Placer family opens beloved local lavender farm

By: Gold Country Media
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Bywater Lavender Farm

  • You can meet all the Bunz family members, including “Grandma Jo” and the granddaughters, during the farm’s lavender bloom season. Opening weekend last Saturday.
  • Bywater Hollow remains open each weekend during the bloom season, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through July 1. 
  • In their shop, Dan and Liz Bunz sell various homegrown and handmade lavender products as well as items from other lavender-loving vendors.

When it comes to community engagement and entrepreneurial spirit, one Placer County couple  is known for an abundance of both.  Dan and Liz Bunz’s entrepreneurial spirit and well-known businesses spans more than 30 years in this area.

Last weekend, the dynamic duo once again opened the gates to their Bywater Lavender Farm in nearby Lincoln. Located a short drive from Rocklin to 5950 Mount Vernon Road in Lincoln, this local gem of a farm is a labor of love for the entire Bunz family that has a great history in Placer County.

Dan Bunz, a Roseville native, is best known as a former San Francisco 49er and two-time Super Bowl Champion. His eight-year career in the NFL began in 1978, when he was drafted in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers. He was the 49ers Rookie of the Year in 1978, and played a pivotal role in the 49ers’ wins in Super Bowls XVI and XIX.

Dan’s game-saving tackle of Bengal running back Charles Alexander in Super Bowl XVI is known to most 49er fans as simply “The Stop” and to this day is listed as one of the top ten tackles in Super Bowl History.
While fans still reminisce about that incredible play, hometown community members celebrate Dan and his wife, Liz, for bringing that winning attitude home and putting it to work for the local economy.

Longtime Placer County residents will remember that the 49ers hosted their summer training camps at Sierra College’s campus in Rocklin. But, what most don’t know is that Dan was actually instrumental in bringing the team here that first summer of 1981.

“It’s the facility where I did a lot of my training and preparations in the off-seasons. It had everything we needed, and selfishly, I wanted to be closer to home,” he said. “So I pushed hard for it. The guys were a little bit upset with me that first summer, though, because of how hot it gets here as opposed to Bay Area weather so I had to buy all the beers during training camp. But we won the Super Bowl that season.”

Happy with their results, the 49ers stuck with Sierra College as their summer training location for 16 years after that, which brought a great deal of media coverage and tourism dollars to the area during that time.

Dan would later return to Sierra College as head football coach, starting in 1987.  From there, he also coached at Sacramento State University and Hiram Johnson High School. Skipping forward many years, Dan kept his love for coaching alive.

When both of his daughters were in high school, Dan went on to open a personal training business in Rocklin with a focus on optimizing athletic performance for all ages and sports specific training. He enjoyed working with the athletes to help them take their game to the next level. That included his daughter, Courtney, who went on to play Division 1 college basketball and his now son-in-law, Josh, who played Division 1 college baseball and went on to play in the Minor League.

Dan’s very first local business, however, was even closer to home. In 1984, while still playing, he built and opened Bunz & Company, a sports bar and restaurant in Roseville. As a successful NFL player, Dan could have chosen just about any type of business but chose Roseville.

“In my life, I have seen that nothing brings people together like good food, a cold drink and a great game. No matter age, race, gender, or the side of the tracks you’re from,” Dan said, “everyone can come together over those things. It was home. It’s where I grew up. It’s always been important to me to give back to my community.”

“Dad and mom were big on teaching us about work and letting us play a role. I think I was about 5 when he allowed my sister and me to wait tables for the first time. We loved it,” said Courtney, “I also remember many of the waiters and waitresses so clearly, like it was yesterday.”

Dan’s wife, Liz, brought additional recognition to the Bunz family name in her role as Dr. Elizabeth Roullier-Bunz, D.D.S.

“I’ve been asked many times, ‘why the hyphenated name?’” Lizn said. “I was of course going to take my married name but I am also so proud of the family I come from that when it came down to it, I just couldn’t part with my maiden name.”

The Roulliers moved from a small country village in England to Midas Avenue in Rocklin. When they moved to Placer County, Rocklin’s population was just 1,100. Liz’s dad, Sidney, was also the first president of the Rocklin Chamber of Commerce.

So it’s no surprise that Liz chose a location right on Rocklin Road where she opened her dental practice in 1986.  She was a popular dentist in the area who is truly loved by her long-time, multi-generational patients.  Liz retired from dental practice in May 2014 and has since been working full-time on the family’s lavender farm business.

“Mom was an awesome dentist and employer, and she took those roles very seriously ... as one should... so it’s been fun to watch her in a more light-hearted role as ‘Liz the Lavender Lady,’” said daughter, Ashley.
Right alongside his wife, Dan can also be found hard at work on their family lavender farm when he’s not doing one of his other jobs: teaching physical education and adaptive physical education, working as an alumni coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers during football season or working in partnership with his daughter, Courtney, on their health and nutrition coaching business.

The Bunz family certainly doesn’t shy away from manual labor.  Family is clearly important to the Bunz clan. Not only do they all work together, they all live within about a quarter of a mile of each other. Ashley and Spencer and Courtney and Josh bought neighboring properties that are just down the road and across the street from the family lavender farm.

“With ‘Grandma Jo’ (Liz’s mother) living on our property and the three grand-babies living across the street, we have four generations all close by and we love it,” Dan said. “We feel so blessed.”