By Eileen Weber
What if you could get farm fresh food delivered to your door exactly as you ordered it? If you’re Deb Marsden, you think that’s a great idea, too. In fact, that very idea is what inspired her to start her own business four years ago. Marsden’s CT Farm Fresh Express (CTFFE) is a delivery service that brings the farm into your home. This Saturday will mark their fourth anniversary.
In 2008, Marsden kick-started the idea in her home. Today, it functions on her property’s barn in East Haddam with a full 12-foot by 14-foot walk-in cooler to keep all those products and artisanal items super fresh and crisp. (The cooler was purchased along with a modern office space in the barn through grant funds allotted by the Department of Agriculture.)
Her delivery drivers collect produce and freshly made products from all over the state. From Moosup to Stonington and every place in between, they find the best local produce to bring to your door.
"From the interaction with the farmers to standing in the kitchens of our customers talking about recipes or gardening or the latest Monsanto injustice," said Sarah Bollman who has been a driver with CTFFE for the last two and half years, "I have loved being so integral to bringing good local food to appreciative and enthusiastic customers."
But while CTFFE is the first business of its kind, it’s not the only one and Marsden acknowledges that.
“There’s a lot more competition now – which is great for the local food movement,” she said, “but CTFFE still provides a unique benefit: we offer products from a wider variety of suppliers, and we deliver right to your home or business.”
We have discussed other vendors on this site that also deliver produce to your door like Staehly’s Farm. But even they attribute CTFFE as the forerunner of the business model. One of Staehly's customers had also used them to get fresh produce delivered.
Marsden also makes the point that she has seen a change in the quality of the food. They don’t accept a product just because it came from a local farm. It has to be in top quality condition to deliver. So, her drivers have no qualms about rejecting items that don’t meet their standards.
But more than that, Marsden says it’s the relationships they form with their repeat customers. When you deliver food every week, you get to know those clients very well. What they like; what they don’t like. Even how they use the products and what recipes they’ve tried.
“The added benefit of the longevity of this business and my staff is the personal relationships many of them have with our customers,” she said. “I laugh at some of the stories recounted to me on Thursday, our delivery day.”
CTFFE delivers on Thursdays and takes orders up until 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday mornings. They support over 50 state farms and operate all year round. They also provide locally raised meats and poultry for the holiday seasons.
For more information or to sign up for your delivery, visit their web site at www.ctffe.com.