The property on South Second West Street, which occupies almost a block and has “no trespassing” signs, hides the story of early Rexburg settlers.
Nell Jean Harris, a 78-year-old woman, is the keeper of the garden. Her family moved to Rexburg over 80 years ago and her dad built their home. Harris’s dad built the old wooden house that looks more like a log cabin and is one of the attractions on the sight. Harris was born in the front room of the small house. Her parents had 11 children and the garden was a means to keep the family alive, providing food year-round.
Just like her childhood, Harris works in the garden every day. Today she grows fewer things, like corn, potatoes, tomatoes and raspberries. She remembers how they used to can food and store it in the cellar outside.
“I’m really not a gardener,” Harris said. “But, it’s my home, and it’s kind of fun to look at it after a day’s work.”
Harris’s family used to not only grow fruit and vegetables but also raise pigs and geese.
“There used to be an old barn across the street and my dad used to joke about neighbor kids making pig noises,” said Darling Nelson, the next door neighbor.
Being the youngest among the other three siblings that are still alive, Harris takes care of the garden the most. Her kids come and help her to keep the family tradition of gardening. The apple orchard is almost 100 years old and needs a lot of effort to keep the trees healthy so they continue to produce.
Harris used to live in Utah before moving back to Rexburg. She went back and forth from Utah to Idaho to garden at her home. She hopes her children can continue gardening.
“I’m just going to keep doing it, and when I check out, my kids are going to have to try to preserve it,” Harris said.
The garden didn’t always have “no trespassing” signs until Harris found some students swinging in the hammock in her backyard. She said she’s flattered by people’s interest in the garden, but wishes they would understand it’s somebody’s property and respect the work she puts into it.