Fat Coffee, Fauxmage & Fresh Vegetables

Riverview Country Market showcases local food entrepreneurs’ products

With scores of new local products and a busy cafe serving up unique beverages, Riverview Country Market has changed since my last visit. I’d only been to Riverview a handful of times; this time it was their new coffee offerings featured on Instagram that drew me in. From Fat Coffee (coffee with coconut oil) to the super-hyped Bullet Coffee featuring ADL butter, it was clear to me that Riverview was stepping up their caffeine game.

As I sit down on the veranda with store manager Trisha Viaene, she briefly pauses to give Brett Bunston of Caledonia House Coffee a quick signature for their recent order. Bunston’s locally-roasted coffee beans are just some of the local products you can find here, and they’re the perfect starter for my conversation with Viaene. Featuring local, however, is nothing new to this family-run business that’s been in operation for almost a decade.

Recalling long days and marathon harvests on their farm over the years, Viaene insists the best part about being a family-run business is the support and understanding they have for each other. “A lot of us have all grown up working on a farm, so we just know how to work together and to work hard and strive for the best,” she said.

Today, Viaene, a recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of Canada, along with family members and close family friends who work at Riverview, are enjoying the fruits of their labour. Nineteen-year-old Jacob is the latest family member to join the staff, and is just one of the friendly faces you’ll find at the market. He and the rest of the Riverview crew work to increase awareness and appreciation for everything local amongst their customers.

“There is definitely a better understanding of the importance of eating healthy and supporting local that’s driving more people to drop in,” she said. Viaene has taken the lead on promoting the daily lunch specials and new features on social media to help get the word out at a much lower cost than traditional means. “Even just using Facebook and Instagram has really put us out there, so people can see what we can create here and what we’re all about.”

A bounty of fresh, local produce//Photo Credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Social media has also given the market a platform to showcase their newest products from local producers and artisans. These include Fresh Start Fauxmage’s line of vegan cheese, Seoul Food’s kimchi (Viaene’s favourite), Heatherdale Wholesome Goods’ organic canola oil and pumpkin, and Isle Saint-Jean Farm’s sheep’s-milk yogurt.

Viaene believes that supporting these local producers even before they launch their product is crucial for their success. “We invited Fauxmage to test their product with shoppers here before we stocked it on the shelves,” she said. Now it doesn’t stay on the shelves very long.

While local is definitely front and centre, Viaene and her family are proud of the curated collection of Canadian and international products that are in the mix. Taking cues from regulars, as well as tourists who are looking for specific products to make their Island visit extra special, the market offers a wide variety of pantry staples and trending products. Rose, Viaene’s mother, has a thing for mustard, making Riverview one of the only places on the Island you can find a large selection of Kozlik’s, a beloved Canadian brand that packs a punch.

After we finish our coffees, I head back inside to purchase some of Viaene’s recommended products. My basket of spreadable vegan cheese, garden tomatoes, and kimchi make for a perfect lunch the following day. It’s clear that Riverview has an appreciation for everything local, not just the products they carry at their location. In Viaene’s words, “We want people to shop local. It doesn’t have to be here, it can be directly from the farmer or anywhere they can find it.”

About Emilee Sorrey

Emilee Sorrey is a musician and marketer with a foods & nutrition foundation. She lives and works in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

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