The Essence

Welcome to Mother Nature.... in her balanced world

For more than 20 years, Donna Bayliss has been a staunch advocate of organic and sustainable agriculture. Considered the matriarch of certified organic botanicals and their use in personal care and cosmetic products, she has been at the forefront in creating and adopting organic certifications, opening up new domestic and international markets for agricultural products and fostering cross-cultural/international cooperation.

In 1983, Bayliss assumed executive control over Bayliss Ranch, a financially struggling fourth-generation rice farm in Biggs, California. She transformed the operation into a thriving producer and exporter of rice and botanicals that is now an industry model for sustainable, organic agriculture.

The concept of using botanicals as substitutes for synthetic cosmetic ingredients occurred to Bayliss early in her tenure at Bayliss Ranch. One day, after using lavender oil on a wounded finger, she was surprised that her bruised fingernail returned to its clear, natural color. The effect was more than physical for her. She became determined to discover how to transform the botanical power of nature into a pure liquid essence.

However, that ambitious goal simmered while Bayliss reinvigorated the Ranch. The first priority was the cultivation of the Ranch's main crop: rice. Bayliss began commuting to Washington, D.C. in the hope of transforming market perception of rice as a basic bulk commodity to a specialty culinary ingredient. By redefining rice varietals and taking a proactive, media-savvy approach, she helped established a branch new, worldwide boutique marketplace.

Meanwhile, Donna was recalling a vision from decades ago. One morning, as she reflected over a warm California sunrise, she thought about aromatic, old world botanicals flourishing in the Mediterranean sun. "I wondered why we couldn't farm these beautiful crops here at Bayliss Ranch in a manner consistent with the Bayliss family's original organic farming methods," she recalled. "I wanted to provide the alternative of pure ingredients instead of synthetic cosmetic products." Intuition told Bayliss that farming organic botanicals was a valuable opportunity in a struggling agricultural economy. Organic lavender, the first crop planted, replaced an aging walnut orchard. Soon, her purple fields drew the attention of local farmers and passersby. Before long came Verbena, Rose Geranium, Thyme, Rosemary and Chamomile.

Within five years, Bayliss increased water conservation on the ranch by 90%. Her practices have served as a template for agricultural standards adopted in California, the US and around the World. Experience in Washington taught her that state and federal government action is key in establishing organic production standards and opening market opportunities. She championed the adoption of standards for botanical distillates and co-authored the California Organic Products Act.

"My goal in creating our Bayliss Essences was to capture the purity of the plant but also to have our methods validated by science to prove the purity," Bayliss said. "I wanted to do all of this in a way that benefitted the earth, to truly capture Mother Nature in her balanced world."

Additionally, Bayliss has worked tirelessly to advance cross-cultural tourism and economic cooperation. She has worked to open new markets and standardize agricultural certifications by collaborating with industry leaders, policy-makers, and scientists from France, Germany, Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, New Zealand, Mexico, Austria and Italy. While she worked with the European Union to create unified international organic product standards, she founded the International Distillation Standard Group, which sets product standards for organic hydrosols.

Bayliss is active in industry and cultural organizations, including the California Certified Organic Farmers, the World Distillers Group, the Personal Care Products Council and the California Rice Commission Domestic Marketing and Promotion Committee. She is also a member of Women of the Hemisphere and the Friends of First Ladies.

Step into The Gardens and bask in the timeless beauty of Mother Nature at Bayliss Ranch Circa 1865

We invite you to share every season with us at Bayliss Ranch.

Feel the spirit of the WINTER Holidays featuring crackling fires, rooms filled with seasonal essences and joyful carolers. Gather your family and friends for an old fashioned holiday get together.

Renew your soul in SPRING, bursting with the first blossoms, beckoning new beginnings. Watch the spring planting, walk among the lavender fields, and learn about organic practices on a real working farm.

Bask in the SUMMER air, rich with the scent of rose geranium, lavender, and lemon. Feel the cool nights and see the star drenched skies. Experience that perfect moment of calm.

Energize as FALL arrives. See the harvesting of floral and herbal essences. Pick a pumpkin! Stroll through the nearby fields, welcoming the rice harvest as the water fowl prepare to nestle into the winter sleep awaiting a new tomorrow.