Martha’s Vineyard residents and seasonal visitors will have another option when it comes to stocking up on farm-fresh foods.
New England Country Mart will launch its delivery service with a special first run on May 13, and then will be coming to the Island on Thursdays from June 3 through Labor Day. The Chelsea-based company was created by the husband and wife team of Jeff and Elyssa Kotzen when COVID-19 took a drastic toll on their wholesale operations. J.W. Lopes was a fourth-generation company that had survived recessions but wasn’t “pandemic proof,” Elyssa Kotzen told The Times.
“We’re really excited about the summer ahead. It should be a really great one for just about everyone on the planet. We’re really excited about expanding to the Vineyard. We had a lot of feedback last summer about whether we’d deliver there, and it just seemed like a natural progression to follow our very loyal customers. We’ve been going to the Cape since the beginning, and we’re just excited to reach the Vineyard.”
Kotzen called it an eye-opening experience when things shut down in March 2020. She had never worked with her husband before, but they looked at how to meet the need of getting fresh produce and groceries into the hands of consumers.
“We started with a single box of fruits and vegetables that were curated based on seasonality and freshness,” she said. “We had no systems in place. The only thing we were confident in was our logistics. We had great drivers in place. We had refrigerated vehicles. And we had fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Products are sourced from across New England for the most part, although Kotzen points out that avocados, for example, are not grown here. The company’s product line includes close to 1,000 items, 95 percent of them locally sourced, including cheese made at Grey Barn on Martha’s Vineyard (“It’s been so well received,” she said), meats butchered and processed in Massachusetts, and beets and greens grown in Vermont.
“It’s been really rewarding, and we’ve been able to create partnerships with local organizations that are focused on food insecurity, housing insecurity, and hygiene insecurity, as well, through our work with local partners,” Kotzen said. The company has talked with Island Grown Initiative about working with them this summer on their lunch program, though no deal has been finalized.
Islanders will have to place their orders online at newenglandcountrymart.com at least 24 hours before their Thursday deliveries. While New England Country Mart doesn’t charge a delivery fee elsewhere for its services, Island customers are charged $20 because of the cost of the ferry, Kotzen said. The product prices are comparable with local grocery stores, she said.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity, and understand there’s so much local agriculture and local business on the Island. We certainly don’t want to take away from that,” Kotzen said. “We’re just excited to be an extension of all the right things that New England has to offer, and are really excited about maintaining the relationships we have with our customers when they’re away this summer.”
New England Country Mart groceries arrive in insulated bags that are packed inside recyclable boxes, Kotzen said. Customers will get a text message when the delivery is made.
Register for the service at newenglandcountrymart.com/marthas-vineyard-food-delivery.