Nikki Zupp grew up in Massillon, where her grandparents owned a nursery.

Naturally, every member of the family had a talent for gardening.

When Zupp and her parents moved to central Ohio, it was to a farm in Pataskala, so the young woman's connection to the land continued.

Then she moved to the Devonshire neighborhood in Northland. The comparatively small yard left her passion for gardening less than fulfilled.

Zupp once again will have plenty of opportunity for getting dirt under her fingernails as she works to transform a substantial portion of the 5.8-acre St. Andrew Presbyterian Church property on East Dublin-Granville Road into a community garden.

Last fall, Zupp agreed to take on the project for the Northland Alliance. She even handled applying for a Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Community Garden Academy grant through the Columbus Foundation.

"Someone found out I was big into gardening," Zupp said.

Jenny Lin, chairwoman of the Northland Alliance, contacted Zupp, who agreed to head the project on behalf of the nonprofit organization.

A big pile of bagged soil, mulch and other supplies sit on the church site, and Zupp said she has $881 toward developing the garden.

"I already have many people interested in renting the beds, so we have to get those built," Zupp said.

One of them is Northland Community Council President Alicia Ward, Lin said.

Another is Sandie Trask-Tyler, a neighbor of Zupp who learned about the community garden on the neighborhood social network NextDoor.

"I love gardening," Trask-Tyler said. "That's a passion of mine, and I think that would be great for our community."

"For me, it's always exciting making connections that make things happen," Lin wrote in an email. "Finding a new community member willing to head up a new project, as well as a community organization offering its resources, is really what the Northland Alliance is about: identifying needs and finding people to get them done.

"I believe both Nikki and I want to see it connect the community, as well as provide more access to healthy foods and education."

"I think as the word gets out and more people know about what's going on, more people will become involved," said Trask-Tyler, a 25-year resident of Devonshire.

The first step in creating the community garden is scheduled for Saturday, May 26, when Zupp said she and some friends plan to till the soil.

Community members may start getting involved in the community garden June 2, Zupp said. That is when the bed-building is supposed to take place, starting at 10 a.m.

Zupp said people who help build beds will receive a discount on renting plots, which will be 4 feet by 8 feet. Zupp said she still is considering how much to charge.

"It's a big plot of land," she said of the property allotted for the garden.

Zupp estimated the site could accommodate as many as 30 beds, but she plans to start with between 10 and 12.

More information is available by contacting Zupp at nikzup03@yahoo.com.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1