The Tulalip Tribes have been working with Werkhoven Dairy farm to turn cow manure into sustainable energy.
Like so many dairy farmers, the Werkhovens felt the pinch in 2008 when milk prices plunged, hay prices rose and there was the ever-present issue of finding appropriate ways to dispose of waste. Right and left, dairies were going under — even those like the Werkhoven Dairy, which has operated for decades.
“I’m just glad my dad wasn’t around to see it,” Andy Werkhoven said. Sam Werkhoven, who started the dairy in 1959 with 25 cows, died several years ago.
When Daryl Williams of the Tulalip Tribes, strolled into their pasture one day with an idea on how to turn manure to money, Andy Werkhoven was ready to listen.
The Tulalips were interested because the Werkhoven Dairy is at the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers, the historic fishing area for the tribe.
Williams’ idea was forming a nonprofit group, Qualco Energy, and buying an anaerobic digester to turn manure to methane, which in turn, powers a generator that puts electricity on the grid.