Daniel Bays, Bays Ranch

A California farming family

Alongside his father and grandfather, and with help from his mother and grandmother, Daniel Bays operates Bays Ranch, a 2,000-acre mix of tomatoes, almonds, apricots, walnuts, lima beans, cantaloupe melons and wheat on the west side of Stanislaus County in Westley, California. The Bays have been in the area since 1957 when the family moved to the Central Valley from Ventura. Today, Bays Ranch sends almonds, dried apricots and dried tomatoes to farmers’ markets in San Diego and to processors who turn fresh produce into brand name jams, sauces and even baby food.

How Bays Ranch is innovating

In response to California’s historic drought, Bays Ranch has implemented new solutions to get more beneficial use per drop of water. Nearly all their fields now have some type of drip or micro irrigation thanks to large-scale investments in pumps, filters, pipes and drip hoses to allow water to be distributed more efficiently. Daniel Bays says his father and grandfather have always been relatively progressive in how they farm. They started using sprinkler systems in their orchards in the 1970s, and have continually adopted and embraced technology as it has evolved.

Beyond water use efficiency, Bays Ranch has adopted other techniques over the years to improve sustainability. Owl boxes are used for rodent control and pruned orchard tree clippings are no longer burned but chipped into mulch that is put right back onto the orchard floor.

Pride in helping the community

Despite the early mornings and late nights, Daniel Bays says he always knew he wanted to be part of the family business. The challenge of solving day-to-day problems on the farm requires him to wear many different hats – mechanic, ergonomist, accountant, engineer, manual laborer – but it’s the pride he feels for doing something that matters to others that fuels his passion for farming. “The feeling of harvesting a crop and knowing that it’s ultimately being sent off to end up on someone’s kitchen table for a meal that they can enjoy is a pretty good feeling,” he says.

There is farming in all 50 states, but in no other state in the U.S., and very few countries, are you able to produce such a wide array of things to eat in such a small area. Where else can you go get avocados or citrus or almonds or walnuts or tomatoes or bell peppers or lettuce that was grown just a few hours away from the grocery store?
— Daniel Bays