after looking for a good while, we found this piece of property that the owner had turned back over to the bank because he couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. So we made a low cash offer for it and started with produce. And we wound up planting a variety of wheat.
To start with, we were just doing whole wheat flour and didn’t really know much about what we were doing. The following year, a friend of ours that we were growing some wheat for loaned us some machinery, so we were able to produce graded flour that year and then started grinding corn. We built our own sifter and that put us into a market with bakeries and restaurants so that became our main focus and we moved away from produce.
What’s it like working with your son?
We’ve grown together tremendously as father and son and also friends. We bring different gifts and abilities to what we do. He has his own unique gifts and I have mine, and we work well together. We work better together than we did when we first started. We’ve experienced some hardship, but we don’t look at hardship as a bad thing — we’ve grown together through that difficulty.
Nathan started out perhaps a little more individualistic, a little more bent towards self-interest to start with, and now I see him as one of the most sacrificing and hardworking young men I know and have the privilege of being friends with. I’m grateful for that. I love him very much.
How did you get connected with Epiphany?
We’ve been selling wheat and corn to Creature Comforts and other breweries around Georgia for a number of years. We’ve built a really good friendship with them. And I think Creature Comforts this past year began to consider sourcing local stuff for all their beers, and they reached out to ask us if we would be interested in upping our quantity with you guys and with them.
How would your friends describe you?
Hard working. Honest. I’m an intense person. I’m a pretty intense thinker. I read in the evenings and the early mornings; I like reading history, and I read the Bible a lot. I read theology from the 1600s — I don’t read much modern theology.
I’m always thinking about the next thing, and that may be what I have to do today, tomorrow, the next day, the next week, next month, next year, next decade… always thinking ahead, not just about what to do, but how to make the relationships that I have with people, my friends, better.
By thinking and studying my past mistakes, I’ve found I’m more willing to make corrections now than maybe in the past. I’m in my 60s, you know, so I like to think that I’m more big-hearted, more gracious, more forgiving than ever before.
I understand that you have grandsons. Do you hope that one day they’ll continue with the farming practice?
Of course we do. Theodore, Nathan’s youngest, will be four in July, and Noah, his oldest, will be six in December. We get to see them everyday. They love to help in ways they can so far. They love the farm. It’s great to see his sons growing up with that kind of access to their family.
We want to pass on a strong work ethic and family values. The idea of caring for other people. Our society is pretty careless when it comes to other people by and large. We want to instill those values of building friendships and trust and care and cooperation and longevity.
It’s a good life, you know, and hard work. I’d love to see either of them or one of our other grandchildren take an interest in it someday.