Jim & Catherine Gowans
Owners of Braun Custom Meat Processors
Jim, a livestock nutritionist and Catherine, a retired Registered Nurse have owned Omnivore Acres Farm in Central Saanich since 2008. Stemming from the limited access to Island Abattoirs to process their pasture raised pigs, Jim and Catherine purchased Braun Custom Meat Processors in the Cowichan Valley in January 2018 from Alfred and Karen Braun. They are proud to be involved in sustainable agricultural practices, maintaining infrastructure vital to food security on southern Vancouver Island.
Licensed Abattoir, Red Seal Certified Meat Cutter, Butcher & Sausage Maker
In life, we all have a story to tell from when we are children to when we grow up. In all stages of life, we need three things; shelter, water, and food. My direction in life led intricately towards the later and food has been an important part of my life for a long time.
I grew up in in a small town in northern BC called Houston where I learned to hunt and fish. I learned to butcher those animals, and I remember butchering grouse at a very young age. I was good friends with a well-known hunting family and every year cut up moose as part of a birthday celebration. I enjoy cooking, and it seemed appropriate to me to become involved in the trade of butchery when I was able to do so.
There was a small slaughter facility in my home town, and at this facility, I learned to butcher lambs, pigs, turkeys, chickens, and beef. We did all aspects of the trade from slaughter, to cut, wrap and freeze. The name of this shop was Hamblin’s Farms, and this is where I did my apprenticeship. I started all this just before my sixteenth birthday, and in two years I had enough hours to finalize my apprenticeship. I took my Red Seal at Vancouver Community College when I was eighteen.
My story continues as I was drawn to the Island due to an exhibit, I saw at the Royal BC Museum. I toured the Island and fell in love with the climate. I applied at multiple butcher shops and was hired at Westholme Meat Packers in Duncan. I packed all my things and moved and moved to Duncan living in a tiny apartment, working at Westholme, learning a whole different speed and dynamic of the industry. At Westholme I came into my prime as a butcher and sausage maker being challenged in all areas of the industry, from slaughter to value added to dry-cured sausage making.
I brought my experience to Glenwood Meats and under the direction of Rick Fisher received a whole different experience in the industry. I processed hams, bacon, pepperoni, salami and all other variety of cured and smoked meats.
During my time at Glenwood, I received word that a butcher in the Cowichan Valley needed some part-time assistance. His name was Alfred Braun, and his shop was located in the Glenora district. I remember my first day like it was yesterday. It seemed that Alfred liked my work ethic; he invited me back to process pigs. We developed a friendship that exists to this day. We worked together for five years processing pigs, beef, lambs, and water buffalo. During this time, I worked with a number of butchers in the valley including Pat Martin and Robin Kerrone. It was a great experience for me getting to know a whole different dynamic in many local cutting shops. When Alfred and Karen decided to retire and sell the abattoir, I went back to Westholme for a full-time position.
In August 2017 I heard that Jim and Catherine Gowans of Omnivore Acres, long term customers of Braun’s were interested in buying the business and I was recommended to them to join them and manage the business. We opened on January 2nd, 2018.
Under the direction and vision of Jim and Catherine, we have upgraded the abattoir to meet future needs including a return to cut, wrap and freeze and smoking. Meeting the growing demand for locally raised and ethically slaughtered meat as well as attracting and training other workers of high skill and standard is what we are about.
Along the path of life, we get to meet new people and experience new things. When we meet people and live life with them, we learn to appreciate them for who they are to us whether they be an inspiration or push us to do better.
My wife and life partner Lindsay is one of those people. It is with many thanks that I have the privilege of going on this journey with her.
As we develop Braun Custom Meat Processors new challenges and opportunities are well supported in the community. We are grateful for this support.
Meat Cutter, Butcher & Abattoir Apprentice
Nicholas was born and raised on Vancouver Island and moved to the Cowichan Valley two years ago to live with family.
I worked as a community health care provider for over six years and the past three years I’ve been training as a meat cutter and now butcher/abattoir apprentice.
I’m proud to continue to work in our community learning the skills and craft of an old-world trade. I truly love my job and new career at Braun Custom Meat Processors.
I’m proud to provide a service that helps our community produce healthy, local food.
I have a passion and love for animals, cooking and food.
I believe every animal that comes to us from drop-off to pick-up deserves compassion, care and professionalism. Not only for the animal but as a respectful extension to the families for all their work producing food and maintaining our agricultural roots.