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emmanuel baptist church

Church community garden reaps what it sows

By Joanne Beck
Girl with veggies

Sometimes you might wonder if all the grunt work of digging, planting, watering and weeding is worth it for some seasonal vegetables. 

Well folks at Emmanuel Baptist Church know the answer at their community garden. It’s a resounding yes.

“We have zucchini coming up, and also tomatoes, peppers, radishes, herbs, beans, and much more!,” Rev. Tom Tharp said Tuesday, sending photos as proof of the bounty. “The planters are full and flourishing!”

Emmanuel garden in Batavia

The property in back of the Oak Street church had a much different, albeit promising, look, with rows of empty wooden boxes awaiting their soil and seedlings at the end of May.

Tom Thorp in May

Tharp was busily mixing coconut chips and water with soil to deposit into the boxes for what he was hoping would be a rich harvest just a few months later. 

The church membership initially built a community garden to help feed homeless people that were being housed in nearby hotels, before those places were shut down. 

But then, as Tharp explained in May, “we still thought that there was a need, that the community is nearby the neighborhood, especially down Gateway, Noonan, Oak Street, that people might want to partake of growing their own food, and we might meet some of the additional costs that are coming up, over and over, at the grocery stores.”

A grant and donations of goods and volunteer time made it possible to purchase or otherwise have 20 garden plots, soil for planting, a 1,000-gallon water tank, donated by Norton Dairy, assorted vegetable seeds, and tools for people to use. 

Tharp then put the word out that plots were available for purchase to those that weren’t able to fill a garden plot themselves. Anyone, even with the slightest bit of green thumb, was invited to participate. 

And now they’re reaping the fruits — or veggies — of their labor. 

Emmanuel garden
Emmanuel community garden

Nine garden plots await interested green thumbs at Emmanuel's community garden

By Joanne Beck
Tom tharp planting in community garden
The Rev. Tom Tharp planting roma tomato plants in the community garden at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Batavia. Photo by Joanne Beck.

As Memorial Day weekend was creeping closer on Friday, Rev. Tom Tharp was already getting his fill of fresh air and sunshine.

No, he wasn’t prepping the grill for a weekend barbecue or mowing the grass to host picnic guests. Rather, Tharp, leader of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Batavia, was up to his elbows in coconut chips, mixing them with water to combine with soil for garden plots behind the Oak Street church.

What prompted the church to build its own community garden?
“We were building it because they were housing all of the homeless population in the town of these two hotels over here. But then that didn't really work out. The hotels were condemned and shut down … but we still thought that there was a need, that the community is nearby the neighborhood, especially down Gateway, Noonan, etc., Oak Street, that people might want to partake of growing their own food,” Tharp said. “And we might meet some of the additional costs that are coming up, over and over, at the grocery stores. It's not like we can provide eggs, though. But the good thing, the price of those has gone down.”

emmanuel garden
Rev. Tom Tharp dispenses water from a 1,000 gallon water tank at the garden to mix with coconut chips. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Thanks to a grant and donations of goods and volunteer time, there are 20 garden plots, soil for planting, a 1,000-gallon water tank, donated by Norton Dairy, assorted vegetable seeds, and tools for people to use. The garden is protected by a locked fence, and anyone who buys a plot will receive a key for 24/7 access.

There wasn’t going to be a charge for those that filled a garden plot themselves. However, no one showed up Friday to do that, Tharp said, so he was spending his Friday filling the boxes and testing his own green thumb abilities (he claimed not to have any) by putting in roma tomato plants for a couple of his wife’s plots.

Tom Tharp with community garden
Photo by Joanne Beck.

People have so far reserved 11 plots, which means that nine remain available for purchase. They are $20 each. Everything is included, such as seeds for tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peas, different kinds of peppers and other veggies, water, soil and a periodic lesson on gardening how-tos.

“At least you'd be able to get enough for a family, if you have the means of, you know, freezing the stuff and then keeping it for a while. I am not a natural gardener. So I don't know exactly how much we'll get out of this," he said. "We have some people from the church coming out who are going to be planting, and some people in the church who are just donating plants from their gardens to put in. And if we have stuff that doesn't get used, it will go to a local food pantry."

emmanuel comunity garden plots
Photo by Joanne Beck.

There’s certainly plenty of space for the garden, with about six acres behind the church. Parishioners — church membership is about 45 people — at one point wanted to revamp the softball field so they could begin a softball league during COVID.

