Rock Farm Slane is a small farm-based organisation that believes that sustainable farming and environmentally-friendly business practice is the only way to conduct business in a world that will require greater adaptive capacity in the face of climate change and other environmental constraints.
The Rock Farm is located on the banks of the Boyne opposite Slane Castle, adjacent to a Special Area of Conservation, Architectural Conservation Area as well as a National Heritage Area. Farmers can be excellent custodians as they work with the flora and fauna on a daily basis. The aspiration of the Rock Farm team is to communicate the importance of environmentally-oriented custodianship to all visitors and to empower people to take care of the land and water around them.
With this in mind, Rock Farm Slane has eco-tourism at the heart of its business and is focussed on continually improving the environmental credentials of the business as well as its place in the local community.
The farm itself has undertaken a programme of environmental improvements to allow for the creation of an active sustainable farm. This includes the conversion of XX acres into organics, an agro-forestry programme on organic tillage, improved pasture management, organic horticulture and rare breeds. In terms of community and building adaptive capacity, the Rock Farm has undertaken a natural building project that includes a farm office, eco guesthouse, farm house and volunteers’ chalet to enable a sustainable long-term farming community to develop.
The other areas of focus with regards to the ecotourism programme on the farm include:
a) Energy reduction in Eco-buildings
i) Building all buildings out of straw, clay and lime.
ii) Reducing the demand for heat (and thus wood/fuel for burning) from all buildings thanks to the high insulating quality of straw
iii) Minimising the use of concrete/cement, asphalt, plastics and other energy and resource intensive materials
iv) Installing energy efficient lighting as well as high efficiency and renewable heating system
b) Reducing water consumption
i) Use new buildings and existing farm sheds to harvest rainwater
ii) Install grey water recycling in the main guest areas
c) Natural waste treatment
i) Re-using human foul waste on the farm significantly reducing risk and impacts on the local environment
ii) Installing an Integrated Constructed Wetland to provide a natural foul waste treatment system which commits us and our guests to using eco-friendly cleaning products, detergents and toiletries
d) Environmental farming and landscaping
i) Re-establishment of hedgerows – edible hedges (Forest Garden), bird hedges (Upper Lime)
ii) Hazel and willow coppice (Lower Barley and river area) to provide a sustainable supply of firewood, fencing and farming equipment
iii) Wetland planting as flood mitigation and to act as protective sump for nitrification along the River Boyne (salmonoid river)
iv) Agro-forestry: orchards in tillage fields to improve birdlife, diversify flora and fauna and reduce nitrification of the River
v) Native woodland planting – oak plantation to be planted above the River Boyne
vi) Hedge planting as a guest activity and part of our Eco-Hen packages
2) Interpretation and Education
a) Farm tours twice a week during our open season which will include:
i) Principles of organic farming, growing your own, small holdings and forest gardening
ii) Environmental management on farms
iii) Eco-build project
3) Contributing to Conservation
a) Re-establishment of hedgerows, coppice, agroforestry and native woodland planting
b) Barn-owl restoration programme – including non-use of 3rd generation rodenticide and installation of barn owl posts across the farm
c) Maintenance of Irish hare habitats in and around Rock Farm Slane Glamping
d) Ecological management of river banks along the Boyne
4) Benefiting local communities
a) Carina is a founder member of Meath Ecotourism
b) Carina is an active member of the local food cooperative Slane Food Circle
c) Rock Farm is involved in a Native Woodland planting scheme on the River Meadow creating an alluvial woodland as part of the Neighbour Woodland scheme this will allow people access to a larger area of the meadow from the Ramparts Walk to the alluvial woodland to enjoy greater access to restored ecological habitats along the River Boyne
d) Cooperation with the following local organisations:
Meath Ecotourism; Slane Community Forum; Slane Tidy Towns and Slane Craft Collective
5) Visitor satisfaction
a) Visitor satisfaction is key in any hospitality business, but we hope to go above and beyond the ordinary and provide an inspiring farm stay where any can come and learn about eco-building; organic farming and the sustainable management of the countryside. This is part of the intangible effect we want to have on our guests, that they might take a new eco-friendly practice or project home with them when they go.
b) If a visitor is not satisfied with their experience we encourage them to communicate with us while they are onsite and provide every means for them to talk and communicate with us
6) Responsible marketing
Rock Farm Slane conducts the majority of its marketing through its website and social media, which reduces the quantity of printed material and associated energy and environmental costs of mailed marketing.
We minimise the amount of marketing material by developing useful items such as postcards that promote our business and provide a useful item for the guest or contact who picks them up. All marketing materials are printed on FSC approved or recycled paper. We also reduce the amount of paper we use in printing to a minimum and print in black and white and double sized. Unused paper is used as scrap paper for taking notes.
7) Cultural respect and awareness
Rock Farm Slane is a multi-national organisation and has always embraced volunteers and staff from outside the country. However we are all keenly aware of and interested in the rich cultural heritage Ireland has to offer and believe that that is the principle reason that visitors come to the area.
We encourage our visitors and guests to embrace the live local music scene at Boyle’s in the village as well as story telling in the Village Inn, walking and cultural events in the local area. We use Facebook to communicate cultural events to our growing following and we work closely with The Hub (Slane Local Heroes) in the village to communicate activities as best as possible.