Ballyshannon family farm features in Fáilte Ireland campaign

A family-run dairy, agri-tourism and accredited social farm in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, attracting visitors with its llama treks, recently featured in the Fáilte Ireland ‘Make a Break for It’ campaign.

Campview farm, owned by the Vaughan family, was showcased as one of Donegal’s main attractions when exploring the Wild Atlantic Way.

“Our farm tours provide an exciting fun and educational opportunity for adults, students and families to meet and feed our farm animals; visit a fully functional milking parlour; learn about the milk production process; explore the farmland; and get involved in fun farm games and activities,” said Grace Vaughan.

“Our llama treks offer a relaxing and tranquil experience where people enjoy a dander onto the beautiful shoreline of the Erne estuary with a llama by their side. This activity is for adults only and is a fantastic way to celebrate a special occasion. Booking is essential for the farm tours and llama treks,” she said.

The Vaughans bought their llamas in Fermanagh and Monaghan and found that they easily adapted to life on the Ballyshannon farm.

“They are very easy to work with and absolutely love all the attention they get from visitors. The walk on the beach is definitely their favourite part of the day. They also love each other’s company and don’t like to be on their own,” Grace said.

English language package

“We hope to recommence our farm stay and English language package for international students in 2021, depending on the Covid-19 restrictions.

“We provide international and European students with on-site private English language tuition, accommodation in the farmhouse and the opportunity to get involved in our agricultural and agri-tourism business.

“I am a qualified TEFL teacher and am currently completing my MEd in adult and further education. My mother is a qualified nurse and a teacher so we both co-ordinate this package,” Grace said.

The farm was originally established before 1912 by the Vaughans. Drew Vaughan is the current owner and farm manager, the fifth generation of the family to run the farm. Grace and her brother Ashley play key roles in the running of the enterprise.

Drew has milked the dairy herd for over the last 35 years and Ashley is also involved in milking of the dairy herd.

“The farm was originally established as a dairy farm and dairying still remains to be its main agricultural enterprise today. However, we are a mixed enterprise farm in the sense that we also keep sheep and beef cattle,” said Grace.

“Generally speaking, my father and brother Ashley run the agricultural side of the business while my mum Elspeth and myself run the agri-tourism and accommodation side of the farm,” she said.

“In 2018, we decided to diversify the farm into agri-tourism while still continuing to operate as a fully functional working farm. This is our main selling point. Nothing is for show.

When the visitors arrive at Campview farm they are stepping into a farmer’s wellies for the day and are given the opportunity to experience what farming life is truly like in rural Ireland and, more importantly, what a family-run farm is like.

“We currently run farm tours which cost €10 per person and which last approximately 1.5 hours. They are are tailored to suit the needs of every group. Essentially they are for anyone who has an interest in animals, farming and agriculture,” Grace said.

“People get a chance to meet and feed the animals and to see the dairy herd being milked by either Drew or Ashley. They also get to taste the milk and to explore the land on a tractor and trailer ride and by foot.

“There is also the opportunity to see the most northern turlough – disappearing lake – in the country. Farm games and activities are also provided and a trip to the fairy forest is included for groups with children,” she said.

“In August of this year we launched our guided llama treks to the Erne estuary. A llama trek is priced at €20 per person. Those who book this package get to enjoy a scenic walk from Campview farm. When they arrive back to the farm they are provided with light refreshments,” the Ballyshannon woman said.

Barn conversion

“This November we are opening our on-site barn conversion ‘The Cuddly Cow’. This accommodation is right next door to our milking parlour.

“Consequently, tourists who stay there will get a truly immersive farm stay experience as they will be given the opportunity to wake up early and visit the milking parlour to see the cows being milked and to have a go at it themselves,” said the Ballyshannon woman.

Our shepherd hut glamping site was due to open during the summer. However, due to the global pandemic we now hope to have it open in summer 2021.

“Campview farm is also an accredited social farm and is a day service for the HSE [Health Service Executive]. We take clients for animal assisted therapy and ‘green’ care,” she said.

Teamwork

“It’s all about teamwork. We all have expertise in different areas, whether it be agriculture; tourism; health; or education. We also all have quite different personalities but, by working together, we are able to combine our skills and knowledge to make it all work,” said the Ballyshannon woman.

“The fact that we individually have a variety of interests is essentially what has allowed us to offer a wide variety of enterprises at Campview. Every person brings their own set of ideas, skills and knowledge to the table and we continually learn from each other.

“We also continually learn from those in the wider tourism and agriculture sector as we go along. We have found them more than helpful and willing to advise.”