The church received a grant, and there was interest, but, because it was COVID — they couldn’t get any contractors to do the work, Tharp said. So they had to return the grant and moved on to another project. “It would have been nice,” he said. “We’ve got the space, and we want to use it.”

For now, though, there is the community garden, and anyone may participate.

“If you have even the slightest bit of green thumb, you can come out and pretty much grow your own vegetables for free here,” Tharp said. "We've got everything that you need to get started. And we'd love to have you."

 For more information, or to reserve your plot, call 585-343-4905.

Avid gardeners wanted for Emmanuel Baptist's community garden, debuts Friday

By Joanne Beck
emmanuel baptist church batavia
Emmanuel Baptist Church in Batavia, from church website.
There are several plots available at the Emmanuel Baptist Church Community Garden, Rev. Tom Tharp says. 
"Our 20-plot project has been fully built and is ready to be planted," Tharp said. "We can't wait to see the plants coming up! The garden still has several plots available for erstwhile gardeners.  Come out Friday, May 26 from 10-2 to fill your plot, get a key, and plant your first seeds of the season."
Those enthusiastic green thumbs who come out and fill up their own plots will get the space free for the season, he said. 
Check out the garden from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Emmanuel Baptist Church, 190 Oak St., Batavia.
 For more information, or to reserve your plot, call 585-343-4905.

Emmanuel Baptist Church announces new community garden

By Press Release

Press release:

Calling all green thumbs and community builders! Emmanuel Baptist Church is seeking volunteers to help build and farm our brand-new community garden in the field behind the church at 190 Oak Street in Batavia.

Our garden will feature 20 spacious 4x3 plots, which, once constructed and fenced, will be transformed into thriving vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens. We may add larger plots if there is a desire for them. But we can't do it alone - we need your help to build garden beds, plant seeds, tend to plants, and harvest the fruits of your labor. (Each person who signs up for a plot gets to plant, maintain and harvest from their own plot!) If you help build the garden, you get to farm a plot for free for a season. Otherwise they will be 20 dollars a plot.

Being a gardener at our community garden is more than just a chance to get your hands dirty. It's an opportunity to connect with fellow garden enthusiasts, learn new skills, and contribute to a project that will benefit the entire community.

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a complete beginner, you can grow veggies or flowers and grow yourself as well! Our team will provide all the necessary tools and seeds. There will be water barrels with watering cans available as well. So if you're looking for a place to get your garden growing while enjoying the great outdoors, come join us at Emmanuel Baptist Church's Community Garden. Together, we can create something truly special.

There will be an informational meeting held Wednesday, March 29th at Emmanuel Baptist Church at 6 p.m. for those interested in helping or renting a plot. For more information or to volunteer, please call 585 343 4905 or email [email protected]

City planners approve Quicklee's site plan, special use permit; construction to begin in September

By Mike Pettinella


The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night approved the site plan and special use permit application by Quicklee’s to renovate the former Bob Evans Restaurant at 204 Oak St. into a convenience store/fuel station with drive-thru restaurant.

Following a 10-minute discussion that focused on proper signage and traffic flow, the committee unanimously approved both referrals – giving the go-ahead on the site plan contingent upon developers adding “signage to direct vehicles going into the drive-thru from blocking the exit between the canopy and the building so they can exit out onto Noonan Drive.”

The special use permit allows Quicklee’s to operate as a convenience store and quick-service restaurant.

Patricia Bittar, director of land development projects at WM Schutt Associates, and Lou Terragnoli, director of real estate for Quicklee’s, appeared before the PDC at the City Centre Council Board Room in anticipation of gaining final approvals for the project, which was introduced (and reported first on The Batavian) in late April.

Plans call for the reuse of the 3,771-square-foot restaurant and involves construction of a four-pump fuel station island with canopy and underground fuel storage tanks. The convenience store with retail fuel sales will take up about two-thirds of the space, with the drive-through restaurant – Quicklee’s is in negotiations with Tim Hortons – using the remaining space.

Last month, the PDC conducted an environmental review, which showed no adverse effects, but held off on approving the site plan or special use permits until the applicant provided details on traffic flow patterns, including an updated study by the New York State Department of Transportation.

Also, in June, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved area variances that permit the business to be within 500 feet of a church (Emmanuel Baptist at 190 Oak St. (corner of Noonan Drive) and to have 40 parking spaces instead of the required 68.

Questions from the PDC last night focused on signage on Noonan Drive to ensure that motorists are informed of the proper way to access the location as members were concerned about the stacking of vehicles, especially near the fuel pump island.

The DOT traffic study submitted to the PDC calls for the removal of a proposed right-out driveway (onto Route 98) and that “all site access utilize the existing Noonan Drive roadway.” Additionally, the internal access driveway will remain that connects to the Super 8 Hotel parking lot behind the restaurant.

The study also indicated that during peak times of 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., the business is expected to generate an additional 79 entering/71 exiting vehicle trips, and 53 entering/55 exiting vehicle trips, respectively. Terragnoli said the site plan can accommodate stacking of up to 15 cars.

Terragnoli said renovations of the inside of the restaurant and construction of the fuel island will start in September, with completion by the end of the year. Currently, the Quicklee’s chain has 23 locations – mostly in Livingston and Monroe counties.

Photo at top: Architect's rendering of the new Quicklee's business at 204 Oak St.

Photos: Scattered and Gathered Day

By Robin Walters

On Sunday morning, the Emmanuel Baptist Church held their Scattered and Gathered day. Instead of having their morning church service, they scattered throughout the city and lent a hand to agencies and indiviiduals.

The agenices they lent a helping hand to were Community Action, All Babies Cherished, Cross Roads and Care-A-Van Ministries. One of the teams of volunteers offered to wash Care-A-Van Vehicles. They did an awesome job!


Emmanuel Baptist Church has adventures planned for Bible school July 25-29

By Victoria Gooch

Emmanuel Baptist Church in Batavia will hold Vacation Bible School (VBS) July 25-29.

This year's program is called "Sun Quest Rainforest." Participants follow Jesus on a life-changing adventure, a week full of excitement and new experiences for children ages 4 to 12. Adults are welcome, too!

Heidi Richmond is back for her second year as director of VBS, held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Registration is at 6 p.m.

“I love to see the kids' faces as we bring the word of God to them,” Richmond said.

Parable Falls Bible story, Rockin’ Rainforest assemblies, Toucan’s Tree-mendous crafts, Canopy café snacks and Jumpin’ Jungle games are the five different sections that the children will be going to to learn about Jesus and his disciples.

The children are divided into three groups -- the Amazing Anacondas, Funky Frogs and the Creepin’ Crocodiles. Throughout VBS the children will be learning songs to perform for parents and friends at 8:30 p.m.m Thursday, July 29, the close of VBS.

“Knowing if you bring just one kid closer to God then it makes the whole thing worth it,” Richmond said.

Nursery is also available for children younger than 4. They will also have the opportunity to hear stories and play games.

“If they will sit still for a story, they will hear a story, if all they want to do is play and jump around then that is fine, too,” Richmond said.

Every day the children have to learn a new memory verse and each day has a crazy theme, such as crazy hair day, backwards day and crazy sock day, just to name a few.

At the end of each night, everyone joins together in the sanctuary to watch and listen to the ending skit, led by Pastor Dale Gooch. Each night the children are left with a cliffhanger. They need to come back the following night to find out what happens next.

“Every child has something different they enjoy but the skits are the overall favorite for everyone,” Richmond said.

Emmanuel Baptist Church’s congregation has helped a great deal with VBS. They have given craft supplies, helped build the scenery and served as group leaders during the program.

“It would not be possible without all the volunteers, we have over 30 volunteers,” Richmond said.

Each year VBS has a mission project. This year it is the Care-A-Van toiletry drive. Each child will be bringing in donations such as: Toothpaste; brushes/combs; shampoo and conditioner; deodorant; toilet paper; Kleenex; body wash/hand soap; socks; and underwear.

All these essential items go to needy families in the area. Care-A-Van ministries are headed by Paul and Bridget Ohlson.

Care-A-Van is an outreach program that helps those in need around the city of Batavia. If you have ever seen a big red van or bus driving around Batavia, then you have seen Care-A-Van.

VBS is an opportunity for children to meet new people, get new experiences and learn about God. Come down to Emmanuel Baptist Church and see what it is all about.

The church is located at 190 Oak St. in Batavia. For any questions or information about the program, please call 343-4905.

Steak supper for under a sawbuck!

By Philip Anselmo

Emmanuel Baptist Church will be holding their annual "Swiss Steak Supper" Saturday, September 20, from 5:00 to 7:00pm at the church, 190 Oak St. In addition to the juicy steaks, diners can expect real mashed potatoes and a homemade dessert. It's only $8.50 per adult and $4.50 per child 6-12—kids 5 and under eat for free. Call (585) 219-4855 or 343-4905 to make your reservations today.

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