Deer Isle Hostel
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Name:           Deer Isle Hostel

Address:       Dennis Carter

                      Anneli Carter-Sundqvist

                      65 Tennis Road

                      Deer Isle, Maine   04627

Phone:           207-348-2308



Products and Services:

-reasonable hostel accommodations

-off-the-grid lifestyle

-organic gardens

-sustainable farm

-communal dinners

-Shitake mushroom cultivation

-workshops & lectures - sustainable practices

-adjacent to nature preserve

-close to kayaking, clamming, swimming

What Makes Deer Hostel Unique?  

The family of Unique Maine Farms had the good fortune of being involved in a volunteer project that included spending several summers in Ireland and staying at over one hundred Irish hostels in exchange for the creation of webpages about them: It was thrilling to have the opportunity to check out a Maine hostel that was situated on a farm.  After a September 2013 visit to the Deer Isle Hostel, there is no hesitation in stating that the Deer Isle Hostel is most definitely an extraordinary farm and a very unique lodging accommodation .  The background of the construction of the hostel building is amazing and the highly sustainable lifestyle of the homesteaders who own the property is truly admirable.

In comparison to Europe, there are significantly fewer hostels in the United States.  There is often a misconception in our country among people that have never stayed at a hostel that they are accommodations that only attract young party-loving backpackers.  Deer Isle Hostel expects guests to be reasonably quiet and respectful.  They welcome visitors of all ages and even provide a discount for families with children under the age of fourteen.  One of their major goals is to invite guests to experience a sustainable lifestyle that emphasizes minimal use of fossil fuels and a respect for the environment.

For those not familiar with hostels, there are certain features that are generally standard.

People staying at hostels have access to a well-equipped kitchen where they can make their own meals.  This proves to be extremely economical for travelers on a budget since eating out can prove to be quite costly. Guests at hostels are expected to clean up after themselves in the kitchen and bathroom and common areas.  Clean sheets and blankets are usually provided.  There is always a common area where people can gather to talk, read, play music, or just relax. At the Deer Isle Hostel, laptops and cell phones are not allowed in the common areas since guests are encouraged to visit or enjoy some quiet time.  Most hostels offer sleeping accommodations in both private or shared rooms and the lodging fees are usually quite reasonable.

The rates at the Deer Isle Hostel are extremely affordable.  The fee for a bed in a dorm style room for one night is $25 for adults and $15 for children fourteen years of age and under.  A private room at the hostel which sleeps two to four people (one double bed and a set of bunk beds) costs $60 per night for single or double occupancy.  For additional adults, the fee is an additional $30 each.  A $15 charge for youth of fourteen years of age and under is $15 each. The rate for the secluded Spruce Hut is $60 per night for single or double occupancy.  There is also a single private room available with a single bed in a small cabin about 200 feet from the main building that is available on a nightly basis.

The Deer Isle Hostel is very unique in that it is off the grid and there is no refrigerator or freezer. There is passive solar heating which helps to run the lights.  There are gas and wood cooking stoves, but no running water.  Water is accessed from a hand pump. Food is stored in the root cellar under the hostel.  The bathroom is an odor-free composting toilet that is situated in a small building behind the hostel. The hostel is only open from June through September and reservations are strongly encouraged.

The shower facility the Deer Isle Hostel is definitely one-of-a-kind!  If you can picture a small open-air building with sides and  a faucet that can be turned on to produce water to fill a sprinkling can, you can picture the “shower!”

Good-natured Dennis shared quite a few smiles as he explained the process of showering at the hostel.  He designed the system so a pipe carrying water runs through the interior of a naturally heat-producing compost pile outside the shower.  The concentrated heat inside the compost takes the chill out of the water.  The hostel is only open from June through September, so frozen pipes are fortunately a non-issue.

