About twelve years ago I was immersed in Permaculture.  I had been working in organic gardens for over ten years prior, both in Ontario and abroad – from Mississippi to Costa Rica to Argentina and Jamaica. I also participated in a two-week intensive permaculture course with Bill Mollison and Geoff Lawton, the ‘fathers’ of permaculture, in Istanbul, Turkey. Later on I participated in a workshop with Sepp Holzer, a renegade permaculturalist.

I came home with one goal in mind – to work with children and gardens.  I was offered a position at the Ottawa Montessori school in Alta Vista as the assistant teacher in the junior high school class and soon started a community garden on the property of a church just up the road from the school.  We joined forces with the community and sponsored garden plots for the subsidized housing residents located behind the school.  This became a thriving garden and a hub for encounters and exchanges within our community.  

This community garden was also the place where I met Dasha, a young woman from Siberia who had come to Canada to study at Carleton University.  She was enthralled by the gardens, and we quickly became friends. As time went on we embarked in a long term relationship that blossomed like the gardens where we first met. 

Two years later we were ready to start our own permaculture project and began searching for land. Now having a young family, we moved just outside of Perth on an eight acre property.  We got right to the task of analysing the land, designing a system and bringing in machinery to help build berms, hugelkulturs (planting mounds), a pond and swales. We named our homestead Agape Gardens, after we heard a speech by Martin Luther King in which he used the word agape in reference to universal love.

We soon had lush gardens and a forest of kale (which came from seeds collected from the community gardens). We joined the Perth Farmers Market and started to sell our products.  Soon we realized that there is only so much fresh kale people are willing to buy, which led us to make kale chips. These became a huge success and we subsequently approached health food stores who were happy to give us a chance.


We introduced new products to our line of healthy snacks, such as sprouted dehydrated seed crackers and kombucha, which became our next success. Soon kombucha became our main focus and ArtiZen kombucha was born. As our kombucha business grew we decided to move our family to Perth. Our gardens and our permaculture projects had to fend for themselves.  

We brought the principles of permaculture into our kombucha business; care of the earth, by using local spring water and doing our best to source either local organic or organic products from abroad. These include organic wild blueberries and organic grape juice, Ontario tart cherry juice, organic Peruvian ginger, and organic lemon juice. Our sugar and teas come from organic sources and we are working towards using Fair-Trade organic teas and sugars.

We know that in every sip of Artizen kombucha there is farmland and every product from the land has a story. We source the most ethical products we can and share that story through the kombuchas and iced teas we make. Every sip of these products can make a positive impact not only on our health, but also a positive environmental and ethical impact on the farmers and the land of the products we use. 

For those of you who are new to kombucha let us dive into what this beverage is, how it is made and its mysterious origins. Over twenty years ago I had dear friends who introduced me to this fantastic effervescent beverage.  It was a decade later that other friends gave us a litre of kombucha in a mason jar and this one litre became the base of all the kombucha we make today. Interestingly enough, Dasha, when a young child in Russia, had fond memories of making kombucha with her babushka (grandmother).     

There are many mysteries behind kombucha and one of these is its origin story.  From an alien offering to a healing remedy made by a Dr. Kombu for a Japanese emperor suffering from digestive issues in 200 B.C., the origins of kombucha remain an enigma. There is a name that floats around in the kombucha world, SCOBY. This is an acronym for ‘synergistic culture of bacteria and yeast.’  It is a ‘mother’ similar to the one found in raw apple cider vinegar. In making kombucha, it creates a disk and acts as a protective barrier between the outside world and the fermenting liquid below.

The resulting product, kombucha, is one of many fermented beverages from around the world that one could call the original ‘soft’ drinks.  These traditional fermented beverages, once enjoyed the world over, have been largely replaced with sugary soft drinks and energy drinks. 

Making kombucha is a relatively simple process.  One simply makes a sweet tea and adds the liquid kombucha and scoby from the previous batch to inoculate the tea.  There are proportions that need to be followed, but it is as easy as that.  After 7 to 12 days your original sweet tea will be transformed into a slightly sour and effervescent kombucha.  

The yeast breaks down the cane sugar sucrose and converts it to fructose and glucose, which have a lower glycemic impact on the body. A small amount of ethanol and B vitamins are also created in this process. The bacteria then consume the glucose and ethanol, and their by-products become healthy acids such as: acetic, benzoic, butyric, gluconic, glucuronic, lactic, nucleic and a whole host of beneficial organic amino acids, vitamins, electrolytes and enzymes. 

Because of all this natural goodness, plus the benefits of the polyphenols (antioxidants) present in the tea, kombucha is known as an adaptogen tonic with gentle balancing and detoxifying properties.  After the initial fermentation period you can drink this ‘naked’ kombucha, or you may wish to flavour it with fruit or herbs. We offer monthly workshops in Perth to teach people about teas and to help demystify the making of kombucha. 

Our kombucha and iced teas can be found throughout the region and at Carp Farmers’ Market. Check out our website for a map of locations where we are available on tap and in bottles. We have our flagship storefront at North Folk cafe here in Perth where you can find the widest selection of our products and flavours, as well as freshly made bagels, baked goods and delicious locally roasted coffee.

From our humble beginnings, with Dasha and I working on production, sales and marketing, we have grown to a team of five – a production team, and a sales and marketing team.  We look forward to introducing a diversity of products, expanding our line of iced teas, sweet tea concentrates and fermented dehydrated fruit snacks. As we grow and expand our line of products we remain steadfast to our original purpose of care of the earth, care of people and return of surplus by donating money to the Table community kitchen, here in Perth. 

As our focus became more about kombucha and less about gardening, I always wanted – and needed – to return to the land. My ambition now is to complement the fruit and herbs we use in the flavouring of our kombucha with produce grown from our land.  So it comes full circle, gardening brought us to kombucha and kombucha brings us back to the gardens. 

The next step is to create educational systems and work with the local schools to bring children to the land and give them the opportunity to learn about local food systems and watersheds.  Eventually the goal is to have summer camps and have children fully immersed in the permaculture gardens. The moral of the story is to never let go of your dreams, keep focused. The best is yet to come.

We appreciate and are humbled by the support from our community. Without you we could not be where we are today.  Thank you.  Let us raise our glass of kombucha and toast to our health, our happiness and our prosperity.


Sebastien Armand

ArtiZen Kombucha

12 Gore St. East in Perth, ON. 





From Permaculture to Kombucha and Back Again