The Romany Rest B&B is a permaculture B&B situated on Prince Edward Island, Canada. It is run by Sandra Storr and husband Fred Alich.

The main growing areas are a vegetable plot, a mandala garden and a forest garden area. These are supplemented with herbs and salads on the verandah and immediately surrounding the house (since these are used the most frequently).


The site when it was purchased in 2006 (map with contours prepared by Douglas Barnes


The site showing progress made in Summer 2008 Sandra Storr


The overall design, now part-way implemented Sandra Storr

Although not yet off-grid, there is solar hot water and solar pool heating and two small wind projects are underway. A passive solar and energy-efficient retrofit has been undertaken which has brought about significant energy savings. Sandra and Fred also use and demonstrate low-tech ideas like solar cooking and dehydrating.

With 5 acres and just 2 people to look after it, the entire system needs to be efficient & low maintenance, although few mechanical tools are used. To save some time, sheep are used for grazing to reduce mowing, hens and ducks help with pest control and fertilising, mulching reduces hours of weeding & watering and a soaker hose on a timer reduces time for watering and saves on water. Xeric landscaping and mulching virtually removes the need for watering, so we we only water the polytunnel and the vegetables areas in very dry spells.

The growing areas are small-scale, intensive and highly productive, leaving some land free to go wild and space for tree-planting. Diversity of species is encouraged by using companion planting and guilds, adding animals and leaving wild areas to attract wild animals, birds & pollinators.

What is being done at the Romany RestEdit

  • Forest Gardening (small-scale agroforestry)
  • Permanent planting
  • Small amount of coppicing using native species wherever possible
  • Permanent plantings of fruit & vegetables
  • Organic growing
  • Use of appropriate energy
  • “perennializing” annuals by seeding, cuttings, etc.
  • Using mulches to reduce weeding and watering
  • Aiming for a no dig/till garden
  • Crop rotation
  • Diversity of Species
  • Grazing with sheep (only three!)
  • Preserving food by drying, root cellering and canning (using solar and wood where possible)
  • Planting crops like dry bush beans and peas which preserve naturally
  • Using Fungi (mushroom logs, wild fungi, cultivated, soil conditioners)
  • Grow and use Medicinal Herbs
  • Planting to attract birds, bees, butterflies & hummingbirds to assist in pollination.
  • Companion planting/Guilds.
  • Using living mulch, e.g. nasturtiums,
  • Seed Saving
  • Composting
  • Hedgerow/windbreak planting
  • Mandala garden
  • Use dynamic accummulator plants which extract useful minerals from the soil to help feed other plants
  • Xeric gardening - planning large areas of garden which require little or no watering
  • Use structures and plants to provide summer shading and cooling
  • Use passive solar techniques for winter heating and summer cooling
  • Lawn reduction (bit by bit - oh it isn’t easy!)

Dynamic accumulators used at the Romany RestEdit

(Planted in the guild or used as a green manure.)

Name of Plant What it Does
Alder (a natural local "weed") Nitrogen Fixer
Alfalfa Nitrogen fixer, accumulator of Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Potassium plus the young growth is delicious and nutritious
Bladderwrack and other seaweed from the local beach Iodine, Magnesium & Iron
Borage (usually seeds itself) Silica, Potassium and those beautiful blue flowers
Bracken grows naturally about the place Potassium, Phosphorus, Manganese, Iron, Copper. A lot of people here eat the fiddlehead greens from the wild ostrich fern
Carrot Leaves Magnesium, Potassium.
Chives Calcium. Clumps everywhere!
Clovers Nitrogen, Phosphorus. These were planted by the previous farmer after a grain crop, so are prolific on the property
Comfrey Silica, Nitrogen, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Iron
Dandelion Sodium, Silica, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorous, Iron, Copper.
Garlic Sulphur, Fluorine, Manganese
Lamb's Quarters (grows wild here) Nitrogen, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorous, Manganese. These are a local "weed". (can be added to green smoothies.
Lemon Balm Phosphorus
Lupins (a prolific wild flower on Prince Edward Island) Nitrogen, Phosphorus
Marigold Phosphorus
Mint Magnesium, Potassium
Salad Burnet Sodium, Sulphur, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron. It self-seeds very well.
Sorrel Sodium, Calcium, Phosphorous
Summer & Winter Savory Potassium
Strawberry Leaves Iron
Yarrow Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Copper

"Guilds" of plants have been designed which work together very well in the local climate. In each planting guild there is an attempt to incorporate the following components: Food plants, Nitrogen fixers, dynamic accumulators, groundcover/living mulch (if not available then organic mulch), Climbers, support for climbers, protection (insect repellents, attracting predators, thorny barriers), attractors for pollinators (e.g. flowers, water, seeds, perching places) and green manures.

