You can’t seem to make it to the farmers’ market, you got closed out of a CSA, and you don’t know where else to conveniently shop to find fresh, local produce, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products, baked goods and artisan crafted foods. You might not be able to easily squeeze in a trip to your destination organic grocer one week or you’d just rather buy locally. Maybe you’re a restaurant or caterer who finds that sourcing local food is sometimes challenging despite an evolving farm to chef distribution system. What to do?
Well, I guess Deb Marsden knew that quite a few green food consumers would fall into these categories, so she started CT Farm Fresh Express, a business that sells, packs and delivers local farm goods directly to consumers’ doorsteps. You order what you want when you want it. No kidding. Deb has made this so consumer friendly that there’s no minimum order necessary, no membership fee, no ongoing purchase commitment required, and convenient payment methods are available. It’s the no excuses way to eat locally.
Apparently the media is impressed with Deb’s business; she’s been featured on NBC News, The Faith Middleton Show on NPR, and The New York Times. I found ordering from CT Farm Fresh Express to be very straightforward – visit the site to shop (some options change weekly) and place an online order between Saturday and Wednesday morning and get it delivered for a $15 fee to your doorstep on Friday afternoon. If you won’t be home, leave a cooler with some ice packs and David, who is responsible for distribution to Fairfield County, will place your order in it. Deb sends email reminders each week with a list of what’s new. The asparagus is being harvested and oyster mushrooms are now available!
The whole family enjoyed our initial order of Beltane farms aged goat cheese, local scallops, 100% grassfed hangar steak, organic tofu salad, whole wheat bread, organic Asian braising greens, organic butterhead lettuce and Maitake mushrooms. Those were the freshest scallops I’ve had since I bought them off the boat in Stonington last summer and I haven’t seen that mix of Asian greens anywhere. I felt pretty smug after realizing I had worked an extra two hours instead of going to the grocery store, hadn’t burned any gas and hadn’t bought extra stuff I really didn’t need. David was off that week so Deb delivered my order in person! Isn’t the tangerine Element cute?
Deb Marsden launched CT Farm Fresh Express in February 2008 but just opened up distribution to Fairfield County. As the number of consumers and restaurants she supplies has grown, the initial four farms she worked with expanded to 28 and they now supply everything from organic greens to Maitake mushrooms to jarred sauces and syrups. Some of the products she carries are currently exclusively available to Fairfield County consumers through CT Farm Fresh Express.
Calling Deb a local food advocate doesn’t quite do her work justice. It’s truly a labor of love. She’s parlayed her dedication to buying locally and sustainably into a business that’s a win-win for Connecticut consumers and farms while also supporting a local food economy. I find it interesting that one of the biggest hurdles Deb had to overcome in launching her business was convincing local farmers to work with her. Slowly she convinced them that her business model not only would work, but would also be sustainable. Now participating farms enjoy proactively communicating each week’s inventory directly to consumers they would not normally have access to. And consumers in turn can place custom-tailored orders online and receive the freshest, most delicious, locally grown foods available for a small delivery fee. Call it farm to fork, farm to table, farm to consumer, or farm to doorstep, just be sure to call it fresh and convenient.