Kermit the Frog once said, it’s not easy being green. While I can’t speak for frogs, I do concur that many ecotourists feel the same. Fortunately Rock Farm Slane, located in the historic Boyne Valley makes being green not only easy, but also fun!
Greenwashing, is a practice when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact, according to the Greenwashing Index. It abounds in the tourism industry, especially in the hospitality industry. We’ve all seen the signs in hotel rooms about reusing our towels – which I’m all in favour for, but when that’s all a hotel is doing and then pretends it’s green, it’s a bit of a stretch.
These efforts seem downright measly after a visit to Rock Farm Slane. They offer Gold-Certified Ecotourism luxury camping, also known as glamping between April and November. You choose between staying in one of the five yurts (see top photo if you don’t know what a yurt looks like) or one of the 2 shepherds huts.
Everything about the accommodation is eco-friendly. The soap is handmade locally, the communal toilets are compost toilets, in which pee and poo is separated and treated through ecological waste processing. Later, it gets spread on the hazel bushes as fertilizer! Trust me, this is one toilet bowl that you actually want to look into, to see how it works!
Much of the food is grown locally on the farm and what can’t be grown is sourced from nearby.
Instead of electricity in the huts and yurts, guests are given a lantern as a light source.
One of the most impressive aspects though was how Rock Farm Slane harvests grey water. You’ll see large cells which look like weed beds. The discharge is absorbed by the plants and after ~15 years, it’s scraped off and used as compost.
Rain water, naturally abundant in Ireland, also plays an important role in the ecological operations. It’s collected and used in the toilets! Most recently, the owner Carina, who holds a Masters degree in Environmental Technology, has created a natural swimming pool strictly by harvesting rain water! And yes, it’s a completely separate system from the gray water pools, so there’s no chance of contamination!
The other really cool aspect of Rock Farm Slane is the community aspect. They participate in the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) program, in which volunteers work in exchange for room and board. There’s also a large communal kitchen and lounge area, where guests can prepare their own food and hang out with each other!
Despite, all the ecological innovations at Rock Farm Slane, you will never feel preached to. I hung out with the owner Carina for most of the day and throughly enjoyed her company! She’s incredibly welcoming and while very passionate about ecotourism, she doesn’t push it on you.
What’s an ecotourist not to love? Did I mention the views of the nearby Rock Farm Slane Castle that you can see from some of the yurts!
E-Biking Through the Boyne Valley
It’s not just the accommodation that’s eco-friendly, the activities are also designed with the ecotourist in mind. Rock Farm Slane is located in the Boyne Valley, an area filled with 9000 years of history and historical sites. Traditionally, people have explored the sites by car, driving from site to site, even though many of them are not very far from each other. At Rock Farm Slane, you can rent an e-bike. An e-bike has different levels you can adjust to get more help, which is especially useful on hills. You can either explore the sights with a guide or on your own. You can spend as little as a half day or several days exploring the famous sights like the UNESCO World Heritage Site Brú na Bóinne Newgrange and Knowth ancient monuments, the famous Slane Castle (where Vikings is also filled), and the Hill of Slane,
I went with Carina and we explored a few of these, on an e-bike of course:
When is the last time you climbed a tree? For me, it was probably when I was a kid, which is why I was so excited for this activity! An instructor teaches you the ropes, and the very important knots to keep you from falling. You will slowly work your way up a stunning mature oak tree. It’s hard work, and it takes a few minutes to find your rhythm, but once you do, your feet are off the ground and you’re climbing a tree!
Your reward for getting to the top is stunning views of Slane Castle and the Boyne Valley! Not to mention re-connecting with nature in a way that you probably haven’t done since you were a kid! At the time of writing, Rock Farm Slane was the only place offering this tree climbing activity in all of Ireland, so it’s a special treat!
I think even Kermit the Frog may agree that at Rock Farm Slane it is not only easy being green, it’s also a lot of fun!
Note: Thank you to Rock Farm Slane, EcoTourism Ireland and Tourism Ireland for making my visit possible. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.