Here They Purple

Former 49ers star Dan Bunz and his wife open a lavender farm and bring some major flower power to Lincoln

Former NFL star Dan Bunz and his wife Liz at their Bywater Hollow Lavender Farm in Lincoln

Former NFL star Dan Bunz and his wife Liz at their Bywater Hollow Lavender Farm in Lincoln

Photo by Max Whittaker

When two-time Super Bowl champ Dan Bunz bought up 13.5 acres in Lincoln in 1987 with the hope of creating a rural haven for his family, the land was a far cry from the manicured gridiron where the Roseville native dominated for eight years with the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions. “It was just a cow pasture,” Bunz says. “No house, no pond—just sticker bushes and a swamp.”

After decades spent building their home and trying to figure out the best use for their green acres, inspiration struck in 2011 when Dan and his wife Liz admired the famous lavender fields in Provence while on a wedding anniversary trip to France. “After that, she said, ‘Honey, I want to plant lavender,’ ” Dan says. In the years that followed, they prepared the soil, attended educational seminars, and began the back-breaking task of planting five varieties of the fragrant perennial, from Grosso, which is often used to scent perfume, to Buena Vista, an edible flower. “My wife is the CEO. I’m the laborer,” Dan quips.

And now, as the Bunz family prepares to open Bywater Hollow Lavender Farm (which will include a small shop on the premises offering handmade, all-natural lavender soaps, balms and lotions) in June, Dan’s field of dreams is about to become reality. “This is my refuge,” he says. “People can come and pick [flowers] and sit and hang out.” In other words, he built it, and hopefully they will come. 

Bywater Hollow opens June 20. 5950 Mt. Vernon Rd. Lincoln. bunzlavender.com