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Brass Ridge Acres wins the 2024 PitchIt! Minto Business Competition

Updated: Jun 21, 2024

Harriston June 20, 2024:  

The Town of Minto and the LaunchIt Business Exploration Centre have wrapped up the 12th Annual PitchIt Minto Business Competition and the results are in! The PitchIt Minto Business Plan Competition started in 2012 to grow small businesses in Minto and increase awareness of the resources available. The competition has grown and evolved over time and this year marked the largest number of finalists – 10 and prizes (in-kind and cash) offered - $28,500!

The winner of the 2024 competition is Brass Ridge Acres, owned and operated by Jessica and Brad Cowan. Brass Ridge Acres is a small farm located west of Harriston. They grow cut flowers at a small scale during the harvest season and offer flower bundles for pick-up and delivery. Demand is outpacing supply and as a result they applied to PitchIt to help expand their business. The expansion plan includes going from a flower garden to a 2-acre flower field. To do this they need to lengthen the growing season by investing in a greenhouse, a hoop house, irrigation, frost cloth, and landscape fabric, expand the variety of flowers grown and create a marketing strategy. With a larger growing space and access to the necessary resources/inputs, they plan to offer u-pick events, an inviting/inclusive space for use to community members, wholesale programs for local floral and event planning businesses, pre-order and subscription services, outdoor learning opportunities for local youth, partnerships with other local agri-tourism businesses and agriculture education programs, daily farm-stand flower bundle availability, tuber and seedling sales, and volunteer and employment opportunities.  

Director of Economic & Community Development, Belinda Wick-Graham noted that fifteen entries were received, and all were deemed worthy to move on to submitting full business model canvases and presenting to the judges. In the end 10 businesses moved on as finalists.  “This year we revamped PitchIt to move away from a traditional business plan and used the Business Model Canvas. This allowed the participants to learn all elements of a business plan and think through their business without the intimidation factor of writing a full-blown plan”. 

The finalists included (in no particular order):

Brass Ridge Acres, owned by Jessica and Brad Cowan, Minto Township

May’s Specialties (May’s Café at the Old Post), owned by Mabel Amapali, Harriston 
Nadur + Nadur Wellness, owned by Trish and Maggie Riley, Harriston
Reroot Farm, owned by Caitlin Hall, Minto Township
Eh 2 Zed, owned by Jan Campbell, Harriston

Dulce Heaven Cookies and Scoops, owned by Carlos Trivino, Palmerston
Son of RA Sourdough, owned by Mark LaRiviere, Harriston
Ellis Odesseys Travel, owned by Tracey Ellis, Harriston

Bright Green Roof, submitted by Alan and Paula Roaring, Harriston  
Kyra Ash Nutrition Solutions, owned by Kyra Ash, Clifford

PitchIt Minto offers prizing for the winner and all finalists as well as a pool of prizing that can be customized based on the needs of the finalists. Thanks to the support of our generous community sponsors over $28,500 in cash and prizes have been awarded to the 10 finalists. “We have never had so many finalists before and when we asked our sponsors if they would be willing to step up and offer the finalist prizes to more businesses then expected they didn’t hesitate to say yes!” said Wick-Graham.

The judges had no easy feat this year. Dr. Shawn McDonald, a previous PitchIt! winner, owner of McDonald Chiropractic and current Chair of the Minto Chamber of Commerce said “The 2024 PitchIt competition was one of the best yet. A large contestant pool, a wide variety of skill sets, and business concepts made it exciting for the judges.  I wish everyone much success with entrepreneurship. Congratulations not only to the winner but everyone as it was a very difficult decision”. 
Kristel Manes, Executive Director with the Business Centre Guelph Wellington and a long-time judge of PitchIt! commented ‘I was so personally impressed with the experience, knowledge, and creative caliber of all the contestants and wish them all great success with their business aspirations!”.

“Jumping into something outside of your area of expertise, like business exploration, is exciting and challenging. The PitchIt competition is a unique opportunity where new and expanding local businesses can feel well-supported as they learn how to grow. The competition encouraged us to explore and leverage the many expert resources available within our community. We truly value the connections made with other local businesses and organizations throughout the process. We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the PitchIt competition and look forward to expanding from garden to field in 2025! Thank you to all of the wonderful sponsors for their contributions!” said Jessica Cowan, owner of Brass Ridge Acres.

Entrepreneurs are encouraged to watch for the annual PitchIt Competition which launches each year in the spring. For more details contact Belinda Wick-Graham, Director of Economic & Community Development at or 519-338-2511 ext. 241.

Photo of Winner