2024 Local Hero Awardee: Marty’s Local

Marty’s Local, owned by Nick Martinelli, is a food distribution company with a dedicated focus on local and regional sourcing.

Steph Craig photo

Marty’s functions in a part of our local food system that is absolutely essential but largely invisible to the general public (except inasmuch as we might see a truck making deliveries). We’re lucky to have thriving farmers’ markets, farm stands, and CSAs in our region, but the reality is that direct sales from farm to consumer make up only about 10% of Massachusetts farm sales. That means that 90% of the food grown by Massachusetts farms is winding its way through more complex channels from farm to table – and Marty’s Local smooths that complexity out, bridging the gaps and getting more local food onto more local peoples’ plates.

In 2015, Nick Martinelli loaded a station wagon with carrots from Kitchen Garden Farm and einkorn flour from upstate New York and made his very first deliveries. He saw that there was a gap to fill in connecting local farms with local buyers, sourcing super fresh, high quality farm products and then making it effortless for wholesale buyers to choose those products.

Today, Marty’s Local sources from over 100 local farms and specialty food producers, and sells to customers in about a 100 mile radius of their warehouse in South Deerfield. They buy from farms of all sizes, taking over the administrative, marketing, and delivery work that farmers are otherwise doing on top of their daily labors of growing food. They keep order minimums low so their customers include small farm stands, grocers, and restaurants whose order volumes might otherwise exclude them from being able to get delivery from individual farms or from large distributors – many of which are important sources of food for their communities. And they have set up systems that enable them to sell to schools, with all the specific needs that school purchasers have.

Everything they offer is source-identified so buyers, like Smith College Dining, can choose the Winter Moon Roots or Our Family Farms milk when ordering and then be sure that that is what they are getting. Most distribution companies don’t do that, and the biggest ones really can’t – it just requires too complex and too closely managed a system. This transparency is a form of built-in accountability to their farm partners, to the buyers who rely on them, and ultimately the eaters who otherwise wouldn’t be able to see the thread connecting their plate to the origin farm.

Nick emphasizes the relationships that are the foundation of Marty’s Local – the trust and long-term commitments that go both ways with the farmers they buy from and the purchasers they sell to. So for building a complicated, technical, logistics business that also has deep commitments and serious heart, CISA is proud to present a 2024 Local Hero Award to Marty’s Local.

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