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Did You Know? The History of Eddie Alberts Garden Plots




Who is Eddie Albert?

Eddie Albert was an American actor and activist. Movies including Roman Holiday (1954) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972) and TV show Green Acres (1965-71) gave him a platform to promote environmental causes such as international forestry concerns and promoting organic and eco-farming.


Why are the Community Gardens named after him?

Boy wearing a hat crotching down in Eddie Garden Plots with people working behind him.

The Eddie Albert Farm Program was a pilot program from 1972 when CPD’s Executive Director, Bob Toalson, contacted Albert for help. The purpose of providing recreational opportunities for Champaign residents to enjoy and learn about gardening, food production and environment protection.

For the children the main emphasis of the program lessons was to give them an awareness of nature and their environment. With these objectives in mind the program is organized into three areas: 1) gardening in individual plots for adults and children 2) special projects and learning experiences and 3) field trips and special events.Teenage boy sitting with a pile of produce he grew in the Eddie Albert Garden.

Albert visited with the children giving them hints and ideas about good garden growing and spoke to adults and children on the importance of gardening and farming to both the individual and the nation. Mr. Albert was in contact with the program staff throughout the summer as a model for similar projects throughout the nation.

Are you still running those programs?IMG_2079

The garden plots are now excellent rental plots. There are 124 spots, and each spot gets rented nearly every year. We even have locals whose own backyards are full of gardens, and they rent with us to plant more. Programs like 4-H and Farm Credit also use our plots. We take care of preseason tilling, and the rest relies on your gardeners thumb! (We’re still working on a guaranteed sun and rain schedule, but we haven’t figured out who is in charge of the weather requests yet.)


What do people grow?

A variety of vegetables, some fruits, and an abundant number of flowers give diversity to what you’ll see at the garden plots. Red tomatoes (and this year, lots of green!) mingle with pumpkins and squash. Sunflowers keep a watchful eye over the plants, and bright bursts of swiss chard, gerbera daisies and towering corn stalks.

What makes the garden plots so successful?

The community atmosphere is a large contributor to the gardening. You can chat with your neighbor about their tomato technique and what to do about rabbits nibbling your kale (we hear cayenne pepper does the trick!).

The community is typically very respectful that these are plots are rented, and that the goodies in them are not for the public. With simple posts and rope markers, the land is very open for viewing and chatting.

Where can I find out more?

Visit our website or call Bret Johnson at 217.398.2550.



  • Registration for those who had gardens in 2020 begins November 25.
  • New gardeners may enroll beginning December 9.


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