Meet Our Farmers

Jim and Andy Werkhoven

Jim and Andy Werkhoven are dairy farmers and members of Darigold, a farmer owned cooperative.

Together they manage the Werkhoven Dairy situated next to the Skykomish and Snoqualmie River confluence in Monroe, Washington, just 25 miles from Downtown Seattle.

The farm was started in 1959 by Sam Werkhoven. Jim and Andy have been co-managing the dairy since 1984, and Jim sits on the board of Darigold.  Andy’s nephew, Steve Werkhoven, has been an employee for 20 years and currently serves as Feed and Herd Health Manager. Andy’s children are also interested in returning to the home operation. The dairy originally began with 20 cows and 40 acres. Currently, they milk 1,000 cows on 700 acres of owned and leased land.

Environmental Stewardship

Werkhoven Dairy has consistently demonstrated leadership in environmental stewardship and the dairy industry’s involvement in the community, receiving the Elanco Award for Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability.

 The Werkhovens are also a part of the Sno/Sky Ag Alliance, which is made up of local dairy producers and a cattle farmer – all with property adjacent to the river. Ten years ago, these producers began working collaboratively with their neighbors – Northwest Chinook Recovery (an organization working to restore salmon habitat), and with the 3,500-member Native American Tulalip Tribes – to achieve a common goal of environmental preservation and sustainable agriculture.

Together, they formed Qualco, which, in the language of the Coast Salish people means “where two rivers come together.” Qualco Energy is a nonprofit entity that operates a DVO, Inc. anaerobic digester 1-½ miles from the Werkhoven Dairy. The anaerobic digester utilizes manure from the cows and co-digests pre-consumer food waste to make energy (enough to produce electricity for as many as 300 homes), thereby keeping the air and water clean, protecting salmon streams, keeping the dairy operating and creating Grade A compost.

What makes this project unique is the relationship between the Tulalip Tribes, salmon conservation, and the dairy and beef producers. The relationship works, because each partner has a common goal of managing natural resources in a sustainable manner. The fact that seemingly diverse groups can come together to realize mutual benefit while enhancing the environment for all underscores the value of this project.

Renewable Energy

Qualco Energy’s goal is to be a public demonstration center for renewable energy, recycling, state-of-the-art farming and salmon recovery. Its vision is to help start a national movement to turn animal manure and other food byproducts into a fuel source and it encourages others to consider what they can do in their own communities to benefit the air, water, fish and farmland.   

The Werkhoven Dairy regularly conducts open houses and tours of the digester, their farm and related facilities in an effort to bring an understanding of the project to their neighbors, to public officials and to fellow dairy farmers around the state.

Ultimately, Qualco Energy’s goal is to use food byproducts to create a significant amount of renewable energy, help farmers solve one of their most challenging issues – manure management – and most importantly, help save and restore many of the local waterways and fish and wildlife habitats.