Ever had water kefir? The tart, effervescent, non-alcoholic, probiotic beverage — a relative of the yogurt-like, milk-based kefir that more and more Maine farms are offering these days — could be poised to enter the mainstream if Kayla Shepard and her sister Jamie have anything to say about it. The two are crowdfunding a Biddeford-based company called Zym, short for zymurgy, or the study of fermentation. They've raised just shy of $2,000 in a quest for $15,000 via GoFundMe, a fundraising service that doesn't have time constraints the way Kickstarter and IndieGoGo do.
Jamie currently manages garden supply store Greenlife, while Kayla works at the Pepperell Mill tasting room of Banded Horn Brewing Company. In a previously-certified commercial kitchen space in the same building, Zym is producing its yeast- and lactobacillus-fermented water kefir in flavors like cucumber-mint, lemon-ginger, lemon-lime, and rose petal. As the Press Herald reported recently, Biddeford is quickly becoming a hub for innovators. Echoing this sentiment, Kayla told Eater, "Being a part of the Pepperell Mill community has been inspiring, we are constantly surrounded by so many small, thriving businesses in support of each other."
She said that in order to get the licensing needed to sell this raw drink with potential health benefits, Zym has to go through "an expensive process" of having a lab "test our product and write a letter to the state saying that our product is safe for consumption," hence the fundraiser. At the $30 donation mark, supporters would receive a four-pack of choice once the company is fully certified. Can Zym harness the energy of the ferment occurring south of Portland?