Yes, the Deer Isle Hostel does offer a type of accommodation that might be considered a

little “basic” by some people’s standards,  but the building, the atmosphere, and the natural surroundings are “out of this world.” At what other accommodation in Maine can you be assured of a pleasant communal dinner at night where everyone has agreed to contribute some food for the dinner?  Adjacent to the hostel is the Edgar M. Tennis Preserve - a seaside nature preserve which offers walking trails through the woods and along the coast.  There are a canoe and a bicycle that can be borrowed at the hostel.  Opportunities for swimming, kayaking, and acquiring fresh clams and lobster are nearby.  The Deer Isle Peninsula is renown for its many art galleries, restaurants, cultural events, and many hiking spots.  Guests often enjoy visits to Isle Au Haut, Nervous Nellies, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

The hostel is situated on a working farm.  Dennis and Anneli raise pigs and chickens.  They butcher and smoke the animals. They have extensive organic vegetable gardens from which many items are harvested for the optional communal dinner each night.  Garlic is grown at the farm and sold locally. Shitake mushrooms are also cultivated on the farm.  The wood that they harvest is used for cooking and heating.  Dennis and Anneli grow their own food and forage for wild plants and fruits.  Preserving food for the winter is a top priority.  They live in a small cabin that they built.  They have become proficient at so many skills that enable them to be self-sufficient.  They even are experienced in cutting granite by hand.

Dennis and Anneli are excited about sharing their knowledge and experiences in sustainable living with others.  They have conducted various workshops at the hostel on topics such as gardening, fermentation, hard-cider making, and plant medicine.

Dennis purchased the twenty-six acre property on Tennis Road in Deer Isle in 2002, with the intention of opening a hostel.  He met Anneli at the Hostel in the Forest in Georgia and they have worked together on establishing the hostel and farm since 2008.

The hostel is situated in a seventeenth-century style timber framed house that Dennis built.  What a joy it was to be able to discuss the building process with Dennis.  His love of colonial building construction is very obvious.  He enthusiastically agreed to round up and share Abbott Lowell Cummings’  The Framed Houses of the Massachusetts Bay-1625-1725, which was one of the books that helped in the design of the building.  The three-story timber-framed house that he constructed was inspired by the Boardman House which was built around 1687 in Saugus, Massachusetts.

With a fascination with hand tools and historic

building practices, and a background in owning a carpentry and masonry business, Dennis was able to split all the stones for the foundation and the large granite root cellar with the use of hand tools. He is appreciative of the many volunteers who agreed to step forward and help with the project by either donating labor or materials.

Dennis incorporated five species of wood in the construction of the house.  Hand split wooden pegs and mortise and tenon joinery were used in the project.  The two exterior doors of the house are magnificent.  They were based on the doors that were built for the Indian House of Deerfield, Massachusetts, that was constructed in 1691.

Dennis spent a great deal of time building the beautiful windows for the house.  The cypress and wavy glass used in the construction were both salvaged.  The mortise and tenon joinery took place at Bill Turner’s woodworking shop in Stomington, and the hardware was forged by Ian Walker, a local blacksmith from Stonington.  Jim Bannon of Village Green Timberframes in Blue Hill proved helpful, as did their neighbor, Kimball. There is a definite appreciation for the members of the local community at Deer Isle Hostel.  Not only are products from local artisans (homemade jams, granola, soaps, and books) for sale at the hostel, Dennis and Anneli have held a Farm Feast with food supplied by several local farmers.

The recognition that Dennis and Anneli have received for their efforts is most impressive.  They were chosen as the “Homesteaders of the Year” by Mother Earth News.   The Deer Isle Hostel was honored with the Down East “Editor Choice Award for the 2013 Best Budget Lodging.”  Stories about their hostel have appeared in the Boston Globe and in the Portland Press Herald.  They were also featured in the book, Deer Isle - A Special Place by Sara W. Forster.

It is unfortunate that Maine has so few hostels because hostels offer a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all over the world.  How fortunate that Dennis and Anneli have committed to opening their farm and offering hostel accommodations to visitors from June through September.  Besides all the food that they produce and the animals that they raise, and the accommodations that they offer, Dennis and Anneli are making another huge contribution. By sharing their homesteading lifestyle and their respect for nature and the environment they are raising awareness about the fact that people can live productive and comfortable lives with much less dependency on fossil fuels.

Farm AnimalsDeer_Isle_-_Animals.html
Structure of the BuildingDeer_Isle_-_Building.html
Kitchen & Dining 
Inside the HostelDeer_Isle_-_Inside_Hostel.html
Taking a ShowerDeer_Isle_-_Taking_a_Shower.html
Mushroom CultivationDeer_Isle_-_Mushrooms.html
Spruce HutDeer_Isle_-_Spruce_Hut.html
Composting ToiletDeer_Isle_-_Bathroom.html
Around the FarmDeer_Isle_-_Around_the_Farm.html

Dennis Carter and Anneli Carter-Sundqvist.  (Photo courtesy of the Deer Isle Hostel website).