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Kombucha lovers now have a place to call their own.
Verena Varga and Amy Smith, co-owners of Heart Beet Organics farm in Darlington, opened their first store on Great George Street in Charlottetown on Aug. 1. The marché and taproom called Farmacy+Fermentary will sell locally-sourced produce, fermented vegetables, and seven flavours of kombucha, which is a fermented tea drink.
They’ve been selling their produce and kombucha at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market and a few restaurants for the past while. They were looking into becoming more independent, so when the space beside Timothy’s World Coffee became available, they decided to go for it, Varga said.
“It just all kind of lined up. We wanted to do something more.”
They’ve been working on it since last March. They wanted to open sooner, but renovations slowed things down.
“So it’s been a long time in the works," she said.
“We’re pretty confident that Charlottetown is ready for a business like this."
Other restaurants also sell their kombucha, which caused some controversy due to its minor liquor content. In 2018, a warning from a liquor inspector forced one restaurant to stop selling it.
“Our liquor laws on P.E.I. are fairly outdated.” Smith said.
But the ban was lifted just a couple days later, and the situation made opening Farmacy+Fermentary much easier.
“Working with the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission was great. They were really supportive,” Smith said. “(Because) they were already well aware of what kombucha was.”
The business has two extra taps for local beers and ciders. They can use these to mix their booch with some booze, resulting in kombucha cocktails.
Many are turning to kombucha as an alternative to alcohol, rather than less healthy drinks like soda. Smith hopes the downtown taproom will provide a social setting where people who choose not to drink alcohol can be more comfortable.
“I think it’s new for Charlottetown.”
She and Varga also hope to host lots of live entertainment, and they want to offer workshops teaching people to ferment kombucha and kimchi. There are lots of possibilities, Smith said.
The store space they’re using has had lots of turnover throughout the years, with many small businesses coming and going. But Smith and Varga thought hard about their business plan, and with all the support and feedback they’ve received, they’re confident locals and tourists will love the concept.
“We’re pretty confident that Charlottetown is ready for a business like this,” Smith said.