The winner of the 100 Entrepreneurs Planting Seed$ pitching competition plans to use the prize money to help improve modern farming methods in rural Nova Scotia.

Thian Carman is the owner of Meadow’s Brothers’ Farms, which purchases or leases abandoned farmland, and returns it to active food production. Now he has the money to buy some equipment that will help not only his farm but also his neighbours.

The competition offers the winning company $10,000 cash and about another $10,000 worth of services from event sponsors. The winner was chosen by an audience vote during the finals Wednesday at St. Mary’s University. The three finalists were selected ahead of time by a panel of judges.

“It’s a great honor to win any competition, but especially this one, and with quite the prize in the end,” said Carman during an interview. “When I heard about it, I knew I had to apply.”

Farmers in Digby County, where Meadow’s Brothers’ Farms is headquartered, have struggled to access necessary equipment as a consequence of the area’s isolation.

Meadow’s Brothers’ loses large portions of its hay crop to mildew. But when Carman tried to rent a machine that would protect the harvested hay by sealing it inside an airtight plastic wrapping, he discovered that most equipment owners were unwilling to ship their machinery over the long distance to Digby.

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Now Carman – who at 19 has been recognized as Canada’s youngest farm owner – will buy a hay-wrapper outright with his prize money. He’ll both use it for his own crops, as well as rent it out to other nearby farms.

“This isn’t just big for us, it’s going to be big for a lot of people in the area,” said Carman.

The 100 Entrepreneurs Planting Seed$ initiative is staged by non-profit 100 Seed$ Atlantic. It aims to encourage youth entrepreneurship by providing both funding and networking opportunities to business owners aged 24 or younger.

Attendees pay $100 for a ticket, with the cost of the tickets providing the prize money.

“The support that you’re providing today and in the future, not just financially, but through your willingness to connect, introduce people in your network and share insight is really what matters,” said Co-Founder Allyson England to attendees at the event.

The 100 Seed$ Atlantic group was founded in 2015 in response to the Ivany Report, which emphasized the need for Nova Scotia to develop a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The other two finalists at this year’s competition were NovaCare and VIS Foods.

- NovaCare is an app that aims to improve the efficiency of the Nova Scotia healthcare system by allowing users to communicate with healthcare providers and check wait times at clinics and other facilities. Founder Jake Chambers plans to monetize the app by selling user data to the Nova Scotia Health Authority and ad space to medical-services companies.

- VIS Foods sells hemp powder and plans to launch a full line of vegan “super foods”--nutrient-rich health foods. Ten percent of the proceeds from the e-commerce portion of VIS’s business are donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada.