by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
North Grenville resident, Chris Pignon, is driven to do good and DoGood Kombucha is his most recent way of doing so. A weekly vendor at the Kemptville Farmer’s Market, Chris has been brewing and selling kombucha to support charitable organizations, most recently Kemptville Pride.
Chris, who has been a police officer in Ottawa for 25 years, started brewing kombucha about seven years ago. Kombucha is a sweet-and-sour tea based drink. Through interaction with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast, tea and sugar are fermented as kombucha. The process is similar to how cabbage is preserved as sauerkraut, or milk as yogurt. Small-batch kombucha is unpasteurized, and its consumption has been related to a number of health benefits, due to the probiotics provided for healthy gut function.
Chris fell in love with kombucha, as well as the process of brewing. He explained, “I found it very therapeutic for helping me with my own inner self, because it’s a living thing. It tells me when it’s ready to be brewed. It’s this alive thing that you have to take care of, or it dies. And it also allows me to express my creative side. It became one of those things. As I do when I have an idea, I researched the hell out of it, worked to figure out how to do it the best I could, and then DoGood Kombucha happened.”
Since Chris already has a full-time career, DoGood Kombucha isn’t a business that he aims to push for maximum profit. His goal is to grow slowly and organically, and donate the proceeds of sales to causes that seem appropriate for each batch. He often gets too excited and carried away, and his wife, Sandy, keeps him grounded: she inspires him to work hard, but isn’t afraid to remind him that he’s “not making any profit yet.” At the scale he’s working at now, Chris estimates that his donations amount to about 20% of total sales.
Having only recently branched out to the Barrhaven Log Farm market, and with hopes to start attending some other nearby markets as well, Chris admits he feels almost like he’s “cheating on the Kemptville Farmer’s Market.” He explains that last year, while struggling a bit to get DoGood Kombucha organized, packaged, and ready for sales, Stacey Johnson, manager for the Kemptville Farmer’s Market, was nothing but patient and supportive.
Many patrons of the market have also taken to Chris’ brews. He notes, however, that there is a “huge curve for education.” People are often put off by the idea of a fermented product, or are unaware of the various ways in which fermented foods support a healthy diet. Chris says that ferments like Kombucha are often “that missing piece of the puzzle, the piece that can help people with their diet, or if they’re suffering from something related to diet. And I’ve had so many great people walking into the market who aren’t sure, maybe it seems a bit scary. But, now that we have samples, it’s just great for education.”
DoGood Kombucha comes in an array of flavours, and offer the refreshing fizz of a carbonated drink without artificial carbonation or a whack of sugar. You can find Chris at the Kemptville Farmer’s Market every Sunday through late October, or at www.facebook.com/DoGoodKombucha.