Elements of the Romany Rest Permaculture SystemEdit

1. Buildings and Structures

Element Needs Products Intrinsic Factors
House Heating, Water, Power, Sewage, Cleaning, Maintenance Shelter, Warmth, Living Space, Business Premises Century Home, South-facing, Insulated, Basement
Animal Shed Straw, Nesting, Water Shelter for hens, ducks, sheep, chicks Secure, Insulated, Shaded
Pasture Rain, Sunshine Pasture, Food, shade Fenced, Shaded Areas, Ample Grass
Shed Maintenance Storage Wood Construction
Cottage Heatin, Water, Power, Sewage, Cleaning, Maintenance Income Bedsitting Room sleeps 4+, Kitchen, Bathroom
Polytunnel Sun, shade, water, fertilizer, weeding Extends Growing Season 8 x 15’, drip irrigation
Outdoor Furnace Wood, Maintenance Heat, Hot Water, Emissions, Wood Ash, Charcoal Quite Efficient
Fencing Maintenance Protection, Support Wire and Wood
Indoor Cookstove Scrap Wood, Cleaning Heat, Wood Ash, Emissions (small), Cooking, Hot Water, Boiling Water, Humidity, cheese and yoghurt making, bread rising, clothes drying, comfort Heat rises to bedroom above, fan takes heat into dining room, Ecofan, pans of hot water for thermal mass
Verandah Maintenance, Water Cool, bug-free, relaxing space, entertaining, growing space, passive solar gains/td> South facing, cool in summer (trees), large reflectors in winter, direct access from kitchen
Hedges Seedlings, Sunlight, Rain, Natural Mulch, Fertiliser Wind Barrier, Protection, Animal Barrier, Wildlife Habitat, Some Food, Some Firewood, Craft materials, Privacy Not yet all well established
Well Adequate supply of water from water table, occasional disinfection Water to house and yard Water softener, filtration system and UV lamp installed
Septic Tank Emptying (Rare) Nutrients and water to surrounding area, Sewage disposal Tank and Septic Field
Swimming Pool Pump for circulation and oxygenation, filter, chemicals (required by environmental health department) Relaxation, recreation, exercise, guest attraction, temperature stabilization, reflects sun’s rays, humidity, fire barrier, ice, emergency water supply 100,000 litres
Solar Hot Water Sunshine and Pump Approx 66% house & B&B hot water Pump is Solar PV
Solar Pool Heater Sunshine and Pump Warm Pool Water if Sun shines Sungrabber system about 80% of surface area of pool. If sun shines it works really well
Rear Screen Room Maintenance Cooking, eating, bug-free zone, relaxation, entertaining Houses freezer, protects from North Winds in Winter

2. Animals

Element Needs Products Intrinsic Factors
Hens Food, water, shelter, protection, dust, grit, air, companions Manure, eggs, heat, meat, gas, feathers, pest control, scratching, reducing vegetation, guest attraction, fertilized mulch from straw bedding Rhode Island Reds, Bantams, Plymouth Barred Rocks, Rooster
Ducks Food, drinking water, bathing water, shelter, protection, air, companions Manure, eggs, heat, meat, gas, feathers, pest control, reducing vegetation, guest attraction, fertilized mulch from straw bedding 2 Ducks and 2 Drakes (Francis Drake and Charley Drake)
Sheep Food, water, shelter, protection, companions, Health Care (worming, foot clipping) Manure, wool, meat, milk, guest attraction, grazing, fertilized mulch from bedding 2 Suffolks and 1 cross (Hereford?) breed
Ferrel Bees, Butterflies, Hummingbirds Flowers Pollination, attraction Wild Meadow and Companion Planting attracts more of them
Hens Food, water, shelter, protection,dust, grit, air, companions Manure, egges, heat, meat, gas, feathers, pest control, scratching, reducing vegetation, guest attraction, fertilized mulch from straw bedding Rhode Island Reds, Bantams, Plymouth Barred Rocks, Rooster

