BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO)– A Brookings man is growing food, for a cause. 84-year-old Carl Madsen donates all the produce growing in his large garden to Feeding Brookings.

Carl Madsen has been gardening for most of his life.

“My earliest recollection, I was probably a preschooler yet, I used to help my grandpa plant pumpkins. I come from a large family, a family of nine, and we always had a large garden and us kids used to help with the hoeing and weeding and sometimes we hated it, sometimes we liked it,” said Madsen.

It’s a hobby that stuck with Madsen, even at 84 years old.

“I don’t play golf, I don’t do sports or anything, but I’m outside every day with this,” said Madsen.

With help from volunteers, he plants this 10 acre garden and donates all the produce to Feeding Brookings.

“I’ve got friends that have been doing it with me for a good many years and they’ll have a friend they will bring and some of the neighbors come down and join in for a while. It’s not easy finding good volunteers, but we’ve got them,” said Madsen.

“It goes to a really good cause. I get to see the opposite end of it as well, I volunteer when I’m in Brookings at Feeding Brookings, so I get to see the produce that he brings in to lots of needy and grateful people,” said Jill Dahl, volunteer.

Its mission is to make sure everyone has fresh food.

“Fresh produce is expensive and hard to handle and manage, you’ve got to refrigerate it and ship it and so forth and this way we can cut it right in the field and bring it right in and people get fresh vegetables and they seem to appreciate that,” said Madsen.

In the garden, Madsen grows a wide variety of produce, from cabbages and tomatoes to melons, potatoes and more.

“Well there’s a need there, and I like to do it, and I can do it,” said Madsen. “People that need it and people that appreciate it. Like I say they get a nice fresh cabbage, is a treat for them with all the other stuff they get in their boxes.”

At an age when most people would retire, Madsen is still out in the field working hard to feed the community.

“He’s a great guy, he’s got the biggest heart in South Dakota. He just loves helping out people,” said Lynn Dahl, volunteer.

“He is inspiring, he is the true hero of all of this. He’s the one that made the decision to donate this to Feeding Brookings, he’s the one who has a huge expense,” said Jill. “So he has a huge investment, not only of his heart, his labor, but also money.”

“It works out good, I can run my tractors and grow things and have something that someone needs,” said Madsen.

Even while facing health concerns, Madsen says he has no plans of retiring from the garden.

“As long as I’m around yet. I always say this is my last year, sore back and sore legs and tired and everything, it creeps up on you when you get old, but the good thing about being old, I didn’t die young,” he said.

Madsen does get support and help from Farmhouse Fraternity and Norms Greenhouse, but he is looking for more volunteers to help with the weeding and harvest throughout the summer. If you are interested in volunteering, you can email Jill Dahl at