Sarah and Ryan McCarthey, owners of Dungeness Valley Creamery, have been named the 2019 Farmers of the Year by the North Olympic Land Trust. (North Olympic Land Trust)

Sarah and Ryan McCarthey, owners of Dungeness Valley Creamery, have been named the 2019 Farmers of the Year by the North Olympic Land Trust. (North Olympic Land Trust)

North Olympic Land Trust names Farmers of the Year

Sarah and Ryan McCarthey, owners of Dungeness Valley Creamery, to be honored

SEQUIM — The North Olympic Land Trust has named Sarah and Ryan McCarthey, owners of Dungeness Valley Creamery, the 2019 Farmers of the Year.

The creamery owners will be honored at the 20th annual Harvest Dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Sunland Golf & Country Club, 109 Hilltop Drive in Sequim.

The $125 tickets were going quickly last month and none will be sold at the door. To inquire about tickets, call 360-417-1815, ext. 4.

“North Olympic Land Trust is ecstatic to recognize Sarah, Ryan, and the whole team at Dungeness Valley Creamery for their commitment to environmental sustainability, land stewardship, animal comfort, and their entrepreneurial drive to create a viable farm business,” said Tom Sanford, land trust executive director.

Jeff and Debbie Brown built the original Sequim dairy farm in 1992. In 2006, the dairy was re-branded the Dungeness Valley Creamery and began selling raw milk products.

With the leadership of Friends of the Fields, a group of farmland advocates that have since merged with the land trust, a conservation easement was put in place with the family in 2008.

Sarah and Ryan McCarthey, the Browns’ daughter and son-in-law, took over ownership of the farm at 1915 Towne Road in 2012.

“Having the easement has helped us focus on sustainability for the future,” Ryan McCarthey said. “It’s a different type of business than it would be otherwise.

“We measure success differently. And we’re in an area that rewards that,” he added.

“I think there is a lot of synergy toward preservation.”

The state’s largest and longest-running raw milk dairy, the Dungeness Valley Creamery is on 38 acres of preserved farmland east of the Dungeness River.

The McCartheys say on their website that they pride themselves on running a clean farm and they made more improvements in light of two voluntary recalls of their products earlier this year, in April and in June, after the state Department of Health reported that Escherichia coli (E. coli) was found in samples of the farm’s product.

The McCartheys have invested heavily in reducing the environmental impact of the dairy, the land trust said in a press release.

The land trust pointed to the use of an array of 72 solar panels, LED lighting and the retrofitting of most of the electric motors to cut power consumption.

A specialized system uses waste heat produced by refrigeration units to heat water for the barn, the land trust said.

The creamery installed an automated manure flush system. Reclaimed water from production and processing is used in the flush, with the resulting waste separated on site.

Manure solids are sold to other local farmers, while liquid manure waste is recycled back into the soil to maintain the health of the pasture.

“It’s a lot of fun for us to find projects and run things differently,” Ryan McCarthey said. “We have a long-term goal of net zero energy consumption.”

The farm distributes raw milk products to more than 70 Western Washington locations.

It is on the tour that is an annual celebration of Clallam County farms and the McCartheys also participate in 4H programs and provide free tours to groups of preschoolers, as well as operating a farm store.

During the warm months, the farm’s 75 cows — each one named and registered with the American Jersey Cattle Association — have free roaming access to pasture land. Barn stalls have memory foam “pasture mats” that mimic the feel of lying on natural ground, the land trust said.

“The cows just love the mats,” said Sarah McCarthey as she indicated a full row of free-to-roam cows who had opted to lie on the pads.

Cows also have access to a rotary grooming brush. They are milked twice a day, at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Low levels of animal stress have allowed the McCartheys to see an increase in the lifespan of their pampered cows, the land trust said, adding that the average dairy cow lives about five years, while the creamery matriarch is 14 years old.

“We all want to do something that we love, and that’s what we do,” said Ryan McCarthey. “We enjoy the challenge of reducing our farm’s environmental impact while strengthening the perception of the dairy industry within our community.”

The annual award has been presented since 1999. Last year’s award went to Scott Chichester, owner of Chi’s Farm. Others include, but aren’t limited to, farmers such as Doug Hendrickson and Lee Norton (Salt Creek Farm), Nash Huber (Nash’s Organic Produce), Tom and Holly Clark (Clark Farms), and Steve Johnson (Lazy J Tree Farm), as well as individuals such as Bob Caldwell and such organizations as WSU Clallam County Extension and the Clallam Conservation District.

For more about Dungeness Valley Creamery, see www.dungenessvalleycreamery.com.

For more information, visit northolympiclandtrust.org.

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