3. Growing Areas

Element Needs Products Intrinsic Factors
Fledgeling Coppice Areas Seedlings, Sun, Rainwater Small amounts of wood, craft materials, plant supports, outdoor seats We only have 5 acres so it will need very careful management
Forest Garden Sun, Rain, Mulch, Manure, Pest Control, Pruning, weeding Fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs, reduces lawn, some wood from prunings Companion planting guilds, layers
Vegetable Plot Water, Sun, Mulch, Pest Control, Weeding Vegetables, seeds, beans, reduces lawn, green manure, Fertiliser and pest control by hens and ducks
Perennial Beds Weeding, mulching, rainwater, sun Flowers, reduces lawn, bee/butterfly/hummingbird forage Xeric Landscaping
Herbs Rainwater, sun, mulch Medicines, Herbs, Bee forage Wrapped around front of house, Xeric
Mandala Garden Rainwater, sun, mulch, weeding Vegetables, Fruit, Medicines, Herbs, Bee forage, green manure 58’ dia, 2600+ sq ft
Tree Nursery Protection, Mulch New Trees Small area fenced with wattle
Wild Meadow Rainwater, sun Medicines, Herbs, Bee forage, area of natural biodiversity, woodland regeneration for future supplies of wood and craft materials, observation/learning, relaxing walks, space to sit 1.75 acres at the moment. 2.2 acres will be planted in the woodland regeneration scheme in June
Old Trees Sunlight, Rainwater Shade, Perfume, Raises Water Table, Habitat, Mulch, Seedlings, Medicines, Herbs, Bee forage, support for swing, could be used for shingles and cordage Deciduous

4. People

Element Needs Products Intrinsic Factors
2 + 2 Adults Air, Water, Food, Medicine, Companions, Shelter, Warmth, Clothing, Hygienic needs, e.g. soap Work, Excrement, knowledge, crafts, skills, preserved foods, social contact 2 Residents and 2 students in rented rooms in Winter
B&B Guests Air, Water, Food, shelter, Warmth, Cooling, Amenities, Linens Income, excrement, kitchen scraps, social contact Up to 10 per night in Summer
Neighbours Help & Support, share surplus Help and Support, share surplus, social interaction Garden clippings, etc.

Functions of the Romany Rest Permaculture SystemEdit

Each Element has multiple functions
Each Function is supported by a number of elements

Function Supporting Elements
Food Forest Garden, Mandala Garden, Vegetable Plot, Hedgerows, Wild Areas, Herbs, Polytunnel, Animals
Forage Pasture, forest Garden, Mandala, Vegetable Plot, Wild Areas, Herbs
Windbreak Trees, fences, perennial shrubs, vines
House, chicken house, straw bales
Protection House, Animal Shed, Fencing
Fire Control Grassed areas, pool, road, drive, paths
Mulch Paper, Cardboard, Carpets, Wood chips, grass clippings, seaweed, Forest Garden, Vegetable plot, Mandala
Manure Green from gardens, other from animals
Fuel Hedgrows, Neighbours, Fallen Trees, Coppicing
Erosion Control Trees, Wild Meadow, Fences, Planned Swales, Perennial Planting, Mulch, Lawn
Wildlife Habitat Trees, Wild Meadow, Plantings, Mulch, Hedgerows
Water Table Tree Planting, Old Trees, Forest Garden, Hedgerows
Warmth Outdoor Furnace, Indoor Cookstove, Passive Solar, Solar Water Heating
Social Verandah, screened porch, swimming pool & deck, House
Business Premises B&B Rooms, Cottage, Office in House
Propagation House, polytunnel, gardens
Storage House, Cottage, Basement, Behind Solar installation, Shed
Income Crafts, B&B, Preserves, Workshops
Cooking House, Cottage, Solar Cookers, Woodstove
Water Well, pool, pond (under construction), rainwater collection system
Guest Attractions Gardens, Meadow, Animals, Solar Installations, Swimming Pool, Rooms & Cottage
Grazine Sheep, ducks, hens
Pollination All gardens, Wild Meadow, Trees
Crafts Coppice, Forest Garden, Old Trees, Recycling
Social Contact B&B Guests, Rental Units, Neighbours, Friends
Learning Everywhere, especially Wild Meadow, Internet
Recreation Meadow, gardening, swimming pool, beach, internet
Medicines Wild Meadow, Hedgerows, Trees, Gardens, Herbs