Vessel Meats on Primrose | Help us generate the funds we need to complete our neighbourhood butcher shop in Dartmouth.
Vessel Meats started very organically at the Alderney Landing Farmer’s Market 5 years ago; when Brianna, who was working part time at a butcher shop began selling meat to her vegetable customers on Saturdays.
It has been 5 years, and in that time the business has grown to have 1 full time employee and operates out of several markets. The one thing Vessel Meats is lacking is A RETAIL BUTCHER SPACE OF OUR VERY OWN.
Vessel has grown to the point where we can’t grow any further. We need a place to train staff, to educate customers, gain more autonomy over our product and MAKE OUR DELICIOUS MEATS available FULL TIME. In our own home we can expand our product line and make fresh local meat available every day of the week.
But to do this we need infrastructure. You need clean government certified facilities; you need walk in coolers and work space. And although we have been VERY lucky to rent these spaces from our friends thus far, we are outgrowing our shared space and it is time to move onward and upward (and into the city!)
Building this space is no small feat. Brianna has been working on it tirelessly full time for over a year. (as many of you know). But we have found a place that we think will suit us up on Primrose Street, in North Dartmouth.
It has been 5 years since Brianna first packed up her meats at 4 am and trucked them in to Dartmouth and now it is time to build a full time space in the same community we started in.
What We Need & What You Get
Building a butchery from the ground up is no small feat! The space on Primrose is literally an empty canvas, where we will be building every piece of infrastructure in the space. Although we have most of the funds for this project there are a few things that require additional funding.
- What is a butcher shop without a meat rail? Since we work with whole carcasses having a rail system and loading door makes everything a lot easier to manage. It is SAFER for the staff as it will carry the brunt of the weight that otherwise is literally put onto the backs of humans. The cost of having the rail built and the ceiling reinforced to carry the weight has been quoted at $30 000.
- BACON – we NEED a smoker for bacon! A smoker is currently scheduled into the second phase of the project and is a service we currently contract out from another local third party. Having our own will allow us more autonomy over the quality of our product and enable us to manage costs associated with contracting out this work. Approximate cost is $10 000.
- We tried to design our perks so there would be something for everyone. Non-locals can support us by purchasing a tshirt or a tote bag which we can ship anywhere! We are also offering meat packages for your freezer or back yard BBQ as well as various classes in the shop or in your home!
Due to the cost of this entire project it has been designed in phases. The first phase and build is to get the craft butchery built and off the ground. If we don’t meet the goal? If we can’t afford the rail system then there is more heavy lifting and hand bombing work. The smoker will have to wait for 2-3 years until we have found our footing.
Vessel Meats started very organically and grew because THE COMMUNITY supported it. There are not enough butchers in Nova Scotia who are working with local farmers to help them grow better products. There are not enough butchers in Nova Scotia dedicating their energy to dedicated local sourcing for the consumers. We pride ourselves on sourcing all our meat directly from Nova Scotia farms and doing our best to bring delicious, healthy, sustainable meat to our community.
Vessel Meats, until this point has built our business slowly, but surely. We have gradually built the business based in farmer’s markets, over the past 5 years. The more conversations we have the more people want to talk, and see, and know about where there food is coming from. We pride ourselves on using local ingredients from Nova Scotia suppliers. We take our time to mix all our spices by hand and create everything in small batches. Over 5 years the people have encouraged us time and again. Now it’s time to make our current products available full time and expand to create new products.
Currently we are only available at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday and Sunday, which is the maximum our current permits allow. Building a full retail and production facility in our community will allow us not only to make our products available full time, it will also allow us to;
- Expand our training and create full time employment opportunities. We are ready to hire and train another butcher but this is unsustainable until we have a full time retail facility.
- Provide educational opportunities. We really believe in connecting farmers to our community. This project will allow us to provide space for farmers to talk to the community about sustainable farming practices and provide information about farming practices in Nova Scotia.
- Expand our product line. In a full retail facility we will be able to expand on the products we currently produce and create new ones!
Risks & Challenges
Building a small scale butcher shop doesn’t come without challenges. We pride ourselves on paying fair pricing to all of our suppliers – without farmers we have no food! But paying local farmers fair pricing means we often are paying a higher then “market value” – competing against big time processors. This means that our products may cost more then the average “grocery store” meat. But our experience time and again tells us that Nova Scotia and it’s citizens are ready for quality vs quantity when it comes to the meat they consume.
The long term scope of this project is to expand the business into an operational deli as well. Although the butchery/deli is very common in other parts of the country they don’t seem to exist on the East Coast. We have seen first hand how they operate in other parts of Canada and are confident that we too, can and want to eat, local artisinal products grown by neighbours in our province. Although it will take some trailblazing; our experience already has shown us that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other anything is possible.
As we have learned, getting this project to this point; things can often take longer then we think! That’s why we have spread our rewards out over a period of time based on the building phases of the project and us getting comfortable in our new home. TShirts and Tote bags can be shipped once they are printed and we don’t need the butchery to deliver those rewards. Packages and steaks will be available once we open our doors (anticipated June 2020) and classes will be offered in the fall and winter (2020/2021) as we get settled into our new space and are comfortable welcoming others into our shop!
Brianna started her journey learning about butchery 6 years ago when she started working part time in a custom and retail butcher shop to “learn about meat”. Over time (not over night 🙂 ) she fell in love with the trade and started Vessel Meats in her free time to help bring local, ethical meat into her community.
Vessel Meats allowed her to hone her skills and put her own twist on various meat products. Over the next 5 years, she visited various farms and butcher shops including an all-female meat camp in Texas, a month spent in various shops in Montreal, and appearing on the first season of The Butcher (History Channel S01E01). You can follow her progression on our instagram page @vesselmeats
Other Ways You Can Help
Thanks for reading this far! If you can’t contribute financially that’s ok! There are other ways you spread the word by:
If you’d like to financially contribute to our campaign in a different way than what we have listed, please send an email to [email protected] We are open to hearing your idea!