March 19 2019 09:54 AM

They created a garden behind a substance abuse recovery facility.

Bakersfield, California residents recovering from substance abuse will be able to enjoy a tranquil, healing refuge thanks to a group of landscape contractors. According to a story by Joseph Luiz posted on, the group of business competitors worked together to install a garden behind Bakersfield Recovery Services, donating their time and resources. The value of the garden and the services has an estimated value of around $20,000.

“I didn’t think there would be so many companies coming together for this,” said BRS Executive Director Eric Sanders. “The turnout is just amazing. I think what they’ve done is fantastic.”

The garden includes shrubs, flowers and small trees amidst gravel placed so that tables and chairs can be brought out to provide seating for clients.

John Lamar owns the land the recovery center sits on and leases it to BRS, a private, nonprofit organization. He first came up with the idea for the garden around a year ago. At that time, the area behind the facility was largely just weeds and was not very attractive. After spending some time with BRS as a volunteer, he had a vision to make the area more inviting for clients.

“They can have a space to have some peace and quiet,” he told Luiz. “It’s part of the healing process. Whatever it takes to get them healed, that’s what we need to do.”

Lamar mentioned his garden idea to Olga See, owner of O. See-em-Bloom Landscaping. See reached out to other area contractors that are members of the California Landscape Contractors Association to see if they would be interested in helping. “I thought it would be a great little project to enhance our community, to have this serenity garden where people can sit and meditate,” See told the reporter.

See was able to get several businesses to participate. However, it took several months to coordinate a time during the off-season when all the participants would be available. The time finally came. “The businesses have been wonderful,” she said. “Everyone’s been willing to help.”

With the garden largely completed, Sanders said clients from all of BRS’ facilities can begin spending time there. All of the other centers are a short distance from the facility with the garden, which serves as a hub for client/counselor meetings, board meetings and other activities.

Tom Pasek, president of the organization’s board of directors, told Luiz that he believes the garden will go a long way in assisting clients with their recovery efforts by providing a welcoming space where they can relax, reflect and meet with counselors or family members.

“What it really is, from my perspective, is a mission-fulfillment project,” Pasek is quoted as saying. “This is not just to make the area nice — it’s to lend something to our mission. Our clients, while they’re here, really need to feel a sense of hope.” He would eventually like to see gardens installed at some of BRS’ other facilities in the future, using this one